Hookland County Chronicle
New feral continents unfold in our imaginations. Places of undiscovered, wild magics. The two moons of Faerie pull its seas along tides no English mariner has ever seen. Amplitudes and nodes beyond easy tabling. We may wander impossible shores or climb down perilous stairways to the realms of the Under-hill Kings. If we do not care for navigating labyrinths of Cave Chits or trading with St. Martin’s Land, we may pick a path through Wildwoods wider than the stretching borders of any Earthly empire. Wildwoods where living shadows watch us, 10,000-year old trees ache with first-ring nostalgia. Pick paths on which we might meet pale pedlars who will try to sell us bottles of time, pies filled with pixie flesh and juniper gravy. The navigations offered by faery tales are simultaneously delicious and dangerous. In their utter alienness we may just glimpse our true selves. – C.L. Nolan
Hello. Welcome to the sixth issue of the Hookland County Chronicle and the first issue of 2023. May the future that walked down the lanes to greet you in your year-walking have been a grand one. The cunning folk of the county met in their usual pubs and have declared it The Year of The Book. We now have 12 months to try working out what this prognostication actually means and whether it’s are any more accurate than the predictions of Grand Pisspuffin Elon Musk. My one big hope for this year alongside surviving it, is that in whatever form it takes, the Hookland community continues to offer some wonder, resistance to and respite from the bruises of the world.
You Beast You! Pillow Gringers
Hookland has a surfeit of sprites. They occupy a rich, but crowded eco-system where to survive, each tribe, species and variety must display some peculiarity of habit, some distinct purpose. The tracts listing the types of faeries in Hookland have the Pillow Gringers as malignant night sprites who: ‘Infect dreams, cause the grinding of teeth, numerous sensations of pins in flesh and disrupt all hopes of sleep.’ Their naming makes more sense when you learn that in many old English dialects, the word gringe meant to grind. In his diaries, Dr. Bron records several instances of sleeplessness caused by Pillow Gringers. In 1634 he wrote: ‘Many in Knight’s Wheel are afflicted by the work of Gringers. Rest is denied them till they become ragged for its want. Those that sleep wake heavy from their dreams being ridden or have much soreness in the jaw. Nearly all report the pressing of invisible needles into the hands, feet and head. They plague their victims by the hissing soft songs in their ears which enter their dreaming. I have sent message to the Justice advising the burning of myrtle and the ridding of all things stuffed with horsehair as Gringers cannot stand the plant’s vapours and are known to nest in horsehair.’ Most traditional depictions of Pillow Gringers show them as resembling a gigantic bush cricket. The 19th century Hookland naturalist Rev. Valentine Darrow made a close study of Gringers in mediaeval marginalia and 17th publications noting that aside from being grey rather than green in colour, having a different configuration of mandibles and the unlikely addition of a stinger, they appeared highly similar to the long-winged conehead (Conocephalus discolor) found in the county’s damp areas. Darrow also mused that the long-winged conehead also make a barely audible gentle hissing ‘song’. Despite remaining a part of folklore – the phrases ‘trying to shake the Gringers from my pillow’ and ‘the Gringers stole my sleep’ are in common parlance – there have been almost no sightings of the night sprites after the late 17th century. One exception to this may have been during the 1954 poltergeist case at Langton Road in Brockwood when a mattress was reported to have been observed to: ‘Furiously writhe before bursting to reveal several oversized grey insects, some nearly a foot long, that then flew out of the room’.
For there are generations who have had to rely on old wives’ medicines to see their child survive croup or rage of infection. Those generations do not sneer at the expression ‘old wives’ tales’, they know it is those old wives who did not abandon them for lack of doctor’s fee. The store of practical wisdom held by that tribe has not only been a spine through time, but an engine of survival. For every spurious notion drafted into service as parental scarelore, for every absurd superstition, the library of old wives’s tales contains community deliverance. If we counting the champions of England – knights, adventurers, those cunning folk who fought under the henbane banner – we must include the nameless legions of old wives. For old wives have saved more children than any great general. Old Wives have told tales that have lasted generations longer than our greatest playwrights and authors. There have provided a safe navigation, a transmission of the practical past into the now. We owe them much and never less than a listening respect. – Vera Winterfield, Cottage Wisdom, Kemper & Broughton, 1970
Is It Worth It? Cloven County – the Devil and the English Landscape
One of my general rules is never review anything Phil Hine has already reviewed*. I am ignoring this for Jeremy Harte’s Cloven County – the Devil and the English Landscape (Jeremy Harte, Reaktion Books 2022) because I’ve such a strong love of it. With authors, often our true mark of how much we rate another’s work is the volume of the sigh we make as we think: ‘I bloody wish I’d written this.’ My sigh for Cloven County was so loud it put the cat off bullying for treats. It really is that good.
A catalogue and investigation into all the English places the Devil has left his mark in and lent his name to, Cloven County is a masterwork of folklore and place. From tales of hills created by soil on the Devil’s spade to channels he gouged and standing stones he’s dropped, Harte maps not only a land soaked in lore, but the history of the Old Clip himself. In this charting, not only are numpty notions of folklore as a symptom of ancientness challenged, but the absolute delight of stories anchored to place is celebrated.
In telling the tale of the Devil in the landscape, Harte has written a superb work dealing with everything from the tensions of class in English folklore to the long history of commodification of story for purposes of tourism. He refuses the easy, lazy nonsense of all folklore stemming from a pagan past. His depth of knowledge is so deep that he has no truck with merely repeating what has gone before. As readers we get a page-gulping blend of scholarship, insight and passion. Cloven County is a benchmark in entertaining accessibility to an author’s years of research without a hint of haughtiness.
There are sometimes grand assumptions that are not argued, but rather thrown out in such a charming way that we allow Harte to go unchallenged for the sake of unfolding tale. At times this becomes too much. Every reader will probably find an instance so hugely infuriating they’ll probably slam close the book with a strong tut of: “Bullshit!” For me it happened early on when Harte claimed the Devil always does his building business at night because in some of the original stories he was always a troll. However, after a few minutes away, probably in the company of a good cup of tea, the reader will return, forgive him his justifiable confidence, the odd overstated conclusion and reopen the book.
We absolve because Cloven County is hugely entertaining. For every time Harte comes across as akin to a teenage fundamentalist ley-hunter dispensing assertions as truths, he wins our affection with a delicious nugget of lore. Yes, he may sometimes be so certain his theory is correct he doesn’t bother to mention its one of many theories worth examining, but we tolerate because he writes with an endearing, open passion. We also tolerate because its a work of genuine, graceful scholarship backed up with a superb section of notes.
One of the great strengths of Cloven County is its deep understanding of the relationship between landscape and folklore. This fuels not only countless insights, but much of the book’s joy. Harte captures place without overblown poetics, but with genuine power. This is combined with an absolute sense of folklore as a living current, its only constants mutation and theft.
The Devil of the English landscape is less his Satanic Majesty, more his Demonic Doofus, Prince not of Darkness but of Pisspuffinry. Beaten up by London fishwives, conned by cobblers and clergymen, he may at times be big, but he’s rarely clever. In the literary equivalent of photographing a shadow, Cloven County shows that the only rival folklore has in terms of ceaseless transformation is our collective sense and placement of the Devil himself.
*Type in Phil Hine and Enfolding.Org into a search engine and you’ll soon see why.
8.5/10 A wonderful work that feels like a living text rather than ink stasis, it’s an entertaining essential for any lore library.
Folklore has always been fragmentary. Traditions that rely not only on oral telling, but a certain delicious degree of making things up on the spot, are by nature vulnerable and tend towards the discontinuous. Instead of mourning he many thousand lost story cycles that must have once existed, I take joy in what has survived. I take joy in what is currently being birthed. I know some folklorists spend their lives listening out for echoes of stories no longer told, but my focus has always been on the hearing and now of it. My wife aways claimed this was my excuse for spending time in taverns. My defence was that in country like England where its past contains no great systematic survey of lore, collection of the current crop of tales feels somewhat like a sacred duty. If I do it in the tavern, it is not only because English folklore has always lived there, but it is one of the few places where working voices are heard. Or rather, heard without the sneery judgement that so often afflicted the gatherers of lore that occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries. – C.L. Nolan, On The New Folklore, BBC National Programme, 1935
Notes From the Wyrd Lab
Less of this Sort of Thing Everywhere but Here
I have heard it said writers fall into two broad camps: those who don’t like to discuss the origins of their work and those that won’t shut up about it. Normally I am in the first grouping, but Hookland is an odd beast. As it is owned by its community, I feel a pressure to be transparent about its origins and intent in a way I wouldn’t about one of my own books.
Most laugh or politely turn away when I try to explain the county’s agenda of re-enchantment as resistance or how nothing in it is made up, just remembered differently. It is the same when I say the county is about the comfort of old horrors against new terrors. Some find it odd that I try to be so obvious about my muses with the A-Zs of Inspiration I occasionally put out. The A-Zs are done not only to signpost others to wonderful work, but let those who make use of Hookland know that it isn’t incited by a masturbatory fest of nationalism as an awful lot of certain folkloric hashtag writing is.
However, I’ve decided to be less interpretative in 2023. I always trust my audience to be smarter than me and to ask any question they want answered (preferably privately on my ever open DMs, so that I don’t start ranting about fourth-wall breaking again). Also it’s obvious much of my input into Hookland is biographical and my default response to current worries is hedgehogging. On top of this, I’m filled with a sense that everyone – including me – is bored with annotative guff.
The main exception to this will be Notes From the Wyrd Lab. This isn’t because I think you have a high boredom threshold, but because there are occasions where context is a valuable community asset and best not given in an unnuanced social media post. The Hookland County Chronicle is a space where I feel safe enough to discuss things such as Romanichal heritage in a way I would not given Twitter’s toxcity.
Shortened word bursts also tend kill some of the intimacy that can exist between writer and reader. I don’t think I’d be able to tell you the following on Twitter. The goodnights from Hookland, which are collected below for the first time, came from two places. They were partly inspired by the accidental poetry of the late night shipping forecast which was the traditional clocking on soundtrack of many of us insomniacs. They also came from a period where every night I went to bed with a heightened fear I might not wake up. Each of the individual goodnights was a possible final goodbye. A pre-emptive full stop on my contribution to Hookland.
Some people were overly kind and said the goodnights reminded them of Dylan Thomas, some said they were their favourite part of the county. Enough found their regularity and content annoying, so I retired them. For me, they were a safe dialogue with mortality. Little love letters to a place I was afraid of leaving too soon.
The goodnights, like the Voices Of Hookand (#VOH), were also a way of highlighting neglected citizens of the county. Strange fiction often erases working class voices. It doesn’t tend to listen to the delivery driver, overnight shelf-stacker or chicken factory employee. The eerie is experienced by every strata of society, but fag-end aristocracy and middle class are vastly over-represented in its telling. As a working class writer, I try to address this lack of balance.
A cleaner has just a profound experience confronted with phantom or UFO as the academic or dilettante, but they rarely get to be the protagonist in such stories. For much of the horror genre, the working class exist as comedy cameo, collateral damage. Many of the goodnights were me subtly flicking the Vs to this issue.
You can judge for yourself if the goodnights wok as a collected piece. I just remain happy that many enjoyed their original outings. It appears as if 2023 will a year where their relevance and resonance will amplified for me, so they will return. At least you now know they come from shipping forecast remembrance, a continuing sense of annoyance at working class marginalisation in the uncanny and a desire to not have to say farewell to Hookland just yet.
There are some horrors so huge no mouth can open wide enough to howl them. This is why we have stories. This is why we have monsters. The strange story is a complexity. The horror of its entertainment is often proxy for internal true terrors which have no other permissible tongue. Whether told around the hearth, shared in the dark of cinema or conveyed through the intimacy of the page, they scream for us. They scream of our fears that tyrants will swallow our freedoms, break our families. They scream of our distress that the expanding waves of scientific knowledge will reveal our cosmic insignificance. When I scratch ink, when I make monsters, I may be screaming for Germany and Russia. I may be screaming against the crushing weight of grief or cave-old wariness of the dark, but I am always howling for more than attention and pennies – C.L. Nolan, On Strange Stories, BBC National Programme, 1936
Goodnight from Hookland – August & September
Goodnight from Beth Rowe, putting her favourite doll under the bed to protect her from things coming through from there. Goodnight from the Hapgood Electronics Factory where cleaner Tim Wood is increasingly worried about the symbols appearing in the dust. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the cabmen’s hut in Ashcourt where Molly Pickingill is serving proper cups of splosh and dishing out advice on how to deal with phantom passengers. Goodnight from ‘Witch Kettle’ Sam, climbing up Mard Hill to make an embassy with faeries. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Dom Field, driving across Barrowcross Moor and hoping his car electrics don’t suddenly all fail again, hoping there’s no giant light in the sky again. Goodnight from Kitty Webb burying stolen meat in the garden to rid herself of a wart. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the working dead at Kesslers department store in Ashcourt where phantoms rearrange window displays, stack stockings and keep a night watch. Goodnight from Ella Ford, leaving out bread and milk in garden in hope of faery favours. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from England's largest model railway at Coreham Zoo, where one phantom is gleeful at a chance to change points and switch on the electrics. Goodnight from Mrs. Hall, convinced a gang of Wishbloods is meeting in the lane below her bedroom window. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the Electricity Board linesmen working to restore power to Hagwell after another pylon was bombed by UFO cultists. Goodnight from Myal Hay, dreaming of the Crow Crown and afraid to wake in case his bed is littered with black feathers again. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Horned Hare Farm, where the harvest time rush has brought exhausted dreams of droughts to come, dust demons. Goodnight from the UFO skywatch gang gathered at the tea van on the A3450 lay-by full of talk of recent black cube sightings. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the ghost of PC 166 on his phantom patrol, still grumbling about his Ashcourt docks beat and the perishing cold of 3am. Goodnight from Sarah Dorcas, bringing a malakin of Terry Hay to the Blood Pond to curse him for dumping Beth Tant. Goodnight from Hookland
Goodnight from the trainspotters on Hunwyke Bridge, waiting to see if the steam wraith of the crashed pilot engine of 1890 makes its annual appearance. Goodnight from Rob Rutter, twisting his blankets after a bedtime story about the Lord of Plunder. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from those drinking in The Devil’s Pot, playing amateur detective with every detail of another Moss Master sighting. Goodnight from the last cottage on Wren Lane, where the Gale twins have carved grotesque turnip lanterns too early for the season. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Brighthaven Fair, where Vic Haines is listening to the Waltzer’s Bowie records – Starman, The Jean Genie – battling with the steam organ for his soul. Goodnight from Cob Lane, where Jo Fry is rushing home before she sees the Pale Children. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Dan Henson, cold-fevered by dreams and regretting scrumping apples from the abandoned cottage on Tad Way. Goodnight from the Greenstone village phone box which rings and rings without pickup as no-one wants to risk answering the dead again. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the railway arches in Luxton, where Noah Edey is sleeping rough and hearing doom summoned in the clacking rhythms above. Goodnight from No. 57 Pond Lane, where Flora Langdon is convinced she can hear a Soot Sprite scratching in the chimney. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Cherry Carter, putting the mash of potato and grain in the ducks’ troughs, saying a prayer to old gods against the raiding of foxes. Goodnight from the Lord’s Cliff radar installation, ghosted by impossible blips from unknowable craft. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from folk at The Sixth Finger pub, enjoying their Puck Fair lock-in so they can continue playing a drunken game of ‘I Know An Elf’. Goodnight from the 24-hour married couples on Hob Hill, rolling out blankets and thankful for a warm night. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Smokewood village, denied sleep by the army going door-to-door to warn them of a gas leak and helping load them up into waiting trucks. Goodnight from the lock-in at The Wondrous Rabbit where Joe Hunt is showing regulars some truly odd bones. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Ellie King gathering greenhouse herbs – angelica, sage and coltsfoot according to the rules of moon gardening. Goodnight from Ruth Hill, hoping that the wardrobe monster will be happy with the packet of KP Rancheros she left out for it. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Tom Fox, regretting taking a souvenir from the gallows post at Steeple Terling, jumping at the house’s every sigh. Goodnight from Kat Day, camping out at Doorstone Reservoir, hoping to hear the sunken bells of the church she was married in. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Lucy Dare, sharpening her shadow on a whetstone she found in an abandoned cottage out on the edges of Barrowcross. Goodnight from the squaddies on patrol at Puck Edge, all secretly hoping they don’t run the Ghost Generator again. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the Café De La Croix in Ashcourt, where the ghost patrons are rearranging the tables and chairs. Goodnight from Kitty Lovell, having a final cup of tea for reasons of tasseomancy, hoping the leaves will give her desire for tomorrow. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the fair on Hart Common, all swirling lights, cries of delight and the smell of freshly fried doughnuts mixing in with the regret of visiting the fortune teller’s tent. Goodnight from Norwell Rowe, seeing more than cat’s eyes on the A3450. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the crowd exciting The Regal after a Planet of the Apes double-bill, wandering what that odd green light in the sky is. Goodnight from Red Horse Farm where Mark West is tying witch wards to the cattle sheds after that recent nasty business. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Abi Hooper, lying in the field under a swollen harvest moon, hoping the King of Hares will bring a message in her dreams. Goodnight from Jake Vos, needing a good kip, praying there’s no lifeboat call tonight, no fishing of the drowned dead. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from The Maidens pub where DI Callaghan is enjoying a drink on the house that isn’t anywhere near strong enough to blot out the voices of the dead. Goodnight from ‘Witch Kettle’ Sam, casting toad bones into Yardling Brook and waiting on the moon to laugh. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the nightmares of all the children who persuaded their parents for coins to visit ‘The Exhibition of Oddities’ tent at the fair on Hart Common. Goodnight from the whir of chain and wheeze of breath of the phantom cyclist riding up Tea Kettle Lane. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the Railway Workers’ Club in Weychester where those stapled to the bar are drunk enough to talk about what they have glimpsed on the line near Hobstone. Goodnight from Sam Soke, deeply regretting the decision to sleep on the beach at Wark. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from HMP Barrowgate where the escapee bell – removed in the 1960s – can be heard ringing across the moor, troubling both guards and inmates. Goodnight from Gracie Hunt, watching out her window into the dark of meadow in hope of late glow worms. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the final greasy breaths of the fair on Hart Common, where phantoms who had their hearts broken by its leaving in previous years are mooching through caravans. Goodnight from May Tovey, dreaming of the voice that lives in the well again. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the Anomalous Phenomena Team, downing courage in The Way Back pub before facing a night in Dowen Lodge. Goodnight from Weychester Cathedral’s Black Library where minuscule dust golems roam as the ink in certain books changes its shape. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Maddie Hay, praying to her David Essex poster to wake up old enough to join the Sisters of the Apple. Goodnight from Grimhill police station where the Duty Sergeant is perplexed by reports of vandalism committed by ‘men wearing pigheads’. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from The Otter’s Share where there’s been another quiz night punch-up between Empress Eel spotters and Marsh Ape hunters. Goodnight from Toby Pike, reading Doctor Who Weekly by torchlight and worried about the alien in the orchard coming back. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the night shift at the Hobstone Radio factory, where Jamie Shin is accused of mucking about when it’s really down to the poltergeist. Goodnight from Lucy Ash who hopes to dream of a spell to summon glow worms when there’s another power cut. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from 37 Willow Way, where Sara Good has fallen asleep while watching The Clockwork Soul on TV and is lost in dreams of deadly dolls. Goodnight from the Father Tree vigil at Tadsor Farm where as much apple brandy is drunk as poured in libation. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the bleeping radar screens of RAF Nook, the unexplainable manifesting as momentary blips. Goodnight from The Heaving Basket where the clatter of the last orders’ bell didn’t break up furious conversation about Wicker King sightings. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Tom Oak at ABC Cabs who keeps hearing a voice saying: “Throw-a-bone” on his despatch radio. Goodnight from Abi Beck unable to sleep for thinking about the greying of the year and what painful ghosts will manifest in autumn’s bonefire smoke. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Elaine Fry’s sleepover where the girls are trying to candle-summon images of future boyfriends in dressing table mirror. Goodnight from Dr. Henbest, getting cramp from being locked in Scad Hall’s priest hole in the name of psychic research. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from The Owls all-night transport cafe, where Mr. Smoke is selling curses to clients while enjoying egg and chips, marking sigils in their copious grease. Goodnight from Polly King leaving out cat food for the hedgehogs and notes to the fairies. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the night anglers on the Restal, arguing over whether you need a smellier bait after dark, refusing to believe in Marsh Ape rumours. Goodnight from Helen Carter, so fed up with the pisspuffinry at work she’s burning a curse candle. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the ghost of Paulie Young’s mistreated dog who hopes to sneak into his former master’s dreams and bite him. Goodnight from the nightwatchman’s hut at Ashcourt rail depot where Jon Vos brews up and hopes for less steam wraiths than usual. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Bennewith House Children’s Home where the nuns patrolling the corridors are scarier than the ghosts whispering in the dark. Goodnight from the Megalith Research Laboratory where Dr. Regan is noticing spikes on both EEG and E-field meters. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the cleaners at the Luxton bus depot, sick of an invisible spook always ringing the bell on the No. 20 Lodekka. Goodnight from Sarah Rutter, terrified by the sound of a horse-drawn cart carving the lane even though there is none to be seen. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Coreham General, where hospital porter Tommy Randles is whistling ABBA songs to keep the ghosts at bay as he pushes patients to X-ray. Goodnight from Liv Sutton, struggling to sleep after losing an hour of time on her way home from school. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from 12 Bell Square, Ashcourt where the house itself is remembering the 1890 ‘Electrically Amplified Séances’ of Dr. Campbell with much displeasure. Goodnight from the soup van on Morley Street where there is much muttering about ‘vanishings’. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the puppets hung up at the Pupation film studio, restless on their wires since the character of the Moss Witch was introduced to their ranks. Goodnight from The Juniper where the talk over beer is all about that Hollow-boned Folk being seen in Ribbon Road. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the Coldhill Sorting Office where members of the UPW are wondering what the union can do about the poltergeist. Goodnight from Swan Lane where Mrs. Oak regrets letting the kids camp in the garden after last night’s dream of the Wicker King. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the Allard Chip Shop Van where none of the customers who’ve just seen the midnight showing of The Devil’s Lieutenants don’t want ketchup on their chips for some reason. Goodnight from Fr. Rowe, finishing his sermon on not tithing to faeries. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Ben Knapp, radio underneath bedclothes, listening to a metallic-voice number station and imagining its aliens orbiting. Goodnight from Jo Knight, setting up her Sony TC – 60As to record EVP in St. Mary’s Lullingham and wishing for ghosts. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from John Tattersall walking home from the pub who knows he heard a train on the bridge above despite the line being closed since 1962. Goodnight from Elsie Walton who saw a pair of red eyes as big as teacups just beyond the gate when calling her cat in. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Chas Todd, standing in front of Kesslers department store window, unwilling to leave its golden light for fear of living shadows chasing him home. Goodnight from Pinch Lane where the Wishblood Hound is howling and scratching at doors. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the printing presses of the Coreham Echo where hot metal is making sure the headline UFO ‘AS BIG AS BARN’ SEEN makes an impression. Goodnight from Lucy Dary, singing lullabies to the ghost child she is convinced she shares her room with. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the bakers just clocking on at the Double Thump bakery at Wakelin where tonight’s gossip across dough will be about Woodwose encounters and Tobe’s fancy woman. Goodnight from the shades of Old Curch Lane fed up with the noise at No. 75. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from police diver Tom Stone, drinking far too much to ward off dreams of things he has seen in the eel pools of Barrowcross. Goodnight from the Sisters of the Apple, putting matches to their rushlights and heading out to mark equinox eve. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Dave Horlick searching the night for cosmonaut transmissions on his ham radio set-up, waiting on Pavel proof. Goodnight from Tilly King leaving milk and bread by the bedsit’s electric fire in hope of Hearth Hobs. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Wrenfield where the ghost of mole-catcher Tom Cord is still about his business despite having died in 1825. Goodnight from the cliffs above Dedwick where several villagers have gathered, pulled from their sleep by the sound of sunken bells. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Dawkin’s Circus where Chas Codona is lullabying as he wipes down the carousel horses with a love others reserve for the animals conventionally considered alive. Goodnight from Sarah Harkin, dreaming about the Cobweb-stitched woman again. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Jim Taddle hanging up lanterns to guide the ghosts of his ancestors back to the orchard to bless the picking of early apples. Goodnight from Ellie Flax waiting on her parents to go to bed so she can signal UFOs with her Ever Ready torch. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from ‘Witch Kettle’ Sam, sleeping rough and cooking up magics by his fire in Braygate Woods. Goodnight from PC Bidsell and PC Thorley out on Panda car patrol, both hoping control doesn’t send them back chasing ghost lights on Tad Hill. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the mob of ghost horses – free, fierce and beyond even the Whisperers’ taming – hurtling through mist-soaked Hart Common on the edge of Blackford Down, Goodnight from Jenny Sike, woken by the creek of the Wicker King walking the lane. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Father Mark at St. Urian’s in Hob’s Tey, holding a vigil for the Belstaff girls who have started hearing voices again. Goodnight from Robby, the Booth family’s dog out in the back garden barking at faeries again. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Joanne Snarebrook, sneakily divining the future in giblets during her shift at Syon Chicken factory. Goodnight from the wood sprite Death Scab, considering tomorrow’s cursesf or those who don’t pay his passage tithe. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from Oakley village, where the dark is uneasy since ‘The Man Next Door Might Be A Werewolf’ posters went up. Goodnight from Rob Ash, sitting on the landing with his little sisters hoping for a repeat appearance of the ghost who walks the stairs. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the Museum of the Road, where the 1926 Winter-Wyvern automobile once owned by C.L. Nolan keeps blinking its headlamps as if in Morse code. Goodnight from Hobstone Bridge where Joe Bark is on watch for the Empress Eel slithering the fields. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight from the Children-made-of-Thorns who are playing in the darkened wood, waving manglewurzel lanterns as they go. Goodnight from the Moss Maidens getting comfy in their fern nests, dreaming down tomorrow’s rain. Goodnight from Hookland.
Goodnight Hookland and all who pass through, over or under her winding roads, freshly harvested fields or sleepy beaches. May the Drowned Dead be lulled by the sound of the waves and the King-Under-the-Seah turn his gaze elsewhere. Goodnight from the deep March, the moon-trapping mere. Goodnight.
Each hill has its own voice. Put your ear to one and you’ll hear echoes that travelled all the way from St. Martin’s Land – bells from the churches of eternal twilight, prayers from bone fields, screams of prophecy from the inmates of the Abyss’s Glass Asylum. Put your ear to another and you can hear the heartbeat of the Cobbing Giant booming in the hollow dark. At Bell Hill they say the sleep-twisting of the giant worm that lives within is detectable. Climb either of the Maidens for roar of midnight waters, seductive whispers giving directions to hidden doors down to Under-Albion. At Magog’s Mound the sound of mighty hammers is heard – though no-one agrees on who strikes them. Most regulars in pubs near the edge of it shadow have the hammering as the industry of Night Apes or Cave Chits, but John Hayman at The Old Gribble refuses such nonsense. “All know Cave Chits don’t have metal, they only have bone and stone. Night Apes live too far down to hear them at forge. It’s the son of Wade who makes them blows. If you know the secret words he’ll even come to surface to trade cattle for a knife that will never dull.” – C.L. Nolan, Doors To Under-Albion, Marden’s Miscellany, 1894
Hookland Roll of Kindness
Lee Ann Day
K J Stark
In kindness there is connectivity, an impulse for good and a better world that is not denied. Kindness is a refusal of darkness. In its graceful light friendships have been found, lives saved and hope restored. – C.L. Nolan