It felt like I grew up on the very edge of the countryside; only a few hundred yards away were open fields. My street was the penultimate street before farmland, the first house on a development of houses built on sold off land that had belonged to a large house...and if this was a Stephen King story the big old house - it doesn't even seem too big when I look at it now - would be the focus of this tale, but it isn't, so it isn't (if you're still with me).
We had a long thin garden and at the end of our garden beyond the hedge was a group...I hesitate to say street for there didn't seem to be any roads...of derelict cottages. And they were really, really old. I hear 16th or 17th Century most frequently in relation to them and maybe at some stage our garden had been their rubbish heap because it was full of broken fragments of claypipe - little white tubes (my Dad even found a pretty much whole pipe and smoked it for a while...very Solomon Kane!).
These cottages were pretty creepy - and one - seemed to be the largest was very near the hedge and seemed to overlook my garden from a single large broken window. I say overlooked...what I imagined was a witch watching me from the window as I played. A witch probably inspired by the Witch from the Dutch TV show 'Paulus the Gnome' which played on my local ITV station. I sometimes mentioned the witch to my mother at a very young age (4? 5?) but I couldn't have been that scared because I took to creeping through a hole in the hedge into the grounds of the cottages. I tended to confine myself to the 'gardens' rather than dare go into the houses. But I did notice things inside the houses...someone had carried a bale of straw from the fields and opened it up in one room to make bedding. Giving me the erroneous impression that some invisible creature was trying to make the place more comfortable. "Probably a tramp," explained my mother. But we didn't get a lot of tramps out in the country. I suppose teenagers/courting couples was more likely but they too must've been very low profile.
As I grew older I realised that what I had thought was a witch was a broken section of plaster on the far wall beyond the window. I now perceived the shape to be more like a sailing ship...broad sails and gib instead of pointy nose and hat.
Around the age of six I came home one day and the quality of light in the back garden seemed different...and I swear...I was able to relax and breathe slightly more easily. It took a moment to realise what had happened. Without warning, in the course of a single day the spooky old cottages had been demolished. The setting sun made long shadows on our vegetable patch and lawn in ways it had never been able to previously.
That evening I snuck through the hedge again and surveyed a mass of broken bricks that stood in front of me like a mountain. Whatever lived in there ghost, monster or witch could not have survived that...
Then a voice suddenly shouted at me in the semi-darkness of this overgrown and wrecked garden.
"Little boys aren't allowed to play in here!" The black and beastly monstrous shape resolved itself to be a security guard with a big German Shepherd dog. With my heart in my mouth I dove through the hedge like a rabbit and never returned (to what would soon be just a rather mundane building site).
The cottages only exist now in the terrain of my imagination and a totally unreadable novella I penned at age 16 under heavy Stephen King and James Herbert influence. And if I have chance tomorrow I'm going to try live blogging updates on the number of trick or treaters who come to my door with general observations on the celebration of Halloween during my lifetime in the UK. See you then my people.
Sunday, 30 October 2011
Saturday, 15 October 2011
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
It takes very little provocation for me to witter on endlessly about the genius of Billy Wilder's movie 'The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes' - the plot is quite twisty and turny so it seems strange that the movie poster (as seen here on the cover of Movie Collector Magazine July/August 1994) looks to me like one massive spoiler...
It also has one of the most haunting musical scores ever written for a movie...and...the most frightening (totally without warning/broad-daylight) TV moment of my childhood in the Glen Nahurich cemetery when the 'little boys' visit the grave of their brother. If you've seen the movie you won't have forgotten that sequence.