Arnos Vale Cemetery

Took my son for a jolly in Arnos Vale Cemetery today – I know, he’s a lucky lad, right?

My work in progress, We Are Gathered, will hopefully be performed here in October, so I wanted to get a feel for the place. After an explore through the shadows and having collected over a hundred and twenty photos (ones featured salvaged from the mass of photobombings), I have enough to start on the second draft.

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Arnos Vale is a forty-five acre Victorian Garden Cemetery alive with nature trails, a Forest school, guided tours, hidden symbols, underground tunnels and weddings, in the heart of the vibrant UK city of Bristol. For more info, visit www.arnosvale.org

 

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Exhibiting UDP

One of the topics I’m exploring in my story, Hashtag Rewilding, is sexual harassment and how it is ingrained in our society.

This behaviour has transferred to the virtual world where it has become rife, possibly because devices offer a false sense of anonymity. A lot of the women I know have been sent unsolicited pictures of male genitalia via social media. If that is the case, then we must surely come into daily contact with men who have sent this type of image.

Whitney Bell’s art show, I Didn’t Ask For This: A Lifetime Of Dick Pics, which ran at Rhabbitat L.A. in Spring last year addresses this issue in quite a powerful way. I’ve included Konbini’s interview with Bell here.

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Quote: Simone Fiasco. Image source: Vice magazine

Ten Amazing Crow Facts

As a writer, my internet searches tend to be quite bizarre and the results equally so (and regularly NSFW). I have often thought about writing a post containing a list of my most unusual inputs.

Yesterday, I googled ‘crow’s feet’. Not weird particularly, but it did uncover a site all about corvids, a bird species steeped in myth, and one that will feature in my fiction sooner or later.

Here are ‘ten amazing facts’ about corvids via the site, Aves Noir – a site worth exploring.

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No Tricks Just Treats from MUP this Hallowe’en.

More on the special MUP Hallowe’en offer. To get your 30% discount on their gothic list simply go to the MUP website and enter Halloween16 at the checkout. Offer expires at midnight on 31st October……don’t wait for the witching hour get spooky book shopping now!! Halloween Special Offer

via Hallowe’en Special Offer from Manchester University Press — Open Graves, Open Minds

Mother Trees

I’m reworking The Red Spot Murders tonight. It’s a Pourquoi story exploring the haunted house phenomenon, and features a delightful antagonist by the name of Maeve. It was by researching this character that I learned that there are such things as Mother Trees. I had hoped there were. In fact I typed that exact term into my Google search to see what would come up, and was rewarded with this wonderful TED talk with Suzanne Simard, a Canadian ecologist. Damn, the woods have just got a whole load creepier.

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In the hour we killed

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Holy Trinity Churchyard, Buckfastleigh, Devon

Yesterday had been bookmarked for location research. St Austell, Cornwall was the destination and we set off early in the morning before the heavens opened and turned the roads to rivers.

Someway into our journey, we had diverted from the A38, into Buckfastleigh – a waking little town on the edge of Dartmoor – to get a coffee fix. It was then that we heard the car’s exhaust clank with every slight crease in the blanket of tarmac. And there were a lot of creases; it would have seemed that this particular stretch of Devon tarmac had suffered a rather restless night.

Having just passed a garage we were in a rather lucky position, and had two replacement clamps fitted where the original ones should have been, by a decent chap with a shy smile and a spark in his eye, within the hour.

However, I departed from that emerging town a different person because of what I and my friend had discovered in that hour we killed in Buckfastleigh.

Not far from the garage there are the Kissing Steps: a steep flight of limestone kerbs and one hundred and ninety-six stone steps stretching under sheltering branches of the woodland that hide Pengelly Caves. We took breath several times on the climb up until we were eventually led to ruins. We had found Holy Trinity Church.

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Holy Trinity Church, Buckfastleigh, Devon

I have an illogical attraction to buildings without roofs no matter if they were once Holy or secular, grandly imposing or an outhouse. But the appearance of an elderly man sweeping the open-air nave suppressed my enthusiasm. Depending on which method you use, summer had not ended and there were very little leaves littering the church and I quickly began making up stories (as I am prone to do) to explain his being there, while my friend simply went to say hello.

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The tomb of Robert Cabell

Near the gate, there is a structure that looks like a prison cell and is wholly out of place among the weather-worn and lichen-plagued lopsided headstones and rusted iron railings. It is in partial view in my second photograph, and (I found out later) holds the tomb of Squire Cabell: A reportedly wicked man who hunted on the neighbouring moors with his hounds. It is said that he sold his soul to the Devil, and murdered his wife. After he was interred in 1677, a number of ghastly black hounds came loping across the moors to fetch his soul. The tomb itself (which may be, in part, Conan Doyle’s inspiration for Hounds of the Baskervilles) has been strengthened by a large slab placed on top of it (to keep Cabell in, apparently) and the cell bars emanate a red glow at night. The Squire’s ghost can also be seen stomping around the graveyard.

As I stood there, feeling rather hungry as the day’s first drops of summer rain fell from the gloomy skies, and watching my friend say goodbye to the sweeper of the nave, I was unaware of this legend of Squire Cabell. My friend had told me of it when we were back on the A38. The sensation I experienced then, reminded me that fear is often heightened when a writer leads you to assume a conclusion and saves the unexpected reveal to the very end, leaving the reader to relive the events after the cover is closed.

Who knows to what extent the legend of Squire Cabell is true? Ghosts, devils and fearful villagers are common in folklore. But there is, directly under his tomb in Pengelly Caves, a stalactite that has dripped to form an effigy of a man dressed in seventeenth century clothes.

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