Ars Memoriae

I know this system best via Giordano Bruno (burned at the stake 1600) and Dame Frances Yates.

This is an ancient “art” with several methods of use.

My favourite is the method of loci or Architectural Memory.

It’s not so hard. We do it all the time – especially in a supermarket. Until they move stuff around the aisles and shelves. Harumph!

Today it’s not so well-known. Especially when we bring in melted buildings and mud flood and DEWS and Giant Elites with tiny servants and bedsits and tower blocks and ….!

I’d bet that most of the population only know anything about this via the TV series Sherlock.

Old World vs New World :o)

Why The DA VINCI Code?

There are many answers to this question but I’ll stick with the one.

Around 1994 Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince wrote a book together called Turin Shroud: In Whose Image? the Truth Behind the Centuries-Long Conspiracy of Silence.

Whilst I disagree with their conclusions, they made a revelation that is pertinent to today’s researching of AltHist. The subject?


To quote Picknett and Prince :

On a side note and meaning nothing – Lynn Picknett has been a Facebook friend of mine for years. She has even answered some of my annoying questions :o)

Dorothy Dunnett & Johnson Johnson

DD wrote more than the Lymond Chronicles and The House of Niccolo.

She also wrote a series of books featuring Johnson Johnson and his boat Dolly.

Each book was titled Dolly and….

We know very little about JJ. He has a boat called Dolly. He turns up in all parts of the world. He solves stuff.

Remember – these books were written in the times, 60’s/70’s, when Dolly Bird meant a dim and ditzy girl who needed a MAN (even if he wore thick bi-focals) to HELP HER.

These days an original DOLLY BIRD book is out of my pay grade. I have a few.

I have this one.

Dolly and The Singing Bird.

P.S. Can you see the influence of one of Dorothy and her her husband’s closest friends……Ian Fleming here?

When Reading Something In a BOOK becomes an INSULT

I will NEVER win any awards for literature, or interior design or photography.

These pictures are of ONE single room in my house.

About half of my books.

And when you consider that most of these books have bibliographies several pages long………!!!

They have taught me much.

Opened my mind.

What happened to the Three R’s?

When did being able to read stop being a symbol of advanced humanity?

This is a working library. I move through it like a whirlwind when researching.

But that makes a dumb person today. When you have the entire internet at your finger tips and a tiny little machine.

Side Note : Books don’t change their printed words over the years. FACT!

Parker Pyne Investigates : Are You Happy?

I’ve left this alone for so long because to me Agatha was always Poirot or Miss Marple.

I reluctantly read Tommy and Tuppence – and quite enjoyed.

I’d never heard of The Mysterious Mr Quin and when found – he and Mr Satterthwaite became firm faves.

Agatha used her knowledge of the Commedia dell’arte to full here. Harley Quin – the sprite?

Enter Mr J. Parker Pyne.

He’s spent his working life in an office doing statistics.

Not the best blurb for a book cover.

BUT…..I’m really enjoying the 12 stories now. Read by Hugh Fraser aka Captain Hastings of the most relaxing voice ever :o)

Coryat’s Crudities

Well, now. Who’d’ve thought that research done over 20 years ago would come back to me right now?

Historical Fiction writers are unashamed plagiarist’s. They (or maybe just me!!) love to use personal accounts of the time like letters, memoires, diaries and travelogues.

I’d used Coryat’s travel impressions several times. Along with his patterns of speech and vocabulary.

For some unknown reason he is embedded in this new line of research. Not only via his timeline, his journeys, his patron… but also his closest friends.

The Game’s Afoot as Henry V said long before Sherlock Holmes :o)

Thoda Bweath aka Soda Bread

I’ve been promising for days now and finally got round to making it today.

I have Paul Hollywood’s book and love it.

Today we doubled all the ingredients to make a HUGE loaf.

Thoda Bweath?

Youngest and I couldn’t wait to taste so we ate some – straight out of the oven.

Ouch. Burn. Stupids :o)

P.S. I use semi-skilled milk (yup!) with a splash/dash of lemon juice to sour it….much like buttermilk.

P.P.S. The Irish say that you cut the cross in the top to bless it and prick all four quarters to let the fairies out. How wonderfully Christian/Pagan !

How To Build a Wonderful Story

The video below talks about a quite well-known piece of history.

My fave author (right now) took this and wrote an incredible tale called Night After Night.

Yup. Talked about it before but somethings never get old.

KP was 36 when she died. After giving birth to a daughter by her 4th (?) husband Thomas Seymour.

KP was the “survived” of the divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived wives of Henry VIII.

Her body was said to have been – urm – interfered with after it was disinterred.

Princess Diana, the late Princess of Wales and NOT our Queen Consort now, died at 36.

Trinity Ansell (fictional) died at 36.

Trinity was haunted by the ghost of KP.

One of the Big Other contestants was haunted by the ghost of Diana.

Another of the Big Other contestants had just turned 36.

Read the book.


Vladimir Propp

I bought this book decades ago. A 1975 secondhand version for about a £1.

It’s served me well :o)

A first reading when right over my head, even though I knew about Grave’s White Goddess and Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey.

It’s worth all the brain-ache …in my humble opinion. Especially if you are a writer studying your art and your craft.

Mean Spirit

This is the follow up to Cold Calling which I finished about 2 weeks ago. Third time listening.

Who is stalking Seffi Callard, the world’s most fashionable celebrity medium, now a paranoid recluse at her father’s home in the Costwolds? Her old mentor, Marcus Bacton, editor of an ailing journal of the paranormal, sends his assistant, Grayle Underhill to find out – unaware that he’s thrusting them both into a nightmare… and the attentions of a vicious career-criminal for whom getting rich is less important than never getting dead.

I’m two weeks into listening to this at night. Yup. It takes me forever because I’m so knackered at the end of the day. And next night have to go back at least 10 chapters.

Mine own humble review of Mean Spirit :

The team from Cold Calling (minus Glaswegian Gobby Nursing Sister Andy Anderson – middle aged woman) is back together.

Grayle Underhill, the New York journalist, has decided to stay in St. Mary’s. Close to Marcus Bacton whose magazine The Phenomenologist is sinking fast and Grayle is helping to revive it as The Voice.

The gorgeous and cool Persephone Callard, of a black, late mother and a living upper-class white Sirship father, is a famous medium who has known Marcus since she was a child, attending the school where he once taught.

Cindy Mars-Lewis, South Wales Shaman and Cross-Dresser with his totem bird/puppet Kelvin Kite, is now on TV twice a week hosting The National Lottery.

The late, but revived by Sister Anderson policeman, Bobby Maiden is in line for promotion to Detective Chief Constable. Bobby had a very negative NDE (me too) and is still very wary of anything beyond the 3D.

Bring all these together with a famous TV hypnotist, a bloke who makes the Kray Brothers look like Nuns, an extremely bent high-ranking policeman forced (!) into retirement by Bobby and a huge “haunted house” once owned by a seriously deranged Victorian Spiritualist and things go somewhat awry.

Cindy is slammed by the public for taking the piss out of lottery winners who buy Barrett homes and BMW’s and “suddenly” all die. Marcus has a heart-attack. Grayle takes on a pseudonym after thinking that she’s killed a man and Seffi (Persephone) is haunted by a stinking, scarred, dead gangster who was once the best friend of reformed and now TV famous London Gangster.

I’m NOT a fan of Seffi. For me, she stands out as a cold and calculating madam who uses Marcus, Cindy, Grayle and Bobby without conscience or regret. All of whom then find themselves facing death by trying to help her.

Even the ending, and what happens to Seffi does not warm her one little bit.

We have no video for this post. All I can come up with is the one below.


Marcus Bacton is a short-tempered, foul-mouthed, but strangely loveable character who calls EVERYONE – apart from Persephone – by their last name.

Underhill. Maiden. Lewis. Anderson. Everyone else is just BASTARD :o)

A REAL Person. An AMAZING Person

I’m in contact with one of my favourite authors right now.

I sent an email and got a beautiful response the next day.

To me, this is how REAL people communicate.

No bans. No humiliations. No silent punishment for crimes supposedly done.

A true and equal sharing of views.

yt has a lot to learn.

BTW : I’ve just earned myself 2 more bans from “troother” channels.

YAY :o)

The subject of our ongoing connection?

C.S. Lewis.

And by default – Tolkien and the other Inklings.

Meanwhile, back in LalaLand – the moon and fake news are still the topic of the hour.

BTW : In the video above, he mentions G.K. Chesterton. Whom I know from the Father Brown Mysteries. But G.K. also wrote about Eugenics and Other Evils. This amazon blurb is quite poignant, yes?

Written in the beginning of the 20th century, before the WW I, when this theme was the “topic of the hour”, eugenics is the study of methods of improving genetic qualities by selective breeding. Exerpts: “The wisest thing in the world is to cry out before you are hurt. It is no good to cry out after you are hurt; especially after you are mortally hurt. People talk about the impatience of the populace; but sound historians know that most tyrannies have been possible because men moved too late. It is often essential to resist a tyranny before it exists. It is no answer to say, with a distant optimism, that the scheme is only in the air. A blow from a hatchet can only be parried while it is in the air.” “The point here is that a new school believes Eugenics against Ethics. And it is proved by one familiar fact: that the heroisms of history are actually the crimes of Eugenics. The Eugenists’ books and articles are full of suggestions that non-eugenic unions should and may come to be regarded as we regard sins; that we should really feel that marrying an invalid is a kind of cruelty to children. But history is full of the praises of people who have held sacred such ties to invalids.” “A silent anarchy is eating out our society.” “Now this is the first weakness in the case of the Eugenists: that they cannot define who is to control whom; they cannot say by what authority they do these things.”


I’ve been invalided by eu-genics-tube :o)

My copy of this book is falling apart at the seams.

To Sleep No More

Dinah Lampitt became a friend of mine. She even did my horoscope reading for free. She is a Virgo and I’m Virgo Rising and complained online about how I get very organised each year around September.

I’ve read all her books – including this one.

England at the time of Edward III — a time when marriageable daughters were welcome currency in the plans of ambitious men.

In the Sussex village of Mayfield, the young and beautiful Oriel de Sharndene has been forced into marriage with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s brother though she loves a handsome Gascon squire.

Yet all is not as it seems, for these are three people who have not only met in another life but are fated to meet again and again.

From medieval England to the witch hunts of the seventeenth century and the smuggling and highwaymen of the eighteenth, TO SLEEP NO MORE is an unforgettable tale of three characters whose souls can not rest until their final destiny has been resolved.


What is it with people today who will not let the dead sleep?

Are the they the modern Resurrection Men?

Oooh. That’s very effed up and creepy.

BTW : Despite what FEB and his mates have taught y’all. The iron grills around graves were not ANTIQUITECH. They were there to stop grave robbers. And called MORTSAFE.


Elephant’s Breath & London Smoke

I spent over an hour in my local fabric shop with a new friend called Lulu.

Long story – a new 1800’s gown in the prep stage. Colour chosen (finally) deep wine red cotton.

Anyhoo and by the by. Through a different source I was recommended a book to read called Elephant’s Breath and London Smoke.

I knew immediately that this was about colour. My youngest and I painted his bedroom Elephant’s Breath.

WAY back in 2009 I wrote a post about 17th century fabric colours.

17th Century Textile Colours

One of my first ever research projects was on 17th century costume.
I got a beautiful old, old costume book from the library and much to my disgust – I can’t remember the name of it.

Anyway – from that book I made a note of the names used for textile colours in that era.
They are so evocative and always set the imagination running.

















And colours to try and get our minds around.

I’ll have a go…

I love the idea of SICK SPANIARD – a yellowy olive.


TEMPS PERDU- I see this as a pale violet.

ANGRY MONKEY- Is red brown too obvious?

APE’S LAUGH- Again, a reddy colour. But only if they were always being pedantic

RESURRECTION – Oh Gawd! A blue-grey????

KISS ME DARLING – Pale pink, maybe.

MORAL SIN – Love this. A deep, vibrant, singing red.

TRISTAMI – Sorry, can only think of pepparami here. Oops.

SCRATCH FACE – Purpley (if there’s such a word)

SMOKED OX HAM COLOUR – Pinky, purpley (if it’s not a word, it should be!)


CHIMNEY SWEEP – Too obvious????

FADING FLOWER – Mmmn. Pastel. Maybe like ashes of roses.

DYING MONKEY – Black, brown….ish

MERRY WIDOW – Deep Purple – nearly black but not quite.


This new recommendation looks wonderful.

Have you ever read about a Victorian dress, and wondered: “What color, exactly, is heliotrope?”Did you ever read an Elizabethan novel and say: “Did anyone really wear Puke?”When Chaucer wrote: “his eyen bright citrin” – did you wonder about what color is citrin?This book will tell you about color in history – the names of colors, when they were used, how they were used, what they looked like, and where they came from. There are dye recipes, paint ingredients, poetic language and general commentary – all in the words of period writers. Along with the glossary of color names, you will learn about mourning colors, the effects of artificial light on color, advice on what colors to wear, the colors found in cosmetics and theatrical make-up, and the names of the colors of horses. You can read about symbolism in colors, heraldic colors, and complaints about the names of colors. I have studied fashion magazines, books of dye recipes, art books, painter’s manuals, mineralogy guides, tomes on color theory, metaphysical texts, poetry and fiction, but especially period dictionaries and encyclopedias. Any resource that might give a hint on what a color looked like or how it may have been used was examined, from Chaucer to Chemistry Journals. Most of the entries were printed in English, American, Canadian and Australian publications from around 1380 to 1922. Because, French was the language of fashion, many of the English terms are French words. I have tried to explain those colors, too.This dictionary endeavors to define color names in the words of the English speaking people who used those colors. It is especially aimed at women’s fashion, but artists will also find it useful. Now in its second edition, “Elephant’s Breath and London Smoke” has more than 600 new and updated entries. If you are curious about color, you will want this book.

BTW. It’s coloUr. Too many letters in the word ? ? ?

The Cult of Mithras

I’m an Historian. I learned about the MSHist of this decades ago.
Recent stuff has interfered with my sleep ( makes me antsy?!) and this is about the 3rd week listening to Phil Rickman’s Merrily book The Secrets of Pain.


Because it’s slightly painful and NOT relaxing.

He goes deep, deep, deep into Mithraism as practised by the “Romans” and connects the whole myth with the SAS. Mithras was the SOLDIER’S GOD. And blood was his everything

The murderee is called Mansell BULL who is slaughtered in his own farmyard and the murderer is seen running away, covered in blood

He has a brother called Solus Bull who is tupping D.I Frannie Bliss’s estranged wife and is a popular media hero.

I call BULL shit on this Blood CULT :o)

Secrets of Pain vs Richard Dawkins

I’ve done my best to promote Phil Rickman’s Merrily books.

They are long and convoluted and revolve around a mother who is an Anglican Vicar and a daughter who is Pagan and their lives together in a village called Ledwardine.

Sounds boring? Nah. Rickman is one of the best “character” writers I’ve ever come across.

So many stand outs. Lucy Devenish dies very early in the series but she’s always there.

Gomer Parry – Plant Hire. Gomer is over 80 years old and will do all and anything to protect young Jane.

Lol )Laurence Robinson( one of Jane’s best friends, a shy and haunted folk singer/song writer who becomes Merrily’s lover and greatest love. And who now lives in the late Lucy Devenish’s cottage.

Barry – ex-SAS who is Landlord of the Swan pub and key player in this story about retired SAS soldiers.

And the wonderful DI Franny Bliss. Liverpudlian, lapsed Catholic incomer to the West Mercia Police Force.

I’m on my third go around with Secrets of Pain. Shit. How did I miss so much on the other two reads? ? ?

Merrily is having nightmares about Richard Dawkins. Even she thinks that she’s wasting her time propping up an archaic institution that is now more political than Christian.

BTW – Merrily is a Deliverance Minister aka Exorcist for the Diocese of Hereford. She KNOWS that there are more things in Heaven and on Earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy, Horatio.

I may not be a Churchian or a Bible-tarian. But I have a deep and unmoving faith in the knowledge that WE are not the be all and end all of everything.

I don’t do “science” either. As my exams results say :o)

P.S. The audiobook has music. Lol singing the songs he’s written………!


That’s what my Nan used to call the radio. But then she was born in 1911 or thereabouts. She was in her 30’s when my mother was born.

Wireless. Wi-fi. Ether messages. Inexplicable. Antiquitech. OR TELEPATHY?

Hamlet got it right when he said ….

“And therefore as a stranger give it welcome. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

We seem to’ve lost that wonder of the awesome, innate, magical side of life. We seem to’ve lost FAITH.

How? Why? When? Where? Who? What?

I’m tele-pathetic-ally connected to an ego so big that he’ll NEVER admit to the magical, strange etc above his gi-effin’-nor-mous EGO.

Shrug. So be it.

Wealthy Mrs. Harter has a heart condition. Her nephew, Charles, who lives with her, buys her a radio for amusement, but strange messages come from it. Could her dead husband really be sending her messages? And why is he warning that her life is in danger?

F1RST story here. I prefer Christopher Lee reading it but – m’eh.

 “To Harlequin the invisible”

Another day of boring chores but my mind has been elsewhere.

In audiobooks and the gold I’ve found therein.

I’m such a lover of Agatha Christie stories but my knowledge has proved to be extremely limited. Do you all know about Mr. Quin and Mr Satterthwaite?

Apparently they were two of Agatha’s fave characters…and she even dedicated her book of short stories – The Mysterious Mr Quin – as shown in the title above.

I’m on only my second story with these two and a thought just struck me. POW!

Harley Quin (Mr Quin) IS the aged Mr Satterthwaite’s subconscious mind.

Harlequin the Invisible appears and disappears at strange times in the old man’s life. And propels Satterthwaite in deep and mysterious adventures.

I’ve not watched the video below yet.

I don’t want any spoilers :o)

Devil’s Breath aka Hyocine

Can’t remember the yt name – youtube free audiobooks or somesuch.

I’m on day three.

About 15 hours of Agatha and a ton of short stories that I’ve never known about before.

Listerdale Mystery, Midwinter Murders.

I’m hooked :o)

Philomel Cottage got me today. Sheesh. It’s a kind of silly story but strangely fas-kin-ating.

Hyocine. I can’t even pretend to understand the video below. I failed chemistry. We were too interested in what a bunsen burner could do and breathing in the asbestos mats underneath them. Aha. That explains too much about my mental health (!)

Philomel Cottage is all about The Power of Suggestion

Three Blind Mice

I usually love the quiet.

But today I had something to do that was complicated and not much looked forward to so I put on a yt free audiobook in the background to keep me going.

Midwinter Murder by Agatha Christie.

It’s a series of short stories. Some I know and some I’ve never heard of. The First Story – Three Blind Mice – was totally new. And thoroughly gripping.

Deep mid-winter. A newly married couple who knew little about each other (but it was just after WW2 and so many were damaged by what they’d experienced.)

Molly and Giles are given a gift via a relative of Molly’s. A manor house. They decide to sell it and then (after a few real life realisations) decide to keep it. Victorian furniture and all and set up a Guest House. Charging 7 guineas a week. Meanwhile – in London – there has been the strange and mysterious murder of a woman.

Molly and Giles have no idea what they are doing and accept a few bookings, even though the area is in the grip of 5ft snow drifts and they are almost out of coke to fire the central heating.

Enter a cast of strange characters.

I was entranced….until the end.

If you know Agatha’s work and I say – Poirot’s Christmas, The Mouse Trap, a touch of Endless Night, Greenshaws Folly – you’ll understand the feeling of OK. Whatever.

But I’d still recommend :o)

On to the second story. Oh. I know that one. On to the third story.

And Then There Were None : A Follow Up of 12 Angry Men

This is beyond PC but I respect her for it.

I took this book out of Amesbury Library in the early 90’s and read it….The Original Title.

Only Owen Benjamin (White American Male) is allowed to unashamedly say that word out loud today.

My childhood dog – a black Labrador was called the Blankety Blank N-word.

This is such a powerful book. But read an original edition for the full meaning.


BTW – I don’t see skin colour. I just see good people and bad people. FACT!

The Alexiad of Anna Comnena

Reading this played a huge part in my research for Ravens of Dinefwr.


Because Robert Curthouse, the older brother of Henry, and Duke of Normandy went on the very First Crusade in 1096 and one of my major fictional characters had gone with him.

I just needed a good background about travelling half way across the world on horseback to fight the peeps who supposedly killed Christ about 1,000 years earlier.

Or so they say!

N.C.’s new book starts with….

Chapter 1.

Anna Komnena in her famous “Alexiad”, it turns out, twice tells about the largest religious event of the XII century – the new dogma of Andronicus-Christ. The commentators of the “Alexiad” did not notice this, since Anna calls Christ here either Vasily Bogomil, or John Ital

1. Anna Komnena – a famous Byzantine author allegedly of the XII century. She wrote the fundamental work “Alexiad” about the life of her father, Emperor Alexei I Komnenos.

2. But “Alexiad” by Anna Komnina has come down to us in the later processing of the editors of the XVI-XVII centuries

3. Two famous and large-scale religious “heresies” of Vasily Bogomil (Cathars) and John Ital in the history of Europe and Byzantium in the 11th and 12th centuries are reflections of the teachings of Andronicus-Christ, that is, Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky from the 12th century.


Mirages of Europe : New N.C. Book

Yay. I’ve been waiting for this new book from New Chronology.

Hopefully it’ll be available in English soon.

The authors have processed important blocks in the history of Europe and Byzantium in the 11th-17th centuries. The famous Byzantine figures – Vasily Bogomil and John Ital – turn out to be vivid reflections of the emperor Andronicus-Christ, that is, Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky from the 12th century. For example, the famous gospel story is clarified: why two “thieves” were crucified next to Christ on Golgotha. It turns out that the Prudent Thief symbolizes the disciples of Christ, who continued to honor Him after the judgment. And the Mad Thief is the image of the disciples who refused Christ. Records of the trial of Christ discovered. The story of the famous Jeanne d’Arc and the French King Charles VI is a phantom reflection of the biographies of Empress Elena Voloshanka (Esther) and Tsar Ivan the Terrible (Artaxerxes). The biographies of the English kings Henry VI and Richard III (including those in Shakespeare’s tragedies) are based on the “Roman biographies” of Khan Ivan the Terrible and Khan Boris Godunov. The famous English war of the Scarlet and White Roses is a western reflection of the war of the Oprichnina and the Zemshchina in Russia-Horde in the second half of the 16th century.

I’ve posted about Andronicus & Charles VI & Jehanne d’Arc & Henry IV and & Richard III & Shakespeare & Elena & The Wars of the Roses soooooo many times. And also the Bogomils via the Cathars.

Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York.

Oooh. I did that off the top of my head. All this Shakespeare stuff is sticking to my little brain cell – LOL.

I’ll leave the possible shape of our world and NelsonMadelaEffect and the never-ending cry of ALL HISTORY IS A LIE to the masses of masses who are “woke.”


Black Beauty

OMG…I bawled my eyes out reading Black Beauty as a kid. It was one of my Mum’s childhood books -lodged in the back bedroom at Nan’s house.

I was never around horses as a child. Though I longed to be. To this day they frighten the bejeebus outta me… even though I’ve taken riding lessons and horse-trekked the mountains of Andalusia.

High Rise Horse Stables, anyone?

Or 1850 reset?

Aldous Huxley

I know Aldous mainly through his book about François Leclerc du Tremblay  aka Père Joseph.

He was Cardinal Richelieu’s closest friend and advisor. A Capuchin monk who counselled the Cardinal through many a Dark Night of the Soul.

A Brave New World…I’ve read but remember nothing about it. Maybe because I learned about the DRUG abuse before reading the book. Maybe.

Don’t shame/blame. I have at least 1 or 2 thousand books in my house. Like I’m expected to remember a lifetime of words ? ? ?

For The Hell of IT or Fever of the World

There are around 11 days until the next Merrily Watkins book is released for sale.

I’m hoping that the audio comes out the same day. Fingers crossed.

It’s kind of strange that all of last year the reviews for this book mentioned “the fever of the world” aka panicdemic.

Today – 22 May 2022 – not a single review says a single world about the past two years of stupidity.

Go figure.

Rickman does real and legend and fact and myth and fiction so bloody well.

This next book – FEVER OF THE WORLD has the poet William Wordsworth as a sinew that holds and connects.

I wandered lonely as a cloud…..

I learned that poem at school aged 10. Something about daffodils? Long time passing.

‘I called on darkness … midnight darkness …’ At the end of the 18th century, the poet William Wordsworth rambled, in a strange visionary haze, from Salisbury Plain up into the Wye Valley. The epic walk changed his life. More than 200 years later, Oxford student David Vaynor followed the same secluded route and still can’t explain what happened to him there. Now he’s back, as a police detective investigating a suspicious death, and finds that, in this place of cliffs and chasms, it’s far from easy to escape the past. Meanwhile, Merrily Watkins, diocesan exorcist for Hereford, is being warned that in-depth investigation is not part of her job – a job she may not be holding down for very long. She’ll be risking her future to help Vaynor uncover the secrets carried through a haunted landscape by Britain’s most revered river. For behind the scenic beauty are elements that, as Wordsworth wrote, ‘promote ill purposes and flatter foul desires.’

“Last Night I Dreamt I Went to Manderley Again.” 

Rebecca begins, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Every novelist since has ground their teeth in envy: here is all the enchantment of a child’s story, with an irresistible melancholy hung about it. The narrator is on a winding path alone, and her way is barred. The dreamer is the second Mrs de Winter (we never know her name), and Manderley has been to her both a heaven and a hell.

Employed as companion to the wealthy vulgarian Mrs van Hopper, she meets Maxim de Winter in a Monte Carlo hotel. He owns the famous Manderley, and is perfectly calibrated to the needs of an ardent virgin: he is sardonic, sophisticated, occasionally morose; he is Mr Rochester at the wheel of a motor car. Reader, she marries him. In due course she is conveyed to Manderley through rhododendrons blooming “slaughterous red, luscious and fantastic” and is greeted by the black-clad housekeeper Mrs Danvers, her “skull’s face, parchment-white, set on a skeleton’s frame”.


In my mind, Mrs Danvers is a PERFECT example of a gaslighter.

I love this book. It resonates. It SCREAMS that age-old vibe of second best. The intruder. The unwanted. The un-needed. The Copycat.

The anonymous narrator would NEVER be good enough for Mrs. Danvers.

Ergo : Mrs Danvers destroyed the “replacement Rebecca’s” life.

Always the 3

Of all the scenes in Bram Stoker’s book (and there are many that freak me out….Renfield?)

The THREE Weird Sisters (get it?got it?good!) that Harker meets on his exploration of the castle is uber creepy.

Why 3? 1 would do. IMHO.

But then Stoker is well-known for picking bits from here and there. Like we all do.

It’s called RESEARCH.

But that scene always reminds me of Macbeth’s Witches.

P.S. Done this before but the BEST audiobook book for this book is narrated by Greg Wise and Saskia Reeves. Just saying :o)

The Romance of The Rose : Brain Killer

Image above of MY IRL bookshelf?

Yes. Not photo-shopped or fake or mandela or…!

This book has killed my brian (!) for years.

It’s dense and tangled and thorny. Fact!

But it is HUGE part of my literature/history/hidden journey.

Allegory can be as confusing as eff.

The Romance of the Rose was written in two stages by two authors. In the first stage of composition, circa 1230, Guillaume de Lorris wrote 4,058 verses describing a courtier’s attempts at wooing his beloved woman. The first part of the poem’s story is set in a walled garden, an example of a locus amoenus, a traditional literary topos in epic poetry and chivalric romance. Forty-five years later, circa 1275, in the second stage of composition, Jean de Meun or Jehan Clopinel wrote 17,724 additional lines, in which he expanded the roles of his predecessor’s allegorical personages, such as Reason and Friend, and added new ones, such as Nature and Genius. They, in encyclopedic breadth, discuss the philosophy of love.

I’m a rose grower. I have about 20 rose bushes in my garden. All but 2 planted by me.

A ROSE by any other name etc…….

Oh. And. DO NOT get onto the book to the left of Romance of the Rose. Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin.

I’m feeling feisty and tigerish today.


Vampires and blood-sucking aside – for me – Renfield is the MOST DISGUSTING character in Bram Stoker’s book Dracula.

Read the book. Or not. I recommend the audiobook narrated by Greg Wise and Saskia Reeves. Effing brilliant.

A description of Renfield from the novel:

R. M. Renfield, aetat 59. Sanguine temperament, great physical strength, morbidly excitable, periods of gloom, ending in some fixed idea which I cannot make out. I presume that the sanguine temperament itself and the disturbing influence end in a mentally-accomplished finish, a possibly dangerous man, probably dangerous if unselfish. In selfish men, caution is as secure an armour for their foes as for themselves. What I think of on this point is, when self is the fixed point the centripetal force is balanced with the centrifugal. When duty, a cause, etc., is the fixed point, the latter force is paramount, and only accident or a series of accidents can balance it. — From Dr. John Seward‘s journal

BTW : I don’t remember watching a single film starring Nick Cage. I’ve never rated him. Just my own personal opinion.

P.S. Mr H has just scrubbed the video I shared earlier about AH and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Mmmmn. OK.

Bugs in the web?

Living Small : The Borrowers

Lordy. Lordy. I’ve not thought about or read this book since I was about 8 years old.

But time and tide will bring all sorts of cast-offs onto the shore.

The Borrowers are tiny peeps who live under the floorboards and “borrow” things. Yuh. D’uh. Obvious, Jackie!

I’ll be beggared living that vibe.

In my head, I AM THE GIANT. Dagnabit – Call off RentaKill. Thanks :o)

When Fiction & Reality Collide


I googled Lol Robinson – Heavy Medication Day.

If you don’t know the books – this is Laurence Robinson’s Redemption song in the Merrily Watkins books.

Lol spent time in a psych ward after being falsely accused of raping an underage girl. His (fictional) song Heavy Medication Day tells of the torment that Dr. Gascoigne put him through with drugs to shut him up.

As the series progresses, bit by bit, we see Lol redeem himself through music and his Boswell (Lute of the Frome) guitar.

With the help of Merrily and Jane and the dead Lucy Devenish – who introduced Jane to Lol and was a mentor to both of them.


Laurence Robinson (fictional) via Phil Rickman (real) sings.

P.S. Hazey Jane was…oh, read or listen to the books. I recommend the Merrily books read by Emma Powell.

Forever Amber

Along with Katherine by Anya Seton, this is another of the books that I nicked from my mother and devoured.

I remember asking her (aged 12) if Amber St. Clare had been a real person. Mum kinda finagled an answer and fled. Which was sweet. She could not explain to me what a WHORE was when I was that young. She saved me the horror!

Who the hecking hell is Amber (I’ve never) Heard (of her before) ? ? ?

24 Hours From Tulsa

May I humbly suggest that y’all read The Five Orange Pips by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ?

I’m an Historian of History.

And a prolific reader.

Please and Thank You.

P.S. A Strange But True FACT – Literature was written by people who actually lived lives in a certain period of time. They wrote about WHAT THEY KNOW. Until SciFi came along…. ?

A James by Any Other Name Can Still Tell a Good Ghost Story

I always think that this is a Monty James book. But it’s another James. Henry. Still Gothic though. And grand.

Why was the turn of the 19th/20th century so full of amazingness in literature and art. When the turn of the 20th/21st century was Y2K and the Millennium Dome and BS?


On Christmas Eve, an unnamed narrator and some of their friends are gathered around a fire. One of them, Douglas, reads a manuscript written by his sister’s late governess. The manuscript tells the story of her hiring by a man who has become responsible for his young niece and nephew following the deaths of their parents. He lives mainly in London but also has a country house in Bly, Essex. The boy, Miles, is attending a boarding school, while his younger sister, Flora, is living in Bly, where she is cared for by Mrs. Grose, the housekeeper. Flora’s uncle, the governess’s new employer, is uninterested in raising the children and gives her full charge, explicitly stating that she is not to bother him with communications of any sort. The governess travels to Bly and begins her duties.

Noi…I love this accent.

Black Vaughan : aka Hound of the Baskervilles

The Red Book of Hergest – Read it.

Prayer of the Night Shepherd – Read that too.

Hound of the Baskervilles – Ditto.

The people of my country have wild and vivid imaginations. Our folk-lore is rampant and entwined through every tree and blade of grass.

Which Vaughan was Black?

The main candidate is Sir Thomas Vaughan circa 1400. If he actually lived and did what is said, then there were many who didn’t like him. Hence the Legend of Black Vaughan…..the Black Bull/Fly/Dog of ancient times.


Are we in Wales or England with this? Mmmn. Probably right on the Border Marches where “the veil” is thin and many a ghosty and ghouly roams.

Spooky whooooooh!

Vita Griffini Filii Conani

Way back in history – which, in my mind, is before the stupid panic-demic… times decades, I read this book from start to finish. It formed a strand of my Hidden History of the British Isles 11 part series of articles from 2019.

All those Brutus’sss’sss (Bruti) and Stray Arrows.

OMG. So many peeps begat peeps begat more peeps in Wales. I even watched a very long public argument via an academic website of 2 professors of history, both experts in 11th/12th century historical stuff, slug it out over several years via their published papers.

The Irishman trashed the Englishwoman. The Englishwoman trashed the Irishman. IN PRINT.

I have my own thoughts about this King of Gwynedd. Father of Gwenllian ferch (daughter of) Gruffydd ap Cynan and father-in-law of Gruffydd ap (son of) Rhys Tewdwr. And grand-father of The Lord Rhys.

P.S. This is not for those possessed of a 2 second attention span :o)