Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Spook Sightings Of Yester Year No.6 - The Big Border Cat-Dog




Originally I was going to post a much bigger collection of various odd-things that have happened to me over the years, but then with being at college yesterday and generally being a bit burnt out after a long month of posting, I've decided to save some of those tales for next year's Countdown....

I did however promise to tell you about my own potential Black Shuck sighting in a previous post, so I'll go ahead an do that to wrap up this Halloween's spook sightings!

It all began with a trip to my Auntie Peg's house where my brother and I were going to stay the night with our cousin Lorraine. They lived in a spooky old house in the Scottish Borders called Langton Kennels, which is maybe where the person in charge of the dogs for Langton House Estate lived back when the grand old house itself still existed. But Langton House was demolished in the 50s, leaving behind a few of the surrounding houses of which this was one...



As you can see from the picture, it was quite a spooky place indeed, and had a path in the back garden that led to a forest, and a nearby saw-mill cut wood from the forest trees. Also nearby was a plant nursery, and there were lots of old walls and remnants of the old estate dotted around to make the place even more interesting to explore....

All of which has nothing really at all to do with the story, other than to give you an idea of the sorts of settings I used to hang around in! The whole place felt like something out of a horror movie, but not in a bad way...if that makes sense? It had an air of familiarity about it even if you were visiting for the first time, and although the house was welcoming and likable it also had a sense of the past around it, and when the sun went down its close proximity to the woods, big giant saws and freaky old walls added to its spooky atmosphere, which as a group of kids in the 80s brought up on late-night-horror TV, we all loved!

Anyway, like I said, this has little to do with this story other than that is where we were headed for the night. After getting picked up by my Auntie Peg, we drove to my Granny Kirk's house, where she had collected together bags of old clothes that my brother, cousin and I were to try on, see if any fitted us, and then take any that did away..



I remember being annoyed about this, because we discovered that my Auntie had nipped to my other cousin's house beside my Gran's to watch the second part of the V  mini-series which was being aired on TV that night, and my brother and I had really wanted to see the resolution of the alien baby cliffhanger! This is a very handy point to remember because it means that with the wonders of modern technology and old TV guides, we can accurately date the sighting to August 1984 ...

So after an hour or two of trying on clothes, the ones we were keeping were bundled up and put into black bags, and placed in the back seat of my auntie's car. Us three kids went into the boot of the car, which had been converted into a caged-off dog area so my auntie's dogs could go in the back without clambering over into the back seat. We didn't mind this at all, as it was quite fun to be caged off in our own little space where we could pretend to be dogs, or prisoners of aliens, or whatever else our imaginations could come up with.

 Finally we set off along the old hill road, over the Lammermuirs towards Langton. It always seemed to be a road that was covered in fog, and visibility was often poor with drivers only being able to see a couple of feet in front of them, and tonight was one of those nights!  A bit further along the road, when we were up in the hills and chatting away amongst ourselves, we suddenly saw something at the side of the road....




As I remember it, there were two gleaming eyes and a set of big sharp pointy teeth snarling back at me from the dark, and a faint outline of a big dog-shaped creature attached to them! It clearly wasn't happy about us being there and passing it, and we were clearly all shocked into quietness by it's appearance....

My Auntie drew the car to a sudden stop, muttered something about escaped Pumas, and then opened her door and jumped out of the car, leaving the door wide open as she wandered off into the fog....

"Here puss, puss......here kitty......" her voice got quieter and quieter as she got further away.....

Now I know what you're thinking. This is not necessarily the first thing that would occur to any normal person to do upon sighting a big snarling hell-beast at the side of the road on a foggy night! But my Auntie Peg is no normal woman...born and raised in the remote border hills between England and Scotland, I struggle to think of anyone tougher, man or woman, and more able to handle themselves against a hound from hell or alien big cat! Also, by her logic, we were pretty safe behind the cage in the back of the car, so any incoming pumas or shucks wouldn't be able to easily get at us....



A puma is what she believed it to be, and indeed knew a man locally who kept such beasts,  and so she thought that it might have been one of his that had escaped and thus not quite as dangerous maybe as it would have been if it was a totally wild cat. This explains her willingness to go into the fog, but whether or not it was a good idea, I'll leave for you to decide!

For my cousin, brother and I sitting in the back of a car with the door wide open, and a potential devil hound or hungry feline roaming about outside, it was more than a little scary! After a minute or two though, Peg appeared back saying she couldn't see anything and whisked us off to Langton so she could make some calls to enquire about missing big cats.

I definitely remember it being more dog like than cat like, but the opinions vary, and as a memory from a seven year old brain being recalled from a forty year old one, the details are a bit sketchy! My brother remembers it having a sort-of more squashed in face, therefore making it more cat like, although I guess depending on where we were sitting, we would all see it a bit differently.....But we had all definitely seen something snarling at us from the side of the road that was bigger than usual, noticabley angry and totally out of place! I do also seem to remember it looking very black, and as the actual existence of black pumas is somewhat contentious, especially running wild in Scotland, this makes deciding what it actually was a bit trickier....

Phone calls were made, but no-one was missing any big cats. I can't really remember much more being said about it at the time, although the story would sometimes be recalled when we all got together, and even recently my cousin mentioned it on Facebook, so we can all still remember it and it clearly made an impact on us.

My Auntie Peg's theory of escaped Pumas makes even more sense when you take into account that it was far from the first sighting of big cats in the Lammermuir Hills, with may sightings of alleged Pumas going back several years. One such sighting is chronicled on the Scottish Big Cat Trust site, and so here's a transcript of that as it appears there....

"Report from Ronnie Patterson

The Beast of Lammermuir

Sheep stalking at Garvald, June 1982

On a Sunday morning early in June 1982, Mr Thomas Catleugh from Garvald, East Lothian, saw what seemed to be a puma stalking sheep in a field at Garvald Mains Farm.

He recalls. "The animal was about twenty inches high with a long body and a tail measuring about three feet. It was dark grey in colour and I noticed a dark sheen along its back. As I watched, the animal neared the sheep, moving very stealthily crouching down on its forelegs. The sheep moved away and it lay down where it had been. Its large rounded ears lay back on its head and its jaw constantly opened and closed. I have never seen an animal with such a deep jaw, the way it studied the sheep I was sure I was going to see a kill. I was less than forty feet away and I had a very good view, but as I am not all that quick on my feet, I thought by the time I warned anyone it would be away."



Mr Catleugh had hoped that a car would pass so that he could ask the driver to inform the police, but none did. After about an hour the animal walked away, Mr Catleugh told the farmer, Gavin Hamilton, who called the police and the SSPCA. The area was searched but without success.

A few days later, a monk at the nearby Nunraw Abbey reported that he had seen the animal run across open fields. Mr John Williamson of the SSPCA was certain that a puma was at large, he then said: "A sheep was killed last weekend and I have not seen a carcass like that before. Previous evidence linked to the latest story makes me believe that a puma is in the district."

June 1982"

So what did we see that night? A big cat that has been roaming around for ages? A local dog that had wandered off and was angry at being lost? A ghostly Black Shuck warning us about some form of impending doom? Some sort of collective mistaking of a particularly vexed sheep?




I guess we'll never know the answer. We never saw any sign of it ever again, although rumours still persisted about roaming big cats for a good few years afterwards. A few years passed and my Auntie and Uncle moved from Langton too, meaning we no longer get to experience the freaky splendor of that place anymore either, although my Auntie and cousin still live nearby...

Whatever it was, it certainly makes for an interesting story I'm sure you'll agree. And as I've said before it's one of many such weird happenings that have occurred to my family and I over the years, so if you come back in say...oh, about 11 months.....I'll have a few more tales to tell!

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Cinema Of Stuff Presents...A Double Bill Of Dracula!







HOUSE OF DRACULA!




------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------





THE RETURN OF DRACULA!




(Just had time to put together this quick Cinema Of Stuff post...pop back to the blog tomorrow for some more spook sightings and maybe some more Gruesome Games...We can still post spooky stuff, 'cause we have two Days Of The Dead to celebrate too! )


Horror Stars Haunt My Youtube!



Here's another selection of Radio & TV shows starring some of my favourite Horror Stars! Managed to put this together quite quickly, but I'd best be off to college now! Just in case I don't manage to post anything else today, have a Happy Halloween! But hopefully I'll squeeze another couple of posts in when I get back!

Anyway, enjoy these horrific treats!



Peter Lorre in Mystery In The Air - Horla!




Boris Karloff's Thriller - Parasite Mansion!



Bela Lugosi in Suspense - The Doctor Prescribed Death!







Vincent Price & Peter Cushing in The Price Of Fear - The Man Who Hated Scenes!




Dracula Graphic Novel read by Christopher Lee!





Invitation To Horror!




Happy Hallowe'en!

It's here at last, and so after a last bout of posting today I can finally spend my time reading all the other blogs taking part in the Countdown in a bit more depth and wallow in the splendid spookiness of my favourite festival!

That's after I get back from my college course, of course! I'm wondering if I go dressed as a Creature From The Black Lagoon and build a bonfire in the middle of the college hall they'll have a problem with it? Hmm, might be worth a shot....



Anyway, I'm going to try and get a few posts done today regardless...we'll see how I feel after I get back.....but here's one to be starting with, and it's another trip to the Digital Comic Museum!

Today's tale has a twist that I definitely didn't see coming after a fairly generic story that starts with a group sheltering from a storm in a nearby mansion......

It appeared in Holyoke Publishing's Suspense Comics 004, dated June 1944, and features Pencils and Inks by Jack Alderman...









Weird huh!? Those guys names sound oddly familiar.....

Anyway, thanks go to rangerhouse who uploaded these scans to the museum for me to find in the archives!

Ok, stay tuned and hopefully there'll be some more posts later today! See you later, stuffers!


Monday, 30 October 2017

Historic Hallowe'en!



So I mentioned the other day in a comment that I had signed up to the British Newspaper Archive website, that lets you browse hundreds of old British newspapers, and includes a handy search function to help you find what you're looking for.

I've been having lots of fun looking for old spook sightings and weird events, some of which I'll post next year (or maybe even in the Creepmas Countdown!), but I thought it would also be fun to do a search for Halloween and see what it came up with!

Here then, is a selection of some of the stuff I've discovered so far...which contrary to what I've read some places online, proves we've been dressing up, making lanterns from turnips and pumpkins and doing all the traditional Hallowe'en stuff we still do nowadays, for a very long time indeed!


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




First up is a poem, printed in the Coleraine Chronicle, November 8 1851, titled 'Gay Hallowe'en'.......



SONGS FOR THE SEASON

No.1
GAY HALLOWE'EN

I

Hallowe'en! How it gladdens the heart and the brain,
To see the old festival coming again!
Like hope to the heart that affliction has bow'd -
Like rainbow o'erarching the gloom of the cloud, -
Like a vision - it comes to console us while mirth
Has exorcised care from the bosom of earth;
And pleasure and joy, like twin-angels, are seen,
Descending to gladden and cheer Hallowe'en

II

The School boy's proud eye - Oh! no longer it looks
In anger and sulkiness over his books;
No, - the streamlet re-echoes, while dancing along,
The fervour and mirth of his laugh and his song.
As soon as day dawn o'er the vale he espies,
With his comrades at morn to the greenwood he flies;
And till even smiles down on the landscape serene,
The nuts are a-gathered for gay Hallowe'en.

III

The furrows that Time's rugged finger had traced
On the brow of old age, Hallowe'en has effaced!
And the joy and the smiles that so gladdened of yore - 
Are they gilding those wrinkles and furrows once more?
Yes, years are forgotten, and gray hairs, and pain,
And the heart of three score is young - playful again!
As in youth it had sported, and played on the green,
It sports now as merry on gay Hallowe'en

IV

We're told that old Rome, the sage mistress of earth, 
Had her deity - guardians to watch o'er the hearth;
Her Lares presiding o'er hearthstone and flue -
And why should not we have our deities too! - 
Let mirth be enshrined then, and friendship and love!
And with these three Divinities guarding the scene - 
Whose heart will not throb upon gay Hallowe'en!

V

Higher still, to shut out the night's gathering gloom,
Pile the fire on the hearth till it roar through the room!
Gather round - gather round, for with dainties the board
Fit for epicures feast is abundantly stored :-
The apples are baked, and the child and the sire
Are watching the nuts cracking loud in the fire :- 
And the proud little dames in amazement have seen
The face of their lovers on gay Hallowe'en!

VI

We care not - not we - altho' gried do it's worst,
In saddening the heart that affection has nurs'd :-
Let the world we despise fling its arrows of wrath - 
Life's tempest its shadow to darken our path :-
There are moments that still to the heart can recall
Emotions of pleasure to brighten them all!
Bright moments from care that we fail not to glean,
Such as light our fireside upon gay Hallowe'en!
                                   MOIRA
From "Mave (*or possibly Mare*) Roe's Round Room",
November, 1851




------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


There's a few festivities mentioned in that poem, getting apples ready for 'dooking' and roasting nuts on the fire to see future husbands, for instance...and here's another snippet from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, dated Wednesday October 30th 1929, that elaborates on these a little!


HALLOWE'EN

Suggestions for To-morrow's Party.

A Hallowe'en party can be a delightful and simple affair, entailing no very elaborate preparations or expense. And the usual fun and frolic on the night when witches and marlocks (*surely they mean Warlocks?*) are believed to walk abroad is as much enjoyed by the grown-ups as by the children.

On that night everyone is a child again and enters with zest into the time honoured games. When Hallowe'en comes round I see a picture of a great old-fashioned farm kitchen with white scrolled flags and a strip carpet here and there. And on the hearth a clipping rug with "Home Sweet Home" in bright red across it.
We children regarded it as a work of art when we helped to make it in the long winter evenings before wireless and gramophones and other modern distractions (*hehe...like Wifi and I-phones!*) were even dreamed of.




When I say children of any age, I mean from seven to 70 and over. In those days the master of the ceremonies was a very old man - at least, he seemed that to us with his snow white hair and beard. We screamed with delight when he dived for apples and came up with the beard dripping wet every time. And we would have cried with disappointment if Mr. Philip could not have come to our Hallowe'en party. Like many more men devoted to children, he was a bachelor.

"Dooking for apples" as the game is called on the north side of the border is always riotous fun, and due preparations should be made for it. A waterproof sheet spread over the carpet is a good idea, and another is a couple of waterproof bibs for the performers - one large and one small. These fitted with strings to tie round neck and waist. The tub, placed in the centre of the sheet, should be half filled with water, and apples of a moderate size chosen. Rosy ones and with the stalks removed, of course.

APPLES

A competition may be arranged and players paired off to dive for apples together. This makes great fun, and the one who secures most apples in a specified time - five minutes or so - scores. At the end of the "dooking" a prize is given, or better still, two - one for ladies and the other for gentlemen.

The prize is a well earned one, for until one has tried to fix one's teeth in an apple, continually bobbing away in the water with exasperating persistence, it is impossible to know how strenuous a business it is.
Sometimes as a substitute for the tub of water the apples are fixed on strings and hung up. But this is not nearly as much fun as the "dooking" process.



Then there are blindfolding games. A variation of the old favourite, blind man's buff, is to provide three or four players with an apple each, and when the blind man grabs one, it's possessor is in turn blindfolded.

THE FUTURE

Three soup plates are placed on a table in the following order : - The first an empty plate, the second containing clean water, and the third muddy - a burnt match will do the trick quite well. Then the blindfolded one is led up to the table to try his or her fortune by dipping fingers in one or other of the plates. The empty one means an unwedded life, the clean water marriage with a young man or maiden, and the third foretells that the bride or groom will be a widow or widower.

Roasting nuts is another fortune-telling game. The players pair off, a boy and a girl, placing a nut for each in front of the fire. The nuts are watched with breathless interest; for if they jump apart, the affair will come to an end. But if the nuts settle down to roast together it means an engagement with a happy ending. Great nonsense of course, but also great fun.

 Illustration to Robert Burns' poem Halloween by J.M. Wright and Edward Scriven

No party nowadays is complete without a dance at Hallowe'en or any other time. and in the intervals, if there is a garden where the homely cabbage is grown, couples may choose a cabbage stalk, in the dark, of course.
In his poem on Hallowe'en Burns says - 
"To burn your nuts and pu' your runts
"And haud your Hallowe'en."
Runts, rendered in plain English, is a cabbage root, and according to the superstition, on the shape of the one chosen depends the grace and the beauty, or the lack of either, of the husband or wife to be !

The girl with many admirers will be able to make a choice if she eats an apple at midnight before her looking-glass. Then the face of the man she will eventually marry will look over her shoulder.
An old lady I know declares it did happen in her case. And as a result of prying into the future she went off in a dead faint.For she did see the face of the man she married a year later and whom she did not meet until later. And she has lived to tell her Hallowe'en adventure to her great grandchildren.
        A.W.S.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


These few pictures from The Dew Drop : A Monthly Magazine For The Young (1873) tell us about turnip lanterns, which is what I always used to have as a nipper before everybody started buying Pumpkins! I didn't get these from the archive, my brother found them and stuck them on Facebook so I nabbed them from there! :)




------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Even Queen Victoria used to get in on the act of celebrating Hallowe'en, as this article on "The Queen's Hallowe'en" from The Morning Post, November 6th 1871 tells us!


CELEBRATION OF HALLOWE'EN AT BALMORAL CASTLE. -

The old Scottish festival of "Hallowe'en" was celebrated at Balmoral Castle with unusual éclat. The demonstration has come to be known in Balmoral and throughout the district as "The Queen's Hallowe'en;" and in accordance with the royal desire, and following the custom of past years, most of the people, both on the Balmoral and Abergeldie estates, turned out on Tuesday night, and formed a torchlight procession, which had a picturesque and imposing appearance.
Those who came from the east side of Balmoral met at the entrance to the grounds to the east of the Castle, where the torches were lighted. The Balmoral contingent, including the servants, ghillies, and the tenants on the west side, met at Mr. Grant's, and lighted their torches there.



This party, headed by Mr. Ross, her Majesty's piper, then began their march towards the Castle, while the party from the east side marched past the front of the Castle, and on by the carriage drive through the lawn to meet those from the west.
When the two parties came in sight of each other and joined their forces the sight was very fine. There were altogether 180 to 200 torch bearers; and her Majesty, with several other members of the royal family, viewed the scene with evident pleasure and satisfaction.

Her Majesty - whose health is now so much improved that she was able to drive out and witness the junction of the two miniature armies to the west of the Castle - came back to the Castle at walking pace, and remained for fully an hour an interested spectator of the proceedings. After the torchbearers had promenaded for some time, the torches were heaped in a pile on the roadway a little to the west, and in full view from the windows of the Castle. Empty boxes and other material were soon added, and in a short time a splendid bonfire blazed famously, a gentle breeze helping to fan the flames. Her Majesty, the Prince and Princess Louis, the Princess Beatrice and the ladies and gentlemen of the suite then retired indoors, and took up positions at the windows to see the rest of the merrymaking.

Dancing was begun with great vigour round the bonfire to the strains of Mr. Ross's bagpipes, and refreshments were served to all and sundry by Mr Collins, sergeant-footman. The demonstration culminated in a vehicle containing a well got-up effigy of the Hallowe'en witch being drawn to the fire by a band of sturdy Highlanders. The "witch" had a number of boys for a guard of honour, headed by the piper, and in the rear came Mr. Cowley, her Majesty's jäger, whose workmanship the effigy was. The boys, who each carried a blazing torch, set up a ringing cheer, and at a given signal Mr. Cowley and a ghillie pitched the effigy into the flames amid tremendous cheering, the royal party from the windows having a good view of the "wrinkled hag o' wicked fame."




The fire was kept up for a long time with fresh fuel, and when all had danced till "they could almost dance no longer," the health of her Majesty was proposed by Mr. Cowley, and responded to with the utmost enthusiasm, accompanied by three times three rounds of vociferous cheering. Later on in the evening the servants and the others about the Castle enjoyed a dance in the ghillie hall. The ball broke up at an early hour on Wednesday morning. 
Dundee Advertiser


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Anyway, this post is already way longer than I intended, so I'll leave you with another poem, this one from way back in 1780....it's in Scots dialect, so guid luck wi' understanding it!  Again, I stole this from my brother's Facebook post, so no idea where he dug it up from...but enjoy!

Hallowe'en

OF a' the festivals we hear,
Frae Handsel-Monday till New Year,
There's few in Scotland held mair dear
For mirth, I ween,
Or yet can boast o' better cheer,
Than Hallowe'en.
Langsyne indeed, as now in climes
Where priests for siller pardon crimes,
The kintry 'round in Popish rhymes
Did pray and graen;
But customs vary wi' the times
At Hallowe'en.
Ranged round a bleezing ingleside,
Where nowther cauld nor hunger bide,
The farmer's house, wi' secret pride,
Will a' convene;
For that day's wark is thrawn aside
At Hallowe'en.
Placed at their head the gudewife sits,
And deals round apples, pears, and nits;
Syne tells her guests, how, at sic bits
Where she has been,
Bogle's ha'e gart folk tyne their wits
At Hallowe'en.
Grieved, she recounts how, by mischance,
Puir pussy's forced a' night to prance
Wi' fairies, wha in thousands dance
Upon the green,
Or sail wi' witches over to France
At Hallowe'en.
Syne, issued frae the gardy-chair,
For that's the seat of empire there,
To co'er the table wi' what's rare,
Commands are gi'en;
That a' fu' daintily may fare
At Hallowe'en.
And when they've toomed ilk heapit plate,
And a' things are laid out o' gate,
To ken their matrimonial mate,
The youngsters keen
Search a' the dark decrees o' fate
At Hallowe'en.
A' things prepared in order due,
Gosh guide's! what fearfu' pranks ensue!
Some i' the kiln-pat thraw a clew,
At whilk, bedene,
Their sweethearts by the far end pu'
At Hallowe'en.
Ithers, wi' some uncanny gift,
In an auld barn a riddle lift,
Where, thrice pretending corn to sift,
Wi' charms between,
Their joe appears, as white as drift,
At Hallowe'en.
But 'twere a langsome tale to tell
The gates o' ilka charm and spell.
Ance, gaen to saw hampseed himsel,
Puir Jock Maclean,
Plump in a filthy peat-pot fell
At Hallowe'en.
Half filled wi' fear, and droukit weel,
He frae the mire dught hardly speel;
But frae that time the silly chiel
Did never grien
To cast his cantrips wi' the Deil
At Hallowe'en.
O Scotland! famed for scenes like this,
That thy sons walk where wisdom is,
Till death in everlasting bliss
Shall steek their e'en,
Will ever be the constant wish of
Jockie Mein.

(Hallowe'en by John Mayne, 1780)







Sunday, 29 October 2017

Peter Lorre Haunts My Youtube!



Bah! Have just discovered/remembered that on Halloween, I'll actually be busy at my college course and won't get back until 10.30pm!! This has upset plans I had both for the blog and for celebrating my favourite festival outside in the 'real world'!

I should still be able to do most of what I had planned for the blog, but it means a lot of extra work in the next couple of days, so we'll see how I go with that! In the meantime, here's a few radio shows, a documentary and snippets of a certain Mr. Lorre, another horror star who enters my thoughts every year at this time......





















If I don't manage to get as much stuff as I want up on the blog by Tuesday, there's always the other blogs taking part in the Countdown To Halloween to visit! Just click the Pumpkin below and you'll be whisked by some sort of witchity-magic to the Countdown page, where you'll find a list of all the participants!










Saturday, 28 October 2017

Spook Sightings Of Yester Year No.5 - Strange Light On The Hill





(From the pages of the Christmas Number Of The Illustrated Sporting And Dramatic News, December 6, 1890)


THE STRANGE LIGHT ON THE HILL

by T.D.Croft

"How far to the ponies, Sandy?" said I. 
And Sandy, performing the last rites over the dead stag, answered with true Scotch caution, "It will no be less than seven miles, whatever." 

The pursuit had been a long one. The October sun had been high in the heavens when, just before noon, our glasses first showed us the seven brown specks which were the harem and the harem's lord.   From the very first they had been uneasy, and always on the move, as if some suspicion of danger kept stirring them on. We had climbed the Blue Rocks-- the very highest bit of the forest-- to try and cut them off, and on reaching the summit, breathless and exhausted, found them still in front.   We had wriggled for an hour through a black bog, till our garments were the colour of peat hags;  we had washed them in a burn, where we had to lie for five-and-twenty minutes, because the deer had couched them for a siesta in the heather;  and at last, just as the sun sank behind Ben Derig and the light began fast to fail, I had had my shot, and the hinds paused in their gallop to look back and see their master dead before his foes.  




A good stag he was, ten points and full 16st weight, and the brawling and wriggling, the climbing and the drenching, were all forgotten in the triumph of success. But the toil was not over yet. Layer on layer the night came on," and by the time we had covered our victim with heather, to be brought home by the deer ponies next day, darkness was upon us, and we could hardly see five yards before our faces. It is no pleasant thing to have to cross a rough forest in the dark, now tripping over a rock, now stumbling into a burn, now clinging to the long grasses that fringe a precipice, and now racing down a steep descent where loose stones and long heather brought my weary feet to grief again and again. 

Sandy and old John the gillie were most kind and considerate. To them this was only part of an ordinary day's work, and they kept slackening their pace that I might keep up with them, and uttering an occasional word of encouragement. Mr. C____ would be feeling very anxious now if he had not killed a big stag," said Sandy, helping me to rise after my fifth fall in as many minutes. It is a bad thing to go home after a vain shot."

Ghillie Willie Duff & Grandson 1850


 And Sandy was quite right. It makes a great difference what answer one has to give to the question of "What sport?" as one enters the lodge, and I was hugging to myself the thought that a certain Miss Bright- eyes would be very pleased and sympathetic, and insist on having all particulars of my success before saying "good night." But yet - oh, for a gleam of moonshine to show one where to tread!   There was none. Only one or two stars, whose twinkle made all around only appear more dark and black. 

It seemed to me that we had walked a dozen miles at least, when, at last, I found the way becoming smoother, and knew that we had reached a long flat bit, the last of the high ground from which we should go by a zig-zag path - thoughtfully cut by my host in bygone years - down the side of the steep mountain, at the foot of which the ponies waited for us. Sandy came to my side instead of walking in front, and began to tell me a long story to cheer me up. It was about a pedlar, who was murdered and thrown into a loch we were passing. What on earth the pedlar was doing there, and why he was murdered, I couldn't quite make out. It was not for the sake of his pack, for that was thrown into the loch with him and floated therein till "the people aboot suspicioned there was something no richt." 

Again I was puzzled to know what "people" could ever have been "aboot" that desolate spot, where I should have imagined that only the eagle, deer, and ptarmigan could have taken the remotest interest in the floating pack. However, they - I mean the "people aboot" -  succeeded in catching the murderer, and condemned him to a most extraordinary death.   They stripped him, tied his hands and feet - and left him for a couple of days and a night to the midges! After this he died-- and justice was satisfied. Sandy was careful to explain that this happened some hundred and fifty years ago, but he said it was quite true. 

Anyhow it was a cheering tale, and helped me to forget the length of the walk. At last, we reached the top of the mountain, and to my great delight I found myself in the zig-zag path, where all was plain sailing. The path was very narrow, just cut for one, and we went down in single file, John first, then Sandy, myself third. We had only gone a few yards, when John uttered a startling exclamation in Gaelic, echoed by Sandy, and I saw far down below a bright light flash for a second and disappear. 

"Hullo, Sandy, what's that?"
 "Indeed, I am no very sure," was the answer. 
I didn't think over much about it at the moment, but when we had gone a few yards down, again came the twofold expression of Gaelic surprise, and again the light flashed and was gone. John dropped back closer to Sandy, Sandy came back towards me. 
"What is that light?" I asked. 
We were walking very slowly now, and both my leaders halted, while Sandy answered - 
"Indeed, Mr. C____  I have never yet seen anything like that licht." 
"No, sir," added John, "it is no very canny." 




On we went very slowly. Again the exclamation, again the light!  A happy thought struck me. 
"I know," I said ;  "it is Donald with the ponies.   He has come up the hill a little way so that I may ride, and he is lighting his pipe." 
"Donald could no tak' the pownies there," said John. 
And Sandy added, "It is no man that is making that licht." 

I confess to feeling a little jumpy. When two men, whose whole lives have been passed on the mountain side, who know the forest in ever'y hour and every mood -  when these men tell you that a flashing light you cannot understand is not the work of man, it is enough to make you feel ill at ease, to say the least of it. 
We were getting nearer, and the light flashed on from time to time. The men kept very close together now, and occasionally whispered or muttered to each other in Gaelic. I could see that they were fairly scared.  At last they halted. 

"If I was alone," said John, "I would never pass that. I would just sleep here on the hill." 
Sandy agreed with him altogether. 
"Oh, nonsense," I said, "we must go on. It can't hurt us, any way!" 
And on we trudged. Again the flash, and then for the first time I noticed that they saw it before I did. I began to understand the mystery. 
"Stop directly you see that again," said I. 
John stopped after a minute, and then we all halted and looked. The light stood still and did not disappear. It had only seemed to flash and go out because we only saw it at a particular bend of the zig-zag. 
"Out with your glass, Sandy. What is it like?"
 "It is like a star," said he, looking through his telescope. 
"Quite so; and now look up." 
Above us, the only planet to be seen, shone Jupiter, and now the murder was out. At every bend of the jratli we had caught the bright reflection of the star in a little pool of water far below us, and our moving on had made it disappear. 

It seems strange indeed that the two experienced stalkers should have been so utterly puzzled. I can only say that I have told the story exactly as it happened that October night, and that the relief of the men when they saw the explanation of the mystery was something remarkable. They strode on laughing and joking, so fast that I could hardly keep up with them, and in another half-hour we were mounted and galloping along the path through the valley, trusting our necks to the surefooted hill ponies. 

Five miles along the riverside, and then before us twinkled the lights of the lodge, and we were home. Miss Brighteyes was as pleased as I had hoped she would be, and after she had gone to bed it was long past midnight-- and I was reviving myself with collops and champagne, I told my host the story of the strange light. He was much interested, and told me that many years ago, in another forest, he and his stalker had seem something like it, and had been puzzled, but only for a minute. I think I may add that neither he nor I ever laughed at John and Sandy, or chaffed them in any way about the mystery. They are grand fellows, these stalkers, perfect gentlemen in their way, and will work till they drop to save you trouble or show your sport. What, matter, then, if they like to believe in "bogle" and "kelpie," or if they are always ready to class anything they can't quite understand as being "no very canny"?

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


So that post was a bit different in that the strangeness was eventually easily explained away, but I thought I would post it anyway as it's still a nice spooky story and is a good warning that a lot of things seen on on cold dark nights might not always be supernatural...

Having said that, there are definitely experiences that defy immediate explanation, and I've had many such experiences myself.....which will be the topic of the last of my Spook Sightings post, which you can probably expect to appear on Halloween itself! 




Friday, 27 October 2017

Spooktakular British Comic Strips!




I thought I'd put up some spooky British comic strips for a change today instead of the usual 50s horror comics, and as luck would have it, I just happened to find a Halloween issue of Buster comic from 29th of October 1996 that was filled with horror-themed hoots!




Here's the best of the bunch, followed by some of the strips I had already lined up from a few other old comics... enjoy! :) 















(These next three are from a Buster Holiday Special from 1997)




(And these last two are a couple of Creepy Comix strips from Whizzer & Chips, dated 10/10/87 & 24/10/87)



If you fancy more from the scrungey-schoolboy Faceache, there's a collection of his stories out soon....Faceache - The First 100 Scrunges....which you can pre-order at Forbidden Planet!


And you can find Tom Thug & Vampire Brats artist Lew Stringer right here on Blogger, talking about comics and occasionally putting some original artwork up for sale on Ebay, so go check out his blog too!

(Lew Stringer's Shop page can be got to by clicking here!)


Not long till Halloween now is it!? I'll be back tomorrow with some more old newspaper spook-sighting experiences so you know what to look out for over the next few days when the ghosties get restless! See you then, stuffers!