We’re repeatedly asked if there’s likely to be another in the series of Coarse Witchcraft and the answer is highly unlikely. Having watched a YouTube interview (2012) with Michael Green describing how he was inspired to write his famous book, The Art of Coarse Acting – which in turn had inspired Coarse Witchcraft, it is easy to explain why. Michael Green was a journalist, author, actor and humourist who produced 15 Coarse books on subjects ranging from gardening to sex, and a fellow-drinker in the Grapevine Bar at Questors Theatre in Ealing, London where he kept us entertained with his immense fund of funny stories. With an eye for the ridiculous, he would have made a wonderful job of the Coarse Witchcraft series …
As the interview revealed, the objects of his ridicule generally thought it was funny and everyone knew someone who was a coarse (actor), never considering for a moment seeing themselves in the part. Similarly, everyone who’s ever commented on Coarse Witchcraft knows each and every coarse witch included in the pages. Some have even identified with the main characters or claimed to have worked with them on occasion. The irony is, that no one has ever got it right according to the authors! In fact, they were astounded that anyone would admit to the fool in the pages being themselves …
Genuine traditional witches have always seen the funny side of Coarse Witchcraft, and the less talented … well, they don’t think of themselves as coarse witches because they believe theirs is the right way to go about it. The original authors were out and about in the pagan community and so the stories, gossip and anecdotes readily came their way, whereas today, things would become more contrived and less spontaneous.
Anything that is a pastiche or take-off – is very difficult to achieve because there has to be the right blend of very good, and very bad (ability-wise) witches to achieve the balance – because unlike parody, pastiche celebrates, rather than mocks, the work it imitates. There is also much less humour abroad in the pagan community than there was some thirty years ago, with a large number of the unknowledgeable having such a high opinion of itself that it can vulgarly be said to be poised on the threshold of disappearing up its own arse! MD
Or the Coarse Witchcraft view of life, the Universe, and everything …
‘People prefer the play-acting,’ said Adam quietly. ‘They want someone who looks the part and they’re not interested in whether it’s a complete and utter prat, just so long as they talk the talk. Criticism is only seen as sour grapes.’ He doesn’t say a lot but when he does, it’s usually pretty profound.
‘But they haven’t got a yard-stick to measure anything by,’ I protested. ‘Publishers are now accepting an author purely on face value and the book lists have hundreds of different titles giving out this airy-fairy drivel. As a result, the play-actors don’t need to know any more than what’s in the books, providing they can keep one step ahead of those who know nothing. As long as they can cast a Circle and recite an invocation, it’s considered to be witchcraft and the newcomer knows no different.’
‘I don’t think they really believe in the magic, either,’ said Pris sadly. ‘It’s like coarse fishing; it’s seasonal; anyone can have a go; there aren’t any rules; they can make up their own little rituals; it gets them out of the house for a few hours on a regular basis, and it doesn’t actually have any practical purpose other than personal gratification.’
‘Coarse Witchcraft,’ said Rupert, spooning an unhealthy amount of mustard onto the side of his plate. ‘A damned good title for a book. It could contain a worm’s eye view of what passes for Craft among the uninitiated and warn the wannabes to be on their guard against the poseurs.’
We spent the next couple of hours making suggestions about who and what should go into this fictitious book. We got merrier and sillier. And then forgot all about it …
‘Gerry thinks the book is a great idea, providing we stick to fact and only include real-life situations,’ said Pris over the telephone next morning.
‘What book?’ I responded, forgetting my grammar in my confusion.
‘Pris,’ I said patiently. ‘It was a joke. A bit of fun. That’s all.’
By the time Rupert came in for lunch she’d nobbled him on the mobile. ‘Pris and Gerry think we should go ahead with the book,’ he said tucking in to a large slice of cheese.
Rupert is appreciative of fine food and his outdoor lifestyle means that he can enjoy a good scoff, without losing that ‘small and beautifully made’ look, despite the fact that he’s now over fifty. That ‘we’ was the most ominous sound I’d heard for a long time, particularly as I’m the one who earns my living with the pen. ‘It’s libel, darling,’ I said firmly, trying to head him off at the pass.
‘Do you honestly think anyone’s going to hold up their hands and confess that the idiot on the page is them? Besides, we’re not going to use names, and the instances won’t necessarily be people of our acquaintance. We can go further afield … Josh is always good for some gossip.’
Cynically referred to as the ‘Witch of the North’, we’re never sure whether she attracts the comedians, or whether there’s something in the water in that part of the country. Whenever we speak to her, there’s always been some hilarity or histrionics to report. Like the instance of the neophyte who managed to almost sever an artery when he was taken out into the woods to cut his staff. He was so afraid of the Magister shouting at him that he didn’t mention it until he’d almost passed out. This same lad later set light to his robe setting up the Circle – everyone noticed but declined to say anything …
This extract was taken from The Coarse Witchcraft Trilogy by Rupert Percy and Gabrielle Sidonie. Introduced by Melusine Draco. ISBN 978 1 78279 285 7 : UK£10.99/US$8.95 ; 254 pages : Available in paperback and e-book format.