Tuesday, 8 June 2010

In which I relay some information concerning a scheme entitled 'Booked Up'

Very well then. I have now had permission to pass on the news relayed to me by Mr Priestley a few days ago. In fact Mr Priestley called me this morning saying that he hoped I was joking when I said that I might forget to mention it. His voice rising to a harsh falsetto, he implored me to see how important it was for the book and for the Uncle Montague 'brand'. The Uncle Montague brand? How dare he! I am not a 'brand'!

But, fearing for the brittleness of his mental state, I will do as he bids.

It seems that there is a scheme called, for reasons best known to the organisers, 'Booked Up'. It is a philanthropic enterprise that provides every child who begins secondary school with a book, chosen from a set list. The list for the books being provided this coming September includes Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror.

Despite my contribution to the book being scandalously suppressed, it is hard not to take some pride in seeing my name included there. I certainly do take a great deal of pleasure in the thought that these macabre tales will disturb the sleep of yet more children.

A great deal of pleasure indeed. . .

Sunday, 6 June 2010

A photograph of old Turkey

I came across this photograph the other day. I took it myself on a visit I made to the south-east of Turkey many, many, many, many, many years ago. It shows the distinctive beehive-shaped, or bosom-roofed if you will, dwellings in the small, sun-baked town of Harran.

Some of you may recognise the name from the story called Jinn in Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror. It is an extraordinary place in an extraordinary setting. It is truly ancient, mentioned in the Old Testament.

Of course for me - and for you, if you have read the story - it will always now be associated with that ragged girl and young Francis Weybridge. Any fascination with its history will now be laced with dread. Those shadows to the left of the photograph will seem dangerously dark.

Of course I knew Francis' father, the celebrated travel writer and artist, Arthur Weybridge. I own several pieces of his work in fact, including a drawing of Harran itself. I rather think he was happy to be rid of it following the tragedy that occurred there.

But there I go again. Mr Priestley is forever warning me against what he will insist on calling 'spoilers'.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Mr Priestley 'pops in'

Franz and I had just settled down to enjoy an elderflower cordial today, when who should arrive at our gate but Mr Priestley. Our attempt to hide was sadly mistimed.

Mr Priestley had just returned from a family holiday in Wales, a remote and mountainous area attached to the western coast of Shropshire. He said that they were just passing and thought that they would 'pop in'. But when I asked why his family had not joined us in the garden, he replied that they were overtired and were keen to get home. Franz told me later that he distinctly saw Mrs Priestley lock the car doors when Mr Priestley got out. Mr Priestley's son appeared to have his eyes tightly shut.

I had the distinct impression that there must be an ulterior motive for this visit and so it transpired. After a tedious description of the delights of a place supposedly called Portmeirion, Mr Priestley let slip a piece of news concerning Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror. He was clearly very excited about it, and I would pass it on to you now were it not for the fact that he made me promise to remain silent for the next few days until it is formally announced. Then he returned to his car and left at high speed. Franz and I returned to our cordial.

I made that promise and I am a man of my word. I shall say nothing for the moment. I may even forget to mention it at all.