Tuesday 10 June 2014

A time to CELEBRATE Fairy Tales & Hell Hounds!


So last week Richard Dawkins, managed to upset almost everyone I know by doing a talk at the Cheltenham Science fair where he allegedly (and now stringently denies) said that ‘fairy tales are harmful to children’. What Mr Dawkins exactly said or implied make little difference the real thing of note to me was the masses of people jumping in to defend the centuries old tales. What more of testament and validation can fairy tales have? The sheer quantity of people who came forward to defend them proved that Fairy Tales are love adored by millions of people. Millions of sane people, who know that they are factious, yet are happy to defend them against any slander.

Maria Warner defends fairy tales, equating them to Wonder Tales, that promote thought experiments read more press here:

Of head over to the BBC News for a interesting debate with many professors who discuss the merits of all things Once upon a time, press here.

Then Philippa Francis talks about the love of fairy tales over on her blog in way of celebration and support to visit press here.

All in all whether Richard Dawkins intended to or not, he unleashed a wide spread debate about fair tales, and a mass declaration of love for them. This I think should be celebrated!


Hell Hounds, and my most favourite of the un-dead critters, there’s something rather wonderful about the Jungian primeval fear that wolves evoke in human kind, whether they are actual wolves, werewolves or dog-headed-people but Hell Hounds are the Daddy of wolf like critters.

Hell hounds, seem to be less unitised in fiction though, after racking my brain the only one I can think of is Miss Lupescu in Neil Gaiman’s, The Graveyard Book. But Hell Hound stories are plentiful and far stranger than fiction in history. One of the most fascinating is that of Thiess who in his werewolf trial in 1692 Livonian, admitted to being a werewolf, who descended into Hell to take back and release God’s Harvest that had been stolen by Saturn’s sorcerer Skeistan. Theiss’s own evidence that he was detested by the Devil, and that he was working with his fellow brotherhood of werewolves on god missions was enough to secure the old man life. to read more about Thiess, and translations of the trial read, Witches Werewolves and Fairies by Claude Lecoutex.

Large black wolves with burning fire-like eyes, pop up all over Europe in the Middle Ages, one of the most famous being The Beast of Gavaudin, who In the summer of 1764 terrorized the region in France slaughtering many people. After many attempts to kill or capture the beast, on orders from the King Louis XV a troop of his cavalry was sent to help with the mission. Eventually in June 1767 on a hunt involving 300 men the beast was shot. The body was displayed in the Versailles and was described as being; the size of a donkey and wolf-like, with ears that looked like pointed horns, long fangs it’s paws were larger than a man’s head and it eyes glowed red. Eventually the beast corpse was buried and lost. In fact all of the bodies of these immense creatures have been lost and so their existence relegated to myth. To find out more about The Beast of Gavaudin read Werewolves by Nigel Suckling.

The UK also had its share of Hell Hounds, including one that in a storm on 4th August, 1577 at the Holy Trinity Church, Blythburgh, broke in to the church and killed a man and boy before fleeing into the night. Now this is why I’m celebrating the Hell Hound, because every other Hell Hound corpse has been lost, all evidence of the huge creatures gone EXCEPT that archaeologist working in Suffolk have found the skeleton of a huge dog that on its hind legs would have been 7 foot long, and would have weighed over 200 pounds! The dog’s remains were found in a shallow grave close to The Holy Trinity Church in Blythburgh and date from about the same time. To find out more visit and see photo’s of the skeleton visit the Ancient Origins site press here.

So, although I never want to meet a living Hell Hound in the flesh, the fact that there existence is proven and they can be restored for myth, is in my view a cause for celebration.

Friday 6 June 2014

My Two Months in a World Without the Web.

The world is getting smaller, people say, you can talk to someone the other side of the globe, even see them via Facetime. The world is getting faster, people say, no waiting for the post to deliver important letter or documents, no having to pace up and down next to the fax machine as it painfully prints the message. Unlike a hundred years ago when phones weren’t commonplace, and you had to send a post card to invite someone over for afternoon tea, or order bread from the bakers (they had up to four postal deliveries back then), now you simply pick up the phone, wherever you are. Unless that is you live where I live.

The past ten months have been rather hectic in the Poyton household, we’ve relocated from Oxfordshire to Buckinghamshire, which has meant new everything; school, clubs, doctors, dentist, opticians, everything. My husband has changed jobs. We’ve moved three times, in addition to moving out of our original house. Which has all been A-MAD, B- Creatively Stifling, C-Exhausting. But ultimately the right thing for the family. But one thing I hadn't been until April, was stressed.

In April we moved to a lovely house where we will stay for the foreseeable future (thankfully), but it seems to be in part of Buckinghamshire which is the equivalent to the DARK AGES when it comes to communication infrastructure. With No Mobile Phone Signal. No Internet, and most of the time NO PHONE LINE.

The lack of communication infrastructure was stressful. Despite people helpfully suggesting that I view it as a retreat and I should get loads of writing done. The problem is our lovely house is in the middle of nowhere, it’s a half an hour walk to any other village with amenities. 

But stressful it is: What if there was an emergency? How would I contact the emergency services?

One day my son was ill at school, but because I was at home and un-contactable, they had to call his granny. What if my mum had been out?

I applied for a job (first one in near on 15 years) and got an interview (yeah!!!), but how was I going to get the feedback or message with no e-mail? (I didn't get the job, but better luck next time).

I volunteer for a number of societies, which are voluntary run with volunteers from all across the uk and is entirely run over the web and via social networking groups. I could NOT be an active member, and I was stressed that people would think I was shirking. Let alone about getting behind on my responsibilities.

I’m on submission – really, I’m sure I don’t need to say any more about that.

Then there’s the simple house keeping things, how to change address? Check bank balance? Pay bills when all our accounts are online.

But you may say easy fix, go to a café, drink coffee, eat cake, use the wi-fi. AH, not as easy as you think. My e-mail isn’t web-based. So my lovely husband managed to rig a kind of patchwork e-mail system up so my e-mails were visible on line and off I trotted. This was especially imperative I got the e-mails as I had a very important time sensitive one to send.

Try one: Sunday: Coffee shop – Wi-fi Down.

Try Two: Wednesday: John Lewis: Everyone gets internet access but me! The lovely internal support man came and tried to help only to discover that my (relatively new high-spec laptop) has a fault driver that stopped me connecting to the Wi-Fi, and needed re-installing. Guess what to re-install it, it needs to connect to the internet!

Try Three: With my hubby gone away on a business trip taking my laptop with him to try and re-install the drivers, I was left with an i-pad. So off I trot to town with the, i-pad to try and send the e-mail. This isn’t great as the i-pad’s autocorrect is not very dyslexia friendly, and tends to make my writing less coherent, but needs must. So in town, and EVERY café or establishment with Wi-Fi, was either closed or the Wi-Fi was not working. Eventually we find the Library has functioning wi-fi, and after being set up, I log on to find, my husband has changed the password to the e-mail and not told me! He is also contactable. 

This was just one of the many stressful and eventful experiences I had in my two months being dis-connected. Far from making my life simpler and more relaxed, having no internet in a world that evolved to it presence is stressful, and makes it difficult to function. We are now connected, and I’m working to catch up, and unwind. And so you may see some more posts from me now I have the means to post them!