Friday, 18 May 2012

The Stones of Spookiness

 On our way back through Oxfordshire at the weekend, after the Utopia convention, Jeremy, Panda and I stopped at the famous Rollright Stones to have a look. Although I love 'The Children of the Stones' by Trevor Ray and Jeremy Burnham and the splendid David Fisher Doctor Who story, 'The Stones of Blood', I don't think I've ever actually visited a stone circle before.

Panda was delighted because they all turned out to be Panda-sized.

I'm sure there was a bigger set of them somewhere - but time was getting on and we had to head north. Very nice to see, anyhow. Though it would have been nice to find Amelia Rumford and her suspect friend Vivien doing a bit of lurking about. A sausage sandwich and a cup of tea would have been smashing, too.
 Just this week I've been reading Penelope Lively's first two children's books - 'Astercote' and 'The Whispering Knights' - both of which deal with rural menaces and legends that start creeping back to life in the modern age of 1970. 'Astercote' is about an ancient plague village, hidden by woods - and a curse apparently returning to life. 'The Whispering Knights' takes its cue and its title from the ancient site that we didn't get to see on Sunday - and feels wonderfully mysterious and ominous.

On Tuesday evening I was returning to Manchester on the train from London with both these books - having a wonderful time, so that the journey evaporated into the darkness outside. Penelope Lively writes so beautifully and atmospherically. Outside of 'The Ghost of Thomas Kempe', I don't think I've read her before. Now I want to read them all, in order.

14 comments:

  1. I'm glad you like them so much - and you have the same copy of Astercote that I had! Perhaps the *very* one... Isn't it funny how like The Whispering Knights is to The Stones of Blood? Without the spaceship of course.

    Lovely pictures of the stone circle as well.

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  2. I'm still in two mind about the spaceship over the Stones of Blood. I like it all better when it's in Gothic mode.

    I wish we could have spent more time there! Maybe i should make plans to have more trips to sites of ancient pilgrimage and muck about.

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  3. I used to have that edition of Astercote but can't remember much about the book itself. Probably it's still in my parent's loft.

    Stones of Blood is a game of two halves, really. I prefer the Gothic bits myself, but the extreme contrast between the bonkers spaceship and the marauding Ogri is a lot of fun. I have a Cessair of Diplos coaster on my coffee table and I hide it in embarrassed panic whenever there's the slightest chance of Darrol visiting.

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    1. Wait - you can get Stones of Blood coasters?! And why embarrassment..?!

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    2. I picked one up in the gift shop of the Cardiff Doctor Who exhibition a couple of years ago. It was such a random product I couldn't resist, and am hoping there are Shrivenzale, Kroll and Taran Wood Beast coasters out there to complete a set.

      Darrol's... quite a severe chap sometimes. I know he's aware of my fanboy soul, but we do not speak of such things. Ever. I have a strong instinct that we get on better for it. We were flicking through film magazines from the 40s together on the set of Flare Path last year and he was got a little bit nostalgic before sighing and dropping them on the table saying: "It's all fan stuff of course" with a faintly disdainful wave of the hand.

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  4. Wow! how funny! i love fan stuff! and, as Doctor Who fans, we know the impact that fan stuff can have! in doctor who it's *all* fan stuff!

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    1. Different generations I suppose, and I must stress he's an awesome guy. He's been perfectly lovely about my short story collection, but I can just picture the nose wrinkling if he knew about, for example, my novel length account of the Time War...

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    2. Time War, novel, Andrew..? We need to know about this!

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  5. The year was 2005. Everyone was writing fanfiction about the Time War, and it was all very grim and angsty stuff which I felt wasn't quite in the right spirit. So I started writing about Daleks infiltrating the Matrix via the Land of Fiction, a vampire/Time Lord alliance, assassination by tandoori prawn, and about 80,000 other words of lurid nonsense. I still tinker with it to accommodate each new vague detail in the TV show, but the End of Time put several quite large spanners in the works and it's run out of steam a bit.

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    1. Andrew - publish it at once! We need to know about the tandoori prawn!

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  6. Very nice blog, Paul! And you have a treat in store for you with all those Livelys. Her adult books are ace, too, but for YA I recommend THE HOUSE IN NORHAM GARDENS. Excellent writer.

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    1. Thanks, Adele! I found that exact book in paperback during this weekend gone. Thoroughly enjoying 'The whispering Knights' at the moment.

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  7. Synchronicity! I have, as promised, just completed by review at amazon for Hornets' Nest. I hope this link thing works: http://www.amazon.com/review/R1EYKJZINSEX1K
    its too much for a Luddite like me, sometimes.
    Two things I wanted to mention in the review but got excised were the Gothiciness (that is a word in the States or maybe its Gothicity?) of the 4th Doctor and the Time War.
    I was going to say how much it seemed like this version of the 4th Doctor knew something bad was on the horizon. The general sense of foreboding that still could not subdue him. I liked it. Of course, it may just be that obsessive compulsive geek gene kicking in, demanding gaps be filled...
    Nah, it felt like the Doctor knew the Storm was coming. I blame your awesome writing for that, Paul. Well done, again. Time for the next adventure...
    Let me know if that link is troublesome. It looks like trouble to me.

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    1. Thanks for that review! Wonderful stuff. I'm so glad you liked that series of stories. I was very pleased with them.

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