A Peek Inside The Inexplicable World Of Madame Charlatan


A crystal ball on a wooden stand against a purple and pink cloth background.

One of my very first posts back in July 2017, introduced the foggy, musky, cloudy, fag-ash filled world of Madame Charlatan.

Where did she come from? Fuck knows.

I recall a car journey; many moons before The Lockwood Echo‘s existence and long before anyone thought of stretching my sanity to its limits by keep making me redundant. I can’t recall where we were going to or coming from, but I was chatting with my partner, possibly trying to invent ways of making money that didn’t involve working.

One of my ideas was ‘spoof’ fortune-telling, a kind of sideshow but with humour, not a mickey-take. I remember saying that if I was of an extroverted nature, I’d love to think I’d have the confidence to actually do this as an act, at festivals and fetes. How funny would that be? And I even thought of a name for my act;

MADAME CHARLATAN: Teller of Misfortunes.

And that was that. The journey ended. Madame Charlatan took up residence in an unused brain cell and little more was thought of her. Until…….

The Lockwood Echo launched itself into cyberspace, for reasons previously voiced. It was in need of content and Madame Charlatan, numb with boredom in my unused brain cell, gave me a prod. ‘I could do a little column. I could tell Misfortunes for your readers.’ So she found herself a home, amongst these pages, at intervals of her choosing.

Of course, she doesn’t actually do much Misfortune-Telling, her life is its own Misfortune, and is made up as I go along. Recent comments around the blogosphere have discussed what constitutes calling yourself a writer. I’m a writer, because I write. Nothing more nothing less. I have no training or knowledge. So therefore I have no idea how to construct a story, or profile a character, or develop a timeline. I’m winging it. And it shows. Madame Charlatan has found me written into a corner many a time and there are inconsistencies, not least with her ‘voice’. Would it be arrogant of me to say I don’t mind? Because I have a lot of fun with her and just go with whatever idea arrives, even if I have to use a calculator to see if the birth/marriage/death references work out realistically!

Although each piece can be read in isolation, they do string together, so I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought that once there was more from her, I could polish the whole thing up and pitch it out as a self-published book. Just call me Crazy!

Anyhow, the last contact with Madame Charlatan was July last year, after Old Mother Charlatan‘s funeral. So I’m expecting her to show up soon, all smudged make-up and gin-breath. In the meantime, for newer viewers or anyone who exercises self-care and has so far bypassed her columns, I am dropping one of her earlier outings here for you. My advice being to wait a couple of hours if you’ve just eaten.


Veruccas & Vol-au-vents

Madame Charlatan. Telling Misfortunes under a fog of musk and a cloud of fag-ash…….

I’ve had a letter back from the Council to say they are prepared to reinstate my Food Hygiene Certificate if I take a refresher course. You may know that I had my Certificate rescinded. It was a misunderstanding over some vol-au-vents at last year’s summer fete. I swear to this day I over-peppered the mushy-pea filling, but some said it looked and tasted like fag-ash. It all got a bit ugly. Words were said, vol-au-vents were thrown and after an inspection of my food preparation area (I say ‘area’ as it’s just a tea tray on top of my washing machine), the Environmental Health Department took the side of the complainants. Of which there were apparently 17.

age_bacteria_bio_biology_6The refresher course is only a couple of hours next Wednesday afternoon, which is handy as I have a doctor’s appointment in the morning for a rather stubborn verruca, so that will give me time to hobble along after.

I use to offer a complimentary egg & cress sandwich during my readings. A nice little personal touch which I think my clients appreciated whilst having their Misfortune told. It helped settle the stomach. Well, not according to the complaints, but like I say, it was all a misunderstanding. And to show goodwill, I did offer a refund to cover the cost of the Milk of Magnesia. So complimentary egg & cress sandwiches again courtesy of Madame Charlatan if you’re booked in after next Wednesday.

In anticipation of having the aforementioned Certificate reinstated, I am putting together a little soirée. Details are yet to be finalised but there will be food and Misfortune-Telling, just to give you a bit of an idea of what to expect. It will be a ticketed event; I can’t be putting Fig Rolls on a plate for free. Look out for full details coming soon.

Madame Charlatan
Putting the Shame back into Shaman


Cross My Palm With Silver

Old Mother Charlatan

Verrucas & Vol-au-vents (you are here)

Fondue & Fortune

The Aftermath

A Charlatan Christmas

The Charlatan Caravan

A Charlatan Challenge

Granny Charlatan

A Charlatan Funeral

A Charlatan Farewell


  1. Ha, a coincidence indeed.. as you will see when you get the post I published today sometime just after Easter. (It refers to an explanation of a character and a sort of return for him/her/it.)

    Yes, I’m looking forward to Madame’s future, as of course she knows even if she can’t actually see it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Madame Charlatan has found me written into a corner many a time and there are inconsistencies, not least with her ‘voice’.”

    I have painted myself into more corners, and portrayed myself inconsistently, more times than I can count. If those are traits of Madame Charlatan she is more real than most characters we’ve read. Good show, LE, and good to see you again.

    Please entreat MC to tell me my misfortune. Leave out the fire and ice parts; we just went through those here, ad nauseam. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like your take on that Tom, inconsistency = authenticity. I’ll take it. Maybe she has a split personality 😉 As soon as I clap eyes on Mme Charlatan, I’ll put forth your plea. I usually smell her before I see her. Let’s hope any Misfortune forecast is to thwart the path of misfortune already laid. Good to see you here TBT, thankyou for dropping by. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, you know I’m a fan of Char-Char, love the gal, so anything you do in that arena is breathlessly-awaited by moi. As for writing oneself into a corner, well, I find that when it happens to me, some of the best creativity falls out of my mind and splatters across the screen. Writing by desperation, you might say…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Vol- au- vents, accusations, sarnies and scrying balls flying- I see a tall dark-faced Health Inspector darkening your door. Also, yes we write to write, for no other (rational/irrational) reason. its become a habit and like Mad. Charlatan, I don’t see that stopping in the future. Unless she knows something I don’t! Ps. Redundancy is a nasty, nasty word.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! The Spectre of the Inspector will always loom 😉 Sounds like you have been the victim of the ‘R’ word yourself. I was hit by it twice, within the space of 14 weeks. Fun times. But I’ve used it as fodder here, so feel like I’ve given it a good punch in the face. Hope your own situation resolved into something to your liking. Thankyou so much for dropping in and for commenting. 🙂


  5. I think Madame Charlatan was one of the first things I read on your site, and definitely prompted me toward the follow button.

    I think all writers are people who write, and we’re all winging it. And, just quietly, I think most writing ‘knowledge’ and ‘advice’ is just stuff that worked for other people when they were winging it (which doesn’t make it worthless, but I don’t think it’s always gospel truth either).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love your take on writing. I definitely can’t call myself a writer at the moment as there is very little writing going on! I like the ethos of punk; I can play 3 chords. That’s all I can cope with knowing. But it is all I need to express myself. I think any approach is valid. Have I studied for a degree in English? No. Did it stop me having something published by the utterly marvellous Dawn French? No. So let’s keep winging it and having fun along the way. Thankyou so much for your lovely thoughtful comment. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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