Sunday, 22 October 2017

Where Can I Buy Netherwood?

The new revised edition of Netherwood is available from the following bookshops:

Hastings Old Town:

Hare & Hawthorn here

Albion Books here


Atlantis here

Treadwells here

Watkins here

Also online from The Big Cartel here

There are still places for the free talk on the Folklore of London at Kensington Library on Monday 23rd at which copies of Netherwood will be on sale. Here

Thursday, 12 October 2017

The Magickal Battle of Hastings

I'm very excited to be part of this event taking place in the Masonic Hall in St Leonards.  I shall be talking about Netherwood early in the evening, Matthew Shaw will be providing accompaniment to a short film and English Heretic will headline with a Boleskine-themed set (with film taken inside the now-ruined house).  It's likely that one or two others will be added to the bill - more to follow.

Some more information:

"Matthew Shaw is a Dorset based artist & poet, using landscape perception, site specific recording techniques and meditation as a compositional gateway. Exploring the theory that each piece could only happen within the exact place, time and atmosphere it is created. Working with present tense composition and the spirit of place, 'The last resort' will be performed for the first and only time on December 1st 2017. An imaginal sound work, channelling lost and recreated conversational fragments from Netherwood along with field recordings from the area as it sounds now."

Copies of Netherwood and Secret Tunnels of England will be on sale, together with recordings and merchandise for Matthew Shaw and English Heretic.

All for an entrance fee of a mere £6.00.

Welcome to 10666 Country!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Coming Up

To Chichester last Sunday to see the John Minton exhibition at the excellent Pallant House Gallery.  Most of the best works from his tragically short career were on display, including his beautiful book covers for the likes of the influential publisher John Lehmann and best sellers such as Elizabeth David's A Book of Mediterranean Food (1950) and French Country Cooking (1951).  I had never seen the large-scale history paintings he produced at the end, but I thought these the least successful in the show - sadly he took his own life in 1957 aged 39.

I would love to have time to see more live music, but it isn't possible at the moment.  Just these for now:

Tuesday 10th October Meier Budjana Group (with Asaf Sirkis on drums and Jimmy Haslip bass) Jazz Hastings

Great show.  If you are interested in World Music, Prog and Jazz you should catch them on their tour. Amazing playing from all concerned.

Friday 13th October The Flaming Stars The Lexington, London

The support band Get Your Gun (from Aalborg in Denmark) were very good.  Sounds like Brendan Perry from Dead Can Dance singing over guitar from the school of My Bloody Valentine or Spiritualized.  Powerful and convincing.  More on them here.

Wednesday 25th October Public Service Broadcasting De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill

Thursday 26th October Salon for the City with Sarah Wise and Kim Newman talking about (I hope) Quatermass and the Pit.

I shall be giving a folklore talk in London on Monday 23rd October.  Book here.  Copies of Netherwood and other books will be on sale.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Psychomania and Mutations

Watched Psychomania yesterday - a favourite of English Heretic - a kind of zombie biker story. Enjoyable, not scary at all, but with some very effective scenes: the atmospheric opening, showing the slo-mo bikers riding through a stone circle (created for the film) that has importance for the finale;    a 360 degree pan around a morgue that initially shows the police guarding one of the gang members pretending to be dead and finishes with the policemen dead inside the glass-fronted chilling cabinets (unlike most movie morgues).  The interior design of the gang leader's mother's (played by Beryl Reid) house is also striking - pure late 60s early 70s (the film dates from 1973) with one of those ball-shaped televisions that you only ever see in films or tv shows from the period (did anyone actually own one?).  The extensive stunt work is also impressive.  There are some funny moments such as the burial of Nicky Henson's gang leader sitting on his bike and some of the dialogue.  Soundtrack by noted composer John Cameron whose other credits include Kes.

The cast includes George Sanders as a sinister butler in his last film and a young Robert Hardy whose performance (and accent) is pretty poor.  An insightful review here and information on locations here.

Also watched the utterly bizarre Mutations (1974, dir. Jack Cardiff), a mad scientist (Donald Pleasence) genre piece, with a late psychedelic aura, but featuring very unsettling and gratuitous (literally eye-popping) footage of a freak show at its heart.  The show is based in Battersea Park, which was interesting to me, as I grew up near there and regularly went to the funfair which also appears, as does an atmospheric Albert Bridge.  One of the hapless student characters bears the amusing name Tony Croydon.  Despite being facially unrecognisable in disfiguring makeup Tom Baker (just prior to Doctor Who?  He already has the long scarf) is still unmistakably Tom Baker.  Also another unusual and discordant soundtrack courtesy of Basil Kirchin.  Online review here.  Day of the Triffids meets Tod Browning's Freaks.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Cornish Encounters

During our summer holiday we visited Mawnan in south-east Cornwall, where a peaceful old church nestles close to the cliff edge in a large churchyard that may be an ancient earthwork.  A wedding had just finished and the church was locked, but we were interested in the churchyard and surrounding area.

The church and its environs were alleged to have been the scene - mainly in the mid-1970s - of the appearance of a strange entity known as 'Owlman'.  More information here and here.  The involvement of Doc Shiels with the investigation should also be noted.  There are also parallels with Mothman.

In one encounter the flying creature was said to have hovered over the church tower.  With the aid of my children we recreated this scene (see above).  There is a beautiful walk from the church along a coastal path through trees to emerge into a spectacular view over the sea and the estuary of the Helford River.  Sadly, owlman failed to swoop.  Wandering through the churchyard a couple of fairly recent interments caught my eye: Hugh Scully, one-time Antiques Roadshow presenter (who I didn't know had died) and Patrick Woodroffe (1940-2014) who produced cover art for many Corgi science fiction novels in the 1970s and album covers (Budgie, Judas Priest, Pallas) including that archetypal prog behemoth Dave Greenslade's The Pentateuch of the Cosmogony, for which he also illustrated the accompanying book.

Another memorable visit was to the Poldark Tin Mine, where a knowledgable and expert guide took us around the damp underground passages.

Also had a chance to revisit the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, which gets a mention in Netherwood.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Many Hauntings of Burton Agnes Hall

A recent read has been Calvariae Disjecta: The Many Hauntings of Burton Agnes Hall (Information as Material, 2017) edited by Robert Williams and Hilmar Schaefer.  I've complained in this blog before about the sloppy nature of the vast majority of 'non-fiction' ghost books that repeat earlier versions of the same story without doing any basic research and sometimes weave new details into the embroidery.  The idea of this book is to take all the extant narratives of one ghost story and put them in chronological order so that the reader can see the way in the which the basic text is transformed and enlarged in the retelling, with tropes from other pieces of ghostly folklore interpolated as the legend evolves.  In this instance it is the story of the so-called 'Screaming Skull' of Burton Agnes Hall in East Yorkshire.  The earliest account traced thus far was printed in The Folklore Journal of November 1880 and the narrative is followed all the way up to paranormal sites on the internet.  It makes fascinating reading.  Review by Phil Baker in the TLS here.

At its simplest, the narrative concerns a daughter of the hall's owners who was fatally attacked by robbers - before she died she requested that her head be kept in the house; her family instead buried her whole body in the local church (or churchyard) and subsequently all kinds of ghostly goings on occurred until the grave was opened and her (by that time desiccated) skull taken into the house.  If it was ever removed for any reason the supernatural outbreaks recurred.   I found it amusing to see how details were added or mangled so that, for example, in one much later account the name of the family involved changes from Griffith to Griffin and clanking chains are introduced for the first time.  The funniest must be the accounts of the skull rolling out of the house and bowling itself at skittles.

In many versions a maid unwittingly throws the skull from a window where it lands in a passing manure cart (later a cabbage cart) pulled by horses (or donkeys) that refuse to move until the skull is removed.  By coincidence, this week I was reading Supernatural Peak District by David Clarke which has a chapter on skulls and stone heads - lo and behold there is exactly the same story attached to Flagg Hall in Derbyshire.

Apparently the Burton Agnes skull was walled up somewhere in the house at some point in the early twentieth century.  The book is not so much a folklore study as an art project and also contains a dialogue between the editors and a section of various photographs of the skull motif.  The photos of the skull-encrusted tomb in the local church certainly make one wonder whether the origins of the story might lie there.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Coming Up

The new edition of Netherwood has now been sent to eager purchasers in Germany, Belgium, Ireland, Sweden, New Zealand, Japan, Canada and of course the USA.

Copies are only on sale online from here at present.

In Hastings it can be purchased at Albion Books, George Street and also from Hare & Hawthorn 31a West St -  both shops in the Old Town.

I have a talk coming up in the excellent lecture theatre at Kensington Central Library on The Folklore of London.  Monday 23 October, FREE, with my books on sale at reduced prices.  Copies of Netherwood will also be available, but at full price.  Details here.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Hidden Subterranean Euston

Last Sunday I had the (expensive) opportunity to visit parts of Euston underground station not open to the public, including the deep level interchange ticket office between the C&SLR and the CCE&HR and tunnels closed to the public since the early 1960s.  For the history of these tunnels see here.  Apart from the abandoned lift shaft and atmospheric dark tunnels the collage effect of the historic film posters still visible on the tunnel walls was an artistic experience in itself.  Some photos I took.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Netherwood: Last Resort of Aleister Crowley New Edition

UPDATE: 14/09/17  Copies are selling fast, especially to the USA.  40 books this week.  I was hoping more copies would be bought in the UK this time around, so hurry up before you miss out.  There's a special deal with Secret Tunnels of England as a twofer.  See the Big Cartel link below.  I have a talk in Kensington in London on 23 October at which copies will be for sale, more details very soon.  Price will increase as stocks dwindle (a lesson learned from other small presses).

The first edition of Netherwood: Last Resort of Aleister Crowley has been unavailable for some years now and is fetching high prices from dealers online, so some of you may be pleased to hear that a new edition has just been published.  It's a limited edition of 500 published by Accumulator Press that's been thoroughly revised and updated by A Gentleman of Hastings, with a frontispiece not part of the first edition and including three Netherwood-related inserts for those who order online before supplies run out.   Hardback, 227 pages, 24 pages of b/w and 4 colour illustrations, book ribbon.  It's competitively priced at £30 plus postage of £3.00 for UK.

To avoid disappointment order soon.  For the time being there are two ways:

The Accumulator Press shop on The Big Cartel (Paypal only) HERE

Orders payable by cheque use this email:

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Talk on Rollo Ahmed in Hastings

Before I write about recent Antonine happenings I should publicise this talk on Friday about Rollo Ahmed in Hastings (subject of a previous post of mine here).  As I shall be at work in London and preparing for my Decadent London walk on Saturday (totally booked up for some weeks) I sadly can't go.  Christopher Josiffe is a great public speaker and this mysterious Hastings character should be more widely known.   The venue Grand Rue de Pera is in Queen's Road, Hastings.

A while ago an article appeared in The Hastings & St Leonards Observer about Christopher's quest for more knowledge about Ahmed.  See here.