Tuesday, 29 May 2012


In a northern town, famous for witches and whale-backed hills, there were,
at the time of this story, fourteen pubs in the main street. At least two of them
were haunted. The Dog Inn, at the top of town, had a grey lady.

She sometimes showed up in the bar and scared guests who’d hired a room for the night.

The Bull Inn had a severed hand that crawled across the bar after closing time. 

People in the town spread this rumour so often that the truth of the matter
became absorbed into the town’s psyche.

I loved the place.

I never saw any ghosts but I did see a giant with a rucksack on his back.
It was dusk and hazy and my friend saw him too.

I haven’t been back in over a quarter of a century. But this evening,
as she draws the curtain on a new moon the notion of truth, substance
in a rumour sinks in, takes hold of the mind like a glass of good ale.


  1. Wonderfully evocative reminder that intuition, superstition, folk knowledge and other similar woolgathering mythological survivals have it all over the contemporary hasty Goliath, Information, when it comes to representing the truth we all suspect may be lurking out there, in the bush, beyond the town.

    (By the by Jonathan, excuse the time it's taken me to remember not to forget to do this simple appropriate thing, but for what it may be worth I'm going to go right now and belatedly put up a link to your fine blog... fingers crossed & Insh'Allah.)

  2. Thank you so much for your kind words Tom.

    Fingers crossed...


  3. Beautiful post. I grew up with lots of ghost stories. My father believed in ghosts but not Jesus or God because as he put it, I only believe what I can see. And he was such a story teller, I could never tell which or what he really thought was so.

    But you saw a giant? I am reminded of Big Fish.

  4. Thank you. I'm not sure either. But yes, we did see a giant. In the shadow of Parlick Fell, where Alice Nutter (apologies for the strange names), one of the Pendle witches had her home. I was fortunate enough to have an unbroken view of the Fell in my formative years. It's marked me forever.

    I did see a ghost once, but that's another story altogether.

    Thanks again for your kind comment.

  5. And now I have overcome the shame in admitting that once, in 1968 or so, in a howling storm, in a small hobbity dwelling upon the ocean cliffs, we were, as the climax of a weird little dinner party, treated to a view of a leather box about the size of the containers once used to hold duelling pistols, in the velvet lining of which was a human hand. Mummified, and wearing a ring. Angelica thinks the ruby mounted in the setting on the ring was a fake. I think she is correct.

    In any case the Pendle witches would have felt right at home, there, then.

    Nutters in the shadows behind every bush in every century.

  6. I love this comment.

    'Nutters in the shadows behind every bush in every century.'What a line!



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