Saturday, 28 February 2009

A swift apology to those of a nervous disposition

Franz has pointed out that some people have a phobia about our eight-legged friends. I apologise profusely if I have jarred anybody's nerves.

Friday, 27 February 2009

In which we welcome an arachnid visitor

This fine looking fellow has taken up residence outside my study window. Lovely by day, he is especially handsome at night, illuminated by the glow of candlelight. Almost everything looks better by candlelight - even Franz.

Perhaps not Franz.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Some musings on the vice of botany

Other people's obsessions are always a little mystifying are they not? I understand some people find gardening a relaxing diversion. I have never been tempted by its dubious pleasures. Some, like my young friend Mr Kirkham are even actually employed in this area. Extraordinary.

My old friend Algernon Bentley-Harrison was utterly obsessed by plants. His story is told in the latest of Mr Priestley's books, Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth, published by Bloomsbury this autumn and available from all reputable book mongers.

Algernon travelled the world in search of new plants - as if we did not have enough of the things already. He would disappear for months on end and then return weighed down with specimens. I show a photograph I took on a visit to his house. I was there only a month before the unfortunate incident some of you may recall from the rather sensational coverage in the newspapers.

A rich man, Algernon was happy to spend his entire fortune on this endeavour, constructing a huge glasshouse at his home in which to nurture his precious collection. But of course, this obsession - like so many obsessions - was his ultimate undoing. Take my advice and keep well clear of the vice of botany.

Plants can on occasion bite back.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Lady Clarendon

I happened to be looking for some papers in my study and came across this. I thought I would share it with you as I happened to mention Hawton Mere yesterday. This is a photograph of the late Lady Clarendon standing beside the moat at Hawton Mere.

There is a curious prescience to this image, given what little we know of the events at the house. As well as being at school with Sir Stephen I was also there with Tristan Jerwood who would later become Sir Stephen's lawyer. Knowing my interest in the supernatural, Tristan did share some of his knowledge of what happened there that Christmas; the winter that Michael Vyner came to stay. In fact, I suppose I am now the only person living who knows the truth.

Until Mr Priestley's novel is published of course. . .

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Hawton Mere

I was sitting in my study here at Pity's End, contemplating the futility of existence with a rather fine glass of Amontillado, when my thoughts carried me away to Hawton Mere, a place I have not thought about for many years.

Hawton Mere was an ancient and splendidly grim house in the fen district of East Anglia. It was the family seat of Sir Stephen Clarendon, a school friend of mine. The last time I saw him was at the funeral of his wife, Lady Margaret, whose life had been cut tragically short. A man of fragile sensibilities at the best of times, I am not sure he ever fully recovered from that blow. He was certainly acting rather oddly at the funeral. But grief affects us all in different ways.

Hawton Mere is quite ruinous now, destroyed by fire many years ago and wearing a thick cloak of ivy, the moat clogged with weeds. The events leading up to that fire are to be the subject of a novel, soon to be published I am told, telling the tale from the point of view of Sir Stephen's ward, Michael Vyner.

In which I continue my struggles to master this curious new medium

Ah. I see. Franz informs me that this so-called 'blog' contraption, is a rather more primitive communication system than I had imagined.

It seems that I write something and this is then 'posted' on something called 'the internet'. I then wait and see if someone wishes to respond. If they do, they can leave a 'comment'. I can then respond to them by leaving a comment of my own. And so on.

No, I confess I do not completely follow it myself.

But as Franz has been so insistent that I embark on this endeavor I shall do my best to oblige. It does not pay to upset Franz.

Oh dear me, no.

Being my first attempt at what I believe is known by the younger generation as a 'blog'

Ahoy-hoy! Is there anyone there? Anyone at all? Speak up for goodness sake - I'm an old man.