As the days grow shorter and the shadows grow longer, it is the season for gathering round and telling tales and making our hairs stand on end……
At least, it very nearly wasn’t because it wasn’t until I looked at the notes on my mobile phone after the Samhuinn celebrations that I realised I had forgotten I was hosting it!
Only a few of us gathered at my house, but we enjoyed mead, gin, as well as other non-alcoholic beverages. Wanting to be a good host, I had even prepared jacket potatoes and a home made Quorn (gluten free, y’see!) chilli.
We gathered into my living room and began a night of blood chilling terror. Well, a themed night, anyway.
I began with a real ghost story of an apparition I had seen in my student house in my second year of Uni. It involved a woman I thought to be my then girlfriend going to the bathroom, when she was in fact in my housemate’s car waiting for me!
Teller was next with a song about the worms devouring your dead corpse in its wooden box. Yes, it was morbid, but it was also funny! It had no real title, but it was dubbed ‘The Hearse Song’. Apparently The Pogues have done a version of it.
Vyvyan read a poem from Tennyson called ‘Channel Firing’. A teasingly melancholic piece about God who may or may not sound the trumpets heralding the Apocalypse, also the near futitlity of sending most of his creation to the fire anyway.
Danceswithweasels read her favourite ghost story from ‘Haunted Derby‘ involving a painting of Jesus Christ that would supposedly change its face or its eyes would follow people around the room. It would supposedly fall down whenever there was a disaster in the world and would always fill the room with the smell of violets. The painting was taken down, taken to one of the grown up children’s house. Phenomenon would happen there so they took it back. If anything we felt sorry for the poor painting trying to communicate with its owners!
Danceswithweasels also told us of the catacombs and tunnels underneath the Guildhall Theatre, of which I took great interest as I had recently finished a production there and didn’t even know about them! She went on to explain that where the theatre stands now used to be part of the gaols, and apparently there are remnants of the prisoners still around….
We touched briefly on folklore and how it always seems to be influenced by the fancies, Horror and Science fiction of the time: photographs of “fairies” during the time of the British “Folk custom revival. Flying saucers during the 1950s and 1960s, abductions by small bodies aliens with big black eyes after the movie ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’, the Chupacabra craze which hit the late 1990s and early 2000s; more recently the supposed cases of ‘Slenderman’ and the alledged ‘Black Eyed Children’ cases of a couple of years ago.
It seems that we, as a culture, are strangely fascinated by the world of death and the unknown. Even though our society chooses to ignore it, it permeates into our media as a plot device. But try as modern society might, we keep going back to it.
Something that is so final and happens to us all, yet it appears the dead don’t always stay quiet.