Friday, 26 June 2009

The scrimshaw imp

I had collected scrimshaw work for many years before I ever came across poor Edward Salter's tale. Here are a few examples. These evocative engravings, carved into whale's teeth, once gave me an inordinate amount of pleasure. But I cannot now catch sight of one without immediately bringing to mind that grim story: a story Mr Priestley recounts in Tales of Terror from the Black Ship in a tale entitled The Scrimshaw Imp.

I do not count that sailor's scrimshaw tooth among my cursed possessions. There are some things too deep, even for a collection such as mine. No, that tooth is somewhere in the world. Like the Demon Bench End, it simply moves from host to host. At least you who have read the tales have been forewarned. Avoid these objects at all cost.

Franz says that they often turn up on eBay.

Whatever that is.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

The old inn

This is a rather lovely old postcard of the Old Inn, the ancient tavern that is the setting for Tales of Terror from the Black Ship, Mr Priestley's most recent publication.

I visited this old place some years after this picture was taken - Mr Priestley makes an allusion to it at the end of the book. By that time the old place was vacant and on the verge of being ruinous. The storms in Cornwall are ferocious and the inn was in an exposed position, perched on a precipitous cliff face. It seemed only a matter of time before it tumbled over.

I was taken to see it by an old friend called Hugh who knew of my interest in the strange, in the uncanny. For the inn had a story to it: a story of two children called Ethan and Cathy, of a sailor called Thackeray, and of the legendary Black Ship. This story is bound up within a secret and it would spoil the book to tell you more.

Though, as I said, I was sure the Old Inn would in due course crumble and fall into the waves below, I am told it still stands though shunned and derelict.

I would give you the location, but I think we should leave well alone. Leave it to the birds and bats. Leave it to the beetles. Let it be.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Wedding bells

I am very honoured to be asked to attend the wedding of Miss Helen Szirtes and Mr Rich Horne tomorrow in that fine city, Norwich. Franz will accompany me as always and I can only hope that he does not disgrace himself as he did at the Cholmondeley wedding last year. I never thought to receive another invitation.

Weddings can be tedious affairs of course, though I am sure this one will be the talk of Norfolk society for many weeks to come. I was rather more meaning they can be tedious for children. I have memories myself - distant ones now of course - of such events: insufferably drawn-out affairs involving distant relations. Tight clothes and false smiles.

Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror has story set among the poor victims of such a wedding set in a large house. It is in actual fact young Victoria Harcourt's story as she has just pointed out to me. I am well aware of that, Victoria. There is no need to scream.

In the book, the story is called A Ghost Story. How does Mr Priestley keep coming up with these titles?