Yesterday, back at work after the new year, after the usual greetings, small talk and chit chat, Vivienne checked I was taking my personal development seriously.
Incredible as it seems, and I write these pages to remain sane, in a turbulant working environment, I am allowed half a day a week for personal development.
That is the good news.
The bad is that as I work for a witch (I don't believe in magic), she decides what my personal development consists of.
So, I have spend the past few Fridays (before Christmas) learning about the cards.
Luckily, I'm a fast learner and 'she went easy on me testing me only on the Fool, the Magician and the difference between the Major and Minor Arcanas.
I aced these. The Fool is a starting point, the Magician a beginning, and I wrote about the Arcanas last year so they have remained in my memory.
Vivienne smiled at me indulgently.
"Finally you are on the path to englightenment".
I glared at her. She knows that I don't believe in mysticism, magic or divination of any sort.
"Your next step will be either to read the Tarot yourself, or have someone perform a reading for you."
"But first I need you to do some magic".
My heart sunk. I'm a programmer, SEO expert and scientist. How did I sink so low?
"I am concerned by the number of white magic spells being cast in my area."
Vivienne might be a self described witch, but first and foremost she is a businesswoman, and a very good one at that.
She would only be concerned by free spellcasting, if it was impacting on her bottom line.
I know for a fact that the stats and figues are healthy for all our on-line businesses, as I check daily, and I can only assume someone encroaching on her off-line business interests.
I've been checking them over the christmas break.
Her area? I started to listen attentively. I know all about the on-line businesses, and even have a share in some of them, but know very little about 'her business' in the real world - apart from an unsatisfactory visit to a voodoo priestess .
Maybe, I'd discover where she lived?
I noticed V. looking at mer very intently, almost as if she knew what I was thinking.
"You love life is a mess" she continued.
"Did you watch the Sherlock Holmes special on New Years Day?" I wondered aloud.
"I'm a witch and I know these things"
More likely she had noticed the picture on my phone had changed again. I still hadn't got over Cassandra. She had left me over the banking incident concluding I was a bad bet and morally unscrupulous.
"There is a pop-up fair on Hamstead Heath tonight, and she will be there".
"She?" This witch or competition had so irked Vivienne that she couldn't even bring herself to use her name.
"A woman who pretends to be a witch but isn't." She spat these last words out, using language which made even me blush, and having worked with traders in the city, that is no mean feat.
"A pop up fair?"
Apparently, pop up fairs of all types take place across the UK, and this particular one was of the magical variety. This was news to me. Maybe there was a mailing list or something?
"Go see her and ask for her best white magic love spell. Tell her about Cassandra. Here is your ticket.".
It slowly dawned on me.
Vivienne was worried that this witch was genuine. Does that mean that Vivienne is fake and worried about competition or considers herself to be real and worried about competition?
I noticed that Vivienne was staring at me again. Shas green eyes. Scary at times, in fact times like now.
"Fake" she whispered.
I stared right back. Lucky guess. Nothing more. Nothing less.
"Will there be unicorns at the fair?" I asked.
The idea of a pop up fair on Hampstead Heath with witches, magicians and almost certainly unicorns appealed to me.
I didn't even bother to object about the love spells, although I doubted that any witch real or not, would have a hope of helping with this particular heartbreak.
The last time I saw Cassandra, she used words like 'disapointment', 'morally backrupt', 'hell freezing over before we meet again' and other cutting comments of a similar ilk.
Still, I'm not proud, Vivienne will pay for any expenses, and maybe white magic would be more effective than voodoo love spells with Cassandra.
This time it was my turn to think there would be more chance of hell freezing over.
It starts gets dark at four in Januray, and by the time the I was at the Heath it was pitch black.
Hampstead Heath is a large, ancient London park, covering 320 hectares, meaning that in the dark it is easy to get lost, and looking for a pop up fair which shouldn't be there wouldn't be easy.
Except, amazingly Viv had given me the GPS co-ordinates.
The pop up fair was (in case you know Hampstead Heath), past Lime Avenue and through the trees which grow dense and thich in that part of the Heath.
The trees had muffled the sound of voices, and it was a shock when I came across the fair, or better said a mini festival hidden within a tent...
... in the middle of the Heath. With no permission, permits or taxes to pay.
I smiled to myself. The fun things often have to hide between the cracks.
The tent itself was wrapped around and supported by the trees. Thinking back, I'm not sure', but it looked like it was designed to fit the space perfectly. The pop up fair must take place frequently.
It reminded me of a Spiegeltent I had seen years before.
I went through the main door, into a beautiful, luxurious venue with dark flooring maybe mahogany, mirrors everywhere making the place seem huge and a draped ceiling.
The trees were centre pieces, with lanterns some glowing with candles and other with LED's. attached to the trunks. The mirrors, trees, crowd and lanterns made judging size difficult.
I looked around, ignoring the mirrors, ignoring the surroundings and checked out crowd. They weren't local which was reassuring, and didn't have that sleek, well fed and nourished hampstead look.
Picking up a cider and glow sticks I mingled with the crowd being pushed this way and that as I wandered through the trees. I vaguely recongised one or two faces, maybe from the spell casting seminar that I reluctantly attended last year.
I'm not one for stalls, and despite the admittedly cool venue, it wasn't for me. Time to find a witch, have a love spell or two cast, and then to be on my way.
I found the witch. Tall, slight, and in her thirties she was, with thin lips, wispy hair and all manner of beads and crystals (quartz, turquoise, rose) about her person sitting in a separate stall in a slight recess between two trees.
Having grown up on a diet of Walt Disney films, I was expecting a kindly grandmother, and slightly taken said the first thing that entered my head.
"Pieces of earth energy. What can I do for you petal?"
I checked her eyes. Warm and compassionate but otherwise normal.
This was a new low point in my life. I've never felt so stupid - not even when I saw the voodoo priestess.
"You are a white witch?"
"Yes. Of course. I can do no harm to any living thing."
"I'd live you to cast a white magic love spell for me." I cringed inwardly as I said this. >
"No worries. I'm an expert in reconciliation spells designed to bring back lost love or a lost lover".
She would need to be given my history with Cassandra.
"I can also offer e-mail support and counselling for the rare occasions where the spell casting isn't effective"
I'm not going to go into detail about the process and consultation, suffice to say that the cost was very reasonable, and success was *almost* guaranteed that very night or my money back.
The next morning, I was looking vaguely through the log files for Spell generator, a lead generating and underperforming website of ours, when Vivienne appeared more or less out of nowhere.
"Well" she said as opposed to the more usual "hi", "hello" or "good morning".
"There were no unicorns" I replied.
"Not that. The witch"
"Cassandra came back to me last night as promised and guaranteed."
There was a sharp intake of breath and a hiss. Ha! Vivienne thought or suspected that the white witch was the real deal.
"Joke, and I've also got her website details." I added quickly worried about my future in more ways than one.
"I knew it. Wait till I tell the coven." smirked my boss in a very undignified manner.
There was no sympathy or recognition that my heart was broken, shattered into tiny pieces, my life was a mess and a white magic love spell that actually worked would have helped.
I'm ashamed to admit it here, but I'd turned to ask V. if any of her coven where good with love spells white magic or otherwise, when I realised that she had already left to no doubt rubbish the competition.