How a Dead Man’s Hand Inspired Me!

Published July 11, 2012 by loonyliterature

“It doesn’t frighten me in this room.”  Bongo stands in front of the full blown photograph of Boris Death, the horror movie star, on the wall.  The room gives me the willies, but it’s private.  Bongo bends over to peer into the glass case which holds The Hand of Glory and stares at it.

It stinks!” He starts coughing as if he is going to vomit.

I remind him that it is a three hundred year old hand.

(page 34 – Will Blyton and The Stinking Shadow.)

 

When Bongo is overcome by the smell of the hand, the fictional character is actually reliving something which happened to me, which subsequently ends up in the book.

About six years ago, we decided to have a trip to Whitby, home of Saint Hilda’s Abbey and part inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  If you have never visited Whitby, it is an enchanting fishing village with a maze of alleyways and an atmosphere of ‘something is about to happen.’  Go at Hallowe’en weekend and you will think you have been transported onto a Gothic film set.  I will say no more on that point, as I believe, everyone should discover this event for themselves.

St Mary’s Church Graveyard – Oh those steps!

We decided to visit The Whitby Museum.  It is a most interesting place with wonderful curiosities to inspire any writer.  These include: a hangman’s locket; clogs worn by a school truant and spurs used in cock fights. 

Hangman’s Locket at Whitby Museum.

As we approached a large glass case, I became overpowered by the sweetest odour I have ever smelled.  It was a mixture of overwhelming sweetness mixed with the smell of musty furniture.  I thought I was going to be sick.  We peered into the glass case and saw a mummified, shrivelled hand. 

The Whitby Museum states:

“The mummified severed  human hand in Whitby Museum was discovered in the early twentieth century hidden on the wall of a thatched cottage in Castleton by a stonemason and local historian, Joseph Ford. He immediately identified it from popular stories of such objects as a “Hand of Glory”. It was given to Whitby Museum in 1935 and is the only alleged Hand known to survive.

There is interesting folklore behind the Hand of Glory.  Apparently, a Hand of Glory is supposed to be cut off a felon who is still hanging from the gallows and then the hand is pickled.  Somehow, this is supposed to give the hand magical properties.  Thieves would use the hands to help them do their jobs in that, if they entered a house with the hand, all the occupants would go into a deep sleep resembling a coma and be unable to awake until the burglars leave.  There are different versions of this story and can be found on The Whitby Museum website.

If the Hand of Glory had been lit, the householders would fall into a coma like sleep – Whitby Museum.

There were three other people with me in the museum and the smell came at varying degrees to us all – I was the only one who felt overpowered by it.  The only other time I have smelled a similar smell was in a holiday farmhouse we rented in France in the master bedroom.  The sickly sweet odour seemed to emerge from a locked cupboard in the bedroom.  We were supposed to stay there three weeks.  We left after a week of strange and unexplained happenings.  I will say no more – for now.

 

Ravensmite – bird or boy?

Published June 29, 2012 by loonyliterature

Ravensmite changed from a bird into a ghoulish looking boy before my eyes.

I rush to the window.   Ravensmite lands on the branch of a tree and caws loudly.   It is a full moon.  The outline of the large bird is easy to see.  Suddenly, its gimlet eyes spot something and it swoops.  It is the decayed corpse of a rabbit.  The huge hooked beak tears at the tendrils of flesh and maggots.  It gorges hungrily, the head shifting into a teenage boy wolfing at the feast of death upon the ground.   He licks the ground clean of blood and maggots.   After a final sniff around, it shifts fully back into a powerful, glistening raven again.

I took the light of the torch off the bird quickly as I could not believe what I was seeing.

How To Get Rid Of A Stinking Shadow!

Published June 25, 2012 by loonyliterature

“If you are staying Thadeus, you have to go through a rigorous bathroom etiquette as laid down by the law of The Thunderous Mother,”

“If you are staying Thadeus, you have to go through a rigorous bathroom etiquette as laid down by the law of The Thunderous Mother.”

Thadeus sits up excitedly.

“What is that master Will?”

“Oh you will enjoy it.”  I have my fingers crossed behind my back.  “Every modern day boy is absolutely mad for the rigorous bathroom etiquette.”  I suck my cheeks in to control myself.

“Wait here a minute.”

Thadeus smiles gladly.

“You are the best master ever.”

A glimmer of shame starts to creep up on me but then I think of the wind and the spit.  Being with Thadeus is like being thrown into gross weather conditions whilst indoors.

I nip into the bathroom, put the plug in the bath and turn the taps on.  Whilst the water runs, I peruse the torture chamber which is called the bathroom cabinet.   I look for a weapon, spy something which will be just right and then reach out for the antique tongue scraper.

Three years ago, The Thunderous Mother warned Dad that his breath was worse than all Bongo’s dogs combined.  Dad took the huff and bought the said tongue scraper from the antique shop.  He used it once, which is what Dad does with everything and then it got left in the cabinet.  It will do.

Next is a pumice stone which The Thunderous Mother bought Dad for his birthday.  Pumice stone, is a grey stone used to scrape the decaying feet of adults.

Finally, I seize upon a tub which has a picture of a face covered in mud.  The Thunderous Mother said that the face mask would make her look like a teenager.  She thought that the longer she left it on, the younger she would look.  It was not a happy moment when Dad had to use a chisel to remove it. 

The bath is ready.  The room is full of steam and I rub my hands together.  There is only one thing better than plotting on the bed and that is putting the plan into action.

Time Travelling Heroes – The Doctor from Doctor Who (part two)

Published June 13, 2012 by loonyliterature
Cover of "Doctor Who and the Monster of P...

Cover of Doctor Who and the Monster of Peladon

If you remember from last time, Hamnet (the Tudor boy trapped in the stone) is trying to get me back in time.  To be able to improve in our time travelling techniques, we are watching Doctor Who to pick up tips.  Last time, we had gone forward one week to April 1974.  Hamnet was insufferable.  He bragged on and on about what a time travelling magician he was – then it happened and to be honest the insult maker was lost for words.  I exaggerate; he was lost for words for a short time.

I am having problems here deciding whether to give you the news or not.  The genius inside me says that I should so that you will have something to look forward to.  Firstly, Doctor Who does not end when “The Monster of Peladon” finishes.  Hamnet took us forward in time to see “Planet of Spiders”.  It was whilst watching the last episode of “Planet of Spiders” on June 8th, 1974 that Hamnet got the shock of his life.

This image is a promotional picture from Docto...

This image is a promotional picture from Doctor Who Magazine, intended for use in the article “Sarah Jane Smith” to visually aid and provide critical commentary in describing the subject of the article. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I expect you are wondering what happened on June 8th 1974 to shock Hamnet so much.  We saw The Doctor die.  He had been fatally affected by Metebelis Crystals.  Hamnet was in such a state.  He had thought The Doctor could teach him to get back to his own time.  He was sitting there sobbing in his stone prison whilst Sarah Jane Smith sobbed on the television;  then something else happened.  I had heard about this happening before but as I had not seen it myself, I didn’t want to give Hamnet false hopes.  It is called Regeneration.  Hamnet and I watched as The Doctor changed into what looked like another person.  It was still The Doctor but he looked totally different.  Hamnet now believes that The Doctor is a far more powerful magician than Corpsehound.  He is sure that if he watches The Doctor for long enough, he will discover all his secrets. Hamnet is positive that by learning from The Doctor, he will be able to fight Master Corpsehound and release himself from the stone.  Only time will tell.  Meanwhile, if anyone knows how to improve Hamnet’s time travelling skills into the past please comment at willblyton.com

The Fourth Doctor's impractically long scarf b...

The Fourth Doctor’s impractically long scarf became an iconic image of the character. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time Travelling Heroes – The Doctor from Doctor Who (part one)

Published June 5, 2012 by loonyliterature
Robert the Bruce

Robert the Bruce (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Will Blyton and The Stinking Shadow, I tried to get Hamnet, the Tudor boy magician  who is trapped in the stone, to send me back to the 14th century, so that I could get Robert the Bruce to teach me how to be a warrior.  It turned out that Hamnet sometimes gets things wrong and instead brought a 14th century monk to me.  After getting me into all sorts of trouble we did manage to send the monk back in time.  Yes, we really do dabble in time travel.

English Heritage plaque for inventor of time t...

English Heritage plaque for inventor of time travel (Photo credit: jaywood_uk)

Anyway, moving on – as you know, I have waves of genius.  It occurred to me that if Hamnet watched Doctor Who on the television – it might give him some time travel ideas.  So I introduced Hamnet to my time travelling hero – The Doctor.   I love watching Doctor Who but was not sure how an insulting Tudor boy would take to it.  He watched The Monster of Peladon.  Now here is the shock.  The shock is not that Hamnet loved it; the shock is that he loved it so much, it improved his magic spells and he took us into the future.  The only reason he took us into the future was that he wanted to see what happened in The Monster of Peladon.  I don’t know about you but if he can take me forward one week in 1974, surely he must be able to go back in time. 

I questioned Hamnet about this and he thinks that he will have to focus on going forward in time for the moment.  He is obsessed with finding out what happens to The Doctor.  It is 1974 and I have no idea how long Doctor Who runs on the television.  It is great for Hamnet because it is making him focus on his time travelling skills.  My worry is that The Doctor never has another adventure after The Monster of Peladon.  Who knows what the future holds for The Doctor in 1974 and beyond?

Detective Heroes – Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple.

Published May 25, 2012 by loonyliterature
Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes a detective hero takes a life of its own.  For instance, Agatha Christie created Miss Marple who is an elderly spinster who lives in St Mary Mead.  Miss Marple has been read worldwide and the books are definitely a good read.  However, sometimes, something weird and wonderful takes place when an actor takes on the part of a detective.  This happened for me when four Miss Marple films were made starring the indomitable Margaret Rutherford.  For me, Margaret Rutherford is Miss Marple.

What have I learned as a detective through watching Miss Marple?  One of the first lessons she taught me is – do not be afraid of being a complete and utter nosy parker.  In other words, eavesdropping is a valuable source of information.  Of course, I would never dream of eavesdropping on your ordinary type of person – but if someone is a suspect, that is a different thing all together.

Margaret Rutherford

Margaret Rutherford (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If budding detectives want to learn how to go under cover, watch all the Miss Marple films starring Margaret Rutherford.  She often pretends to be what she is not.  As kids, it is difficult to do this sometimes as we can’t really apply for jobs in places where crimes might have taken place.  Although, the better you get at disguising yourself, the more likely you are to be believed.

Marple, as she appeared in volume 20 of Case C...

Marple, as she appeared in volume 20 of Case Closed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well budding detectives, you are probably asking what have kid detectives got in common with Miss Marple.  It is simple, people think because Miss Marple is an old lady, that she is stupid and so they say things they shouldn’t say in front of her.  People also do that with kids.  The more I think about it, like Miss Marple, we have more chance of solving crime than adults because criminals become careless in front of us.

English: Agatha Christie's signature

English: Agatha Christie’s signature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have to go, Hamnet is shouting insults at me from the stone.  He wants some company, I think.

Detective Heroes – Tintin

Published May 17, 2012 by loonyliterature
Tintin (character)

Tintin (character) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tintin is a teenage boy who is also a journalist.  He is my hero because he constantly fights evil, that is my foremost reason for having Tintin high upon my list of detective heroes.  However, there is something important about a Tintin book which must not be overlooked when you are a boy detective yourself.  When boy detectives are on a case, they can sometimes find their heads are on the point of exploding – we become suspicious of everyone and as the plot thickens, it can seem as if there is no way out of the mess.

Budding detectives, this is a number one detecting tip for the exploding brain.  Get yourself a bag of Bull’s Eyes and a Tintin book and focus on enjoying yourself.  This tricks your brain in getting order in the mess you are detecting.  Tintin books work particularly well because the drawing is superb, your eyeballs are so busy taking in its splendour that you forget about your brain pain.  As you rush from situation to situation with Tintin, you are transported, for the time being you are Tintin.

Reading a Tintin book also has other beneficial uses.  It is easy as a boy detective to feel that you are rubbish at your job – life can get you down.  We all have weeks when we watch the man across the road, Theophile Twitcher and have him down as a dangerous criminal, later to  find out that he is simply an overenthusiastic birdwatcher.  It happens and we feel like someone has splattered a custard pie in our faces.  At moments like that, I would recommend, budding detectives, that you pick up a Tintin comic book and read it.  Thompson and Thompson are the worst detectives in the world.  They aren’t simply suspicious like us, oh no – they want to arrest the wrong person constantly.

I always think it is important that budding detectives become top notch at being in disguise.  It is not easy.  In fact, it can be quite off putting when you are dressed as an old tramp and The Thunderous Mother passes and says “Hello Will” to you.  However, we can be certain of one thing – we will never be as bad as Thompson and Thompson at disguises.  They might as well wear huge signs over the tops of the heads shouting “DETECTIVES IN VERY BAD DISGUISES.”  So budding detectives, if everyone recognises you in your latest disguise – read a Tintin book – you will feel much better.

%d bloggers like this: