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English Eerie

A coughing spluttering night...when we went on Safari, I had a snuffle, quickly vanquished by dust and some anti-biotics. Now it seems to be back.

The magical essense of honeymoon has soaked up into ordinary life, and the results are good - revitalised, I have done some needed and exacting work. The safari has me enchanted, hypnotised almost, but I can think about writing and new stories.

I need to go to this:
http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/events_calendar/event_detail.aspx?eventId=3173&title=Otherworldly:%20a%20special%20event%20for%20Halloween&eventType=Special%20event

As a writer, I've got an interest in the genre people are now calling, 'Engish Eerie,' stories based around something strange beneath the bucolic beauties of the English countryside - and perhaps the English psyche itself. Saki stories like Gabriel Ernest, Sredni Vashtar, the Peace of Mowsle Barton etc, as well as short stories by M.R. James and others touch strongly upon this feeling. I think short stories find it easier to maintain the atmosphere, but certainly Garner's novels often start with it and develop into fantasy. As films, Penda's Fen and The Wicker Man are two obvious examples, though the latter is based in Scotland, so we would have to rename the genre...The thing about Scotland is that we expect it to be wild and strange. England is a gentle calm place, its countryside sweet and harmless.

And there's something slightly wrong with it, like a cup of tea that's got just a bit too much sugar. It might taste nice, but you come away from it with your teeth on edge, wondering why you don't feel quite right. You wander down a country lane, and there's maybe a village cross at the end of it, covered in the names of the local lads who died in two world wars. The hedgerows and fields are increasingly empty.  Intensive farming means there is death everywhere, barns filled with animals waiting for slaughter.Rare birds killed, wildlife destroyed... And yet you're safe on the lane. Nothing is going to go wrong, the post office is there,the pub is there,everything is safe, because everything is empty. And as long as you are empty, you are safe too. England's real cattle are her people, fed rubbish, kept relatively safe, used til they drop.

There is, I believe, some kind of heartfelt connection between people and their environment. One forms and then becomes the echo of the other. The landscape's dearth of wildlife creates a kind of blank slate in people's heads. You go out into the Botswana bush, you need to be aware; life is everywhere, and life is dangerous. Increasingly the English landscape is a sort of pleasant numbness of the senses. Because there's no life, there's little evidence of death,and both become a form of fiction or entertainment, our lives lightened by a box of talking stories. Increasingly the land is an idyll of nothingness, and death is a matter of profit until we face it ourselves. The death that's considered preferable is one stuffed with drugs and surrounded by family watching and weeping  in a hospice/old people's home. For Christ's sake, I don't want that. Let me be on Safari one last time, or on the sea or watching a sunset. Let me be alive while I am alive.

I am very up for rewilding Britain. Yes it would be more dangerous, though that's not why farmers object to it. It would be better, I think, not only for the environment and the creatures we eat, but for us. We are sleepwalkers, shuffling  against a painted backdrop, and the edgy realisation of this is what fuels 'English Eerie'. We call out and nothing replies, even when we think there should, there must, be something there. Such a landscape makes  for atmospheric stories...and nothing else.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
nyarbaggytep
Sep. 3rd, 2016 12:59 pm (UTC)
Loving reading this, yes, this, all of this.
nyarbaggytep
Sep. 3rd, 2016 12:59 pm (UTC)
Incidentally, you might find Nick Totton's book - Wild Therapy interesting.
smokingboot
Sep. 5th, 2016 08:33 am (UTC)
Thank you, I am really glad you enjoyed it. Googled Wild Therapy, and am definitely looking into it, sounds fascinating.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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