Monday, June 19, 2017
Last month I watched two fantastic pieces of vintage British television horror. Shalcken The Painter was the 1979 continuation of the festive A Ghost Story for Christmas slot on the BBC and whose plot revolved around an artist’s lost love and her terrible fate. The Beast was an episode of the West Country Tales series of the early Eighties involving a city dweller’s encounter with a ghastly aggressive entity in the Cornish woods - the creature being played by the familiar character actor and former wrestler Milton Reid who can be seen in three of Mary Millington’s features.
In light of the latter work I have recently finished Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange by Adam Scovell which was published some months ago. Forging beyond the main cinematic trilogy associated with this sub-genre - Witchfinder General, The Wicker Man and Blood on Satan’s Claw - and the short stories of MR James, the book incorporates analysis of a truly comprehensive scope of Sixties, Seventies and Eighties film and television material from the Play for Today features Robin Redbreast and Penda’s Fen to the Hammer horrors Plague of the Zombies and The Witches and the Dr Who Jon Pertwee serials The Sea Devils and The Daemons.
Beyond the obvious association of these works with the British landscape and countryside - and of course the occult - there is consideration of similarly eerie creative dynamics that were transfused into urban settings right through to Public Information Films for children in the Seventies. The writing is academic in part but it was still a fascinating read and comes highly recommended.
In a not dissimilar context some months ago I read Thomas Sheridan’s absolutely intriguing fourth book The Druid Code. I am huge fan of Sheridan’s work by way of his Velocity of Now broadcasts and the incredibly interesting discussion of politics and Forteana to be found on his youtube channel and website.
At first I expected this book to have considerably less appeal to me than his previous book Walpurgis Night on the occult roots of Nazism but found it an extradordinary deconstruction of ancient British and Irish history as relating to the complexity of megalithic remains across the British Archipelago, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. It also traces the passage of magic theory from druidic sources into witchcraft and freemasonry. Years ago I got engaged to my partner at the Holestone in Doagh in County Down and in turn have visited many of the places that Sheridan talks about in Ireland and the English West Country. Sheridan is both an insightful mind and a genuinely good humorous soul - his recent documentary works on occult Dublin and the mythology of Germany’s Odenwald Forest have been exemplary.
Both of these books of course hold particular relevance at this time of acute political and cultural strain in Britain as harking back to the purest of connections with our folk past - yet untrammeled and unsullied in this world of avarice, directionlessness and idiocy.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
This week has seen some extraordinary political developments across the British Isles - in Northern Ireland alone the shocking electoral outplay for Unionism equals the February 1974 victory of the United Ulster Unionist Council albeit this time within the remit of a sole political party who have become the Kingmakers of the next UK government.
The off-message nature of much Democratic Unionist Party discourse over the years should of course have seen the organisation wither on the metaphorical vine following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement - to the secular benefit of the Ulster Unionist Party, Alliance and even New Loyalism - but the outplay has proved radically different.
As this blog has noted on many occasions, the historical revisionism attached to much post-Troubles discourse from Irish Republican sources has proved both toxic and unrelenting. The price for the broad stroke rebranding of the takers of human life as folk heroes without equivocation has clearly now been paid in kind while mainstream British media stayed silent throughout.
The same selective dumbness from the major news outlets of course affected the sole fundamental demographic explanation for the Brexit vote. Or even the slight moral dichotomy of the leader of the British Party of Labour having historically expressed less than due regard for the wellbeing of thousands of working class English, Scottish and Welsh soldiers who staved off a civil war in Ulster that threatened my own street and doorstep.
British politics today appears mired within a confluence of deeply complex and contradictory economic, social and cultural dynamics. Any restorative move towards civic respect, structural stability and genuine progression will embark upon a long lonely journey across a desolate British landscape.
That vista in turn transfigured by a decade of fake media, the asset stripping of millions of Britons’ futures by employers and banks, the infrastructural devastation of our capital city, gormless political imbecility of the general public, the immoral filth of the Ponzi property scam, unbridgeable class division and a national sub-psyche of profound disappointment in all that has came to pass on this bitter wind.