Just arrived – Cumbrian Ghost Stories!

CumbrianGS

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Just arrived – Cambridgeshire Ghost Stories!

CambridgeshireGS

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Just arrived – Oxfordshire Ghost Stories!

OxfordshireGS

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Just arrived – Scottish Ghost Stories!

ScottishGS

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‘The Devil’s Steps’ by Dan Berry – very funny cartoon based on local Hallowe’en folklore

Enjoy it here: http://www.thingsbydan.co.uk/2013/10/the-devils-steps/

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The Stuffed Men by Anthony Rud – hard-boiled high strangeness

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I’ve just finished reading a truly bizarre book, one that is almost legendary. It’s The Stuffed Men by Anthony Rud. Other than this strange byway of hard-boiled detective fiction, Rud’s only other claim to fame is that his short story Ooze, about a monstrous killer amoeba, was the cover story of the first ever edition of Weird Tales back in 1923. The Stuffed Men was published in 1935 and also features a malevolent micro-organism, a fungus (which Rud also confusingly refers to as a plant). The novel boasts an extraordinary plot involving a Chinese Tong organisation busy smashing up priceless pieces of Ming pottery and murdering anyone who gets in their way. Their favoured form of execution is to expose their victims to a fungal spore which rapidly grows inside the body, suffocating them and leaving behind grotesquely ‘stuffed’ corpses.

A few of the chapter titles will give you some idea of both the high strangeness and the pulp style: ‘The Mystery of the Burial Urns’, ‘The Saffron Horror’, ‘The Fungus Vat’, ‘The Noseless Horrors’, ‘The Red-Hot Rat’ and ‘Prisoner of the Wart’. Alas, the writing is pretty awful, an uncomfortable mix of pulp bashing-it-out and wannabe literary stylings. Worse still, it’s stuffed with casual racism, with numerous references to ‘Chinks’ or ‘Chinkies’ as well as ‘Japs’ and even one ‘probably part nigger’. 

Despite these unpleasant elements, The Stuffed Men eventually won me over for its sheer bravura and extraordinary imagination. To be fair, even if the science is poor, the plot does all make sense by the end. It was certainly a reading experience well out of the ordinary and a box ticked – I’ve always wanted to read this book ever since I first heard mention of it. It’s long been out of print and I shouldn’t think it sold many at the time, so I was chuffed to pick up a copy for just £6 (although admittedly without the stylish dust-jacket illustrated here).

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Uncanny UK is A-OK again

Thanks to my developer Emma the malicious bit of code that got into the http://www.uncannyuk.com website has been sorted so if you were one of those who had trouble viewing the site, you will now have no problems. This means you can read the latest article, which is all about female phantoms in some of London’s most interesting haunted pubs.

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Uncanny UK has been hacked!

Apologies to anyone who has tried to visit Uncanny UK recently and found themselves unable to view the site. We’re not quite sure what’s going on but it looks like it might have been hacked by some Wonga-type outfit. Hopefully normal service will be resumed ASAP.

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Fantastic collection of illustration

Just discovered the entire online catalogue of the sale of Michael Winner’s collection of children’s illustration, sold at Sotheby’s in December last year. Oh, how I would have loved to have owned his Tiggers Don’t Climb Trees.
http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2012/the-art-of-illustration-l12409/lot.1.html

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Got the proof

Just about to start work on proofing my next four regional ghost guides. These are for Cumbria, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire and the whole of Scotland (I’d argued for Lowlands and Highlands & Islands but the publishers didn’t think they could afford the distribution that far north). Lots to keep me busy, anyway.

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