What Kind of Cthulhu Are You?

For H P Lovecraft, bless his little cotton socks…

Hey, when you lie dreaming in sunken R’lyeh, asleep within the insane cyclopean architecture of your palace, do you ever wonder if you’re really the Cthulhu you wanted to be, all those eons ago?

Well, don’t worry, here’s how to find out through this week’s greydogtales.com test…

octopus-769372_6401. The vibrations of a human submersible are detected close to R’lyeh, intruding on your realm. Do you:

a) Use unspeakable protoplasmic servants to investigate and update you on the level of technology that the humans have achieved, making careful notes on their propulsion and weaponry?
b) Rise in majesty from the depths to tear the thin shell of the submersible asunder?
c) Turn over on your hideously carved obsidian couch and let it go?

2. The fungoid hordes of the Mi-Go have gathered in the void beyond Earth, threatening to come to the planet in large numbers. Do you:

a) Tell the Deep Ones and any other followers of Mother Hydra and Father Dagon that the Mi-Go are delicious, especially fried lightly in butter?
b) Thrash your tendrils violently and threaten the Mi-Go with immediate obliteration if they proceed?
c) Write it off as another boring alien experiment with humanity and brain cases?

3. Some Massachusetts academics complain that your vile emanations are causing their more artistic students to descend into madness. Do you:

a) Suggest that their students apply for Arts Council grants and call their work ‘installations’?
b) Obliterate the entire east coast of America with vast tidal waves?
c) Sink back into slumber and try to emanate less?

4. Human writers are publishing an increasing number of stories about your malign and eldritch reality. Do you:

a) Encourage these amusing fictions in order to disguise your true purpose on Earth?
b) Destroy their puny minds and leave them hollowed-out shells whose eyes reflect only the abyss?
c) Read a couple of their stories and doze off halfway through?

5. Hastur rides the storm above your Dread House at R’lyeh, complaining that he is the true heir of Yog-Sothoth. Do you:

a) Calm him down by pointing out that he has Carcosa to himself, and at least his place isn’t under water and leaking badly?
b) Invoke Azathoth, who blasphemes and bubbles at the centre of infinity, in order that Hastur be rended into vaporous nothing?
c) Write it off as another of Hastur’s tantrums and go back to sleep?

Mostly a)s. You are an imaginative thinker with a good sense of delegation. Well done. You are a CREATIVE CTHULHU.
Mostly b)s. You have spawning issues, and need to look into anger management therapy, as well as counting to ten before you act. You are a DESTRUCTIVE CTHULHU.
Mostly c)s. You may have narcolepsy, vitamin deficiencies or a number of under-active thyroid glands, and should seek medical help. Or, you are just a LAZY CTHULHU.

Longdogs, writing etc. will return next time, honest!

Share this article with friends - or enemies...

One Last Sarabande

And it’s here, the next Tales of the Last Edwardian short story.

More of a ghostly tale this time, and still free to download as a taster of larger works to come.  The fourth will probably be a novella this autumn, unless I do finally find the missing chapters from the middle of A House of Clay, my Abigail and Henry full length occult detective novel! If they’re in the garage, the rats will have had them anyway. I must set Django loose in there.

If you like the story, please review it or make a comment – feedback is always welcome. If you don’t like it, then hide. I’m coming for you…


Share this article with friends - or enemies...

Horror without Wires

Tonight’s lecture is about the radio. Please note that if your radio is telling you not to listen to me, you need to increase your medication. Or do you? The toaster thinks otherwise…

I was raised on BBC radio comedy. Non-Brits may have to be patient for a while. My Great-Aunt Olive lived with us in the late sixties, and the wireless set was on for her all the time, mostly Radio Four – or was it the Home Service back then? Digital radio meant poking your fat boy-child fingers at the tuning dial to try and keep the signal.

Apart from the occasionally interminable cricket matches, I was free to cling to the set and absorb foreign tongues. Received Pronunciation, in other words, or BBC English (my Yorkshire accent still has to struggle to emerge some days).

Some of the shows were awful, and some sound even worse today. The Clitheroe Kid, which I thought hilarious at the age of ten, is painful to revisit. The Navy Lark is idiotic with touches of genuine humour, and The Men from the Ministry is strangely comforting, like an old uncle who drones on repeating himself now and then. Not terribly funny, though.

Round the Horne, on the other hand, was funny, is funny and probably always will be. J Peasemold Gruntfuttock from Round the Horne is immortal. I think I took to a seventies show, The Burkiss Way, only because their Eric Pode of Croydon was a character in the same vein.

Kenneth Horne’s programme was rich with innuendo, the most terrible puns and movie spoofs, and the most ludicrous introductions. The cast ridiculed and railed at each other, and the fabulous Betty Marsden ploughed her way through as the only female member of the cast, giving as good as she got.

Before you ask, I will say little about The Goons, because I didn’t understand it when I was little. I was in my later teens when I finally realised what I was listening to. My only comment will be that The Canal, with Valentine Dyall, is one of the most enjoyable radio comedy episodes I have ever heard. You had to be there.

But no horror, no ghostly tales. Maybe my parents turned it off at that point, or Great-Aunt Olive had a firewall on the set which blocked out anything spooky.

So as I grew old and less wise, I started purchasing cassettes of short ghost stories, such as those by M R James, or The Price of Fear. I haunted, and still haunt, car-boot sales and charity shops, poking into the darkest corners. I got bored with Bram Stoker after buying six different versions of Dracula, but did manage to find Christopher Lee reading Classic Tales of the Supernatural. Almost as good a voice as Valentine Dyall. And Classic Ghost Stories, which includes Dickens and E Nesbit.

I thought I was doing well until I came across two more wondrous finds, both of them via the internet.

The first was Wayne June reading H P Lovecraft. The pleasure I had from Lovecraft’s stories was multiplied thricefold by hearing Wayne June’s voice intoning The Dunwich Horror, or The Horror at Red Hook. The weakest stories were improved; the strongest ones were made magnificent. The man could read my shopping list and make me feel worried.

(I should add a note here. I must admit to being impressed by Richard Coyle’s recent Lovecraft recordings. At the Mountains Of Madness is terrific, and The Shadow over Innsmouth is pretty damned good.)

My second discovery was American and Canadian Old Time Radio. Who knew that they had recorded hundreds of classic and contemporary horror stories on their commercial channels? Most of North America, presumably. But not Yorkshire. How much richer my childhood might have been, replacing The Clitheroe Kid with Nightfall.

I found streaming audio – I always think that should be screaming audio – for many wonderful stories. I particularly like the shows Dark Fantasy and The Haunting Hour. Witch’s Tale, delivered by “Old Nancy the witch of Salem” has its moments, but my award goes to The Weird Circle.WeirdCircleBroadcast between 1943 and 1945, it had the most marvellous opening and closing lines. The show began with

“In this cave by the restless sea, we are met to call from out of past, stories strange and weird. Bell keeper, toll the bell, so that all may know that we are gathered again in The Weird Circle.”

and ended with

“From the time worn pages of the past, we have recalled (whatever the episode was). Bell Keeper, toll the bell!”

The lines were delivered with great solemnity, to the sound of surging waves, and classic writers such as Poe and de Maupassant were included. Had I heard these as a child I would have been awestruck. They’re pretty cool today. You might end up smoking a lot of Ogden’s Fine Cut Tobacco, however.

So search out mystery and horror on Old Time Radio, if you haven’t already. And I’ll be here at the same time next week. In three or four days, actually, but what the hell…

Share this article with friends - or enemies...

Longdogs versus Zombies

Hey, are you an avid fan of zombie films and TV series? Do you love World War Z, and find yourself glued to The Walking Dead, or anything by George Romero?

I can’t say I do.

In fact, I could probably cope without ever tripping over another zombie for the rest of my life, in any medium you care to mention. Including my life, which is probably classed as a large rather than a medium, given my love of Pateley Bridge pork pies.

(I make one exception – the film Cockneys vs Zombies – because it features the slowest chase scene ever, where a stumbling zombie chases a pensioner with a zimmer frame. That bit is fun, believe me.)

So this entry isn’t about zombies.

It starts there, because of the way my mind works. The other day I finally remembered the title of the first zombie film I saw, White Zombie (1932), starring Bela Lugosi. I didn’t actually see it in 1932, before you ask.

My interest was aroused when I found out that it was based on The Magic Island, by William Seabrook (1884-1945). Seabrook was interested in voudou, and travelled extensively. More interesting to me was that he claimed to have tasted human flesh. Accounts vary. He originally said that he was given human flesh in West Africa, and then that he had to obtain a body from a French morgue. He described it thus:

It was mild, good meat with no other sharply defined or highly characteristic taste such as for instance, goat, high game, and pork have. Jungle Ways

I read this, and thought a lot about mild, good meat. I was brought up in the Church of the Confirmed Carnivore, you see. It was a bit like the Plymouth Brethren, but you could fancy other men if no-one was looking.

My father was a firearms dealer. We didn’t eat any of the neighbours in our tiny village, sadly. Instead, he taught me to hunt. He also taught me how to cast my own bullets and load cartridges, and we went out on the wolds to shoot rabbit and pigeon (mostly).

Out there, in the winds off the North Sea, we scanned the gorse bushes and let loose the wonky, unevenly-powered bullets from Hell. I’m not sure I was very good at the ammunition bit. And we carried home flesh for mother, who usually forced a smile.

The rabbits were paunched in the field, leaving the innards on the grass for other hunters. The pigeons were de-cropped and plucked on the kitchen floor. As the sink was sometimes filled with live crabs, this was a messy business with little hand washing.

I don’t have a gun any more, but when we took on our latest lurchers, we found out that the female had once been used for hunting. Given the hillsides full of rabbits near us, we considered the matter. Were we going to let Chilli hunt, and catch us some free dinners? A Household Meeting (me rattling on while my partner read a book and mumbled uh-huh now and then) came up with three key issues:

– If we started her back on hunting, would that make her even more likely to chase and eat the neighbourhood cats?
– How many farmers did we know who would let us do it (none)?
– What were we going to do with all the hares/rabbits, given that I was the only one who would touch them with a Polish bargee?

I have a family which considers chicken breasts to be a pretty bloody affair, and likes to live off long-dead pasta and humanely-killed salad vegetables.

Well-trained lurchers or longdogs know what to do. They have to. They hunt and take down the species(s) you train them on. You do have to proof them against going after anything that moves, but they can be taught to wander through a flock of sheep, ignore chickens and so forth. So it might be possible to train, or re-train, Chilli to focus on rabbits alone (and perhaps cats with very long ears). I can’t speak on the squirrel issue – every lurcher we’ve had has gone into a frenzy over squirrels, regardless of what we’ve told them.

Cand 8bDjango and Chilli enraged with bloodlust

Was it worth it? Even if we dealt with the first two issues, I would still be left living alone in the garage with lots of rabbit corpses. In the end we decided against the hunting, although Chilli didn’t get a vote. Perhaps that will teach her not to interfere in Labour Party leadership elections.

And today we were up at Pateley Bridge, and I had to walk the poor dog past half a dozen fenced fields full of lively bunnies. It was the Torment of Tantalus, rabbits offered but always out of reach. I was thinking, Mmm, pies; Chilli was thinking, Why wait for pies? My partner, who is a kindly soul when kept off the coffee, was thinking, Oh, they’re cute.

So my only recourse is to write to the Tory Party and ask if they want Chilli and me to hunt down some of these immigrants that are worrying them. Presumably not those who are building our houses, keeping our hospitals running and staffing our care homes. And not the ones who are half-drowned from crossing the Mediterranean.

It’s a complex issue, and I want to know – is it OK to hunt down totally unskilled, clueless immigrants with lurchers, paunch them in the car park and take them home for supper? Would William Seabrook have approved, and would they make good pork pies?

Politics, eh? Give me longdogs any time.

Share this article with friends - or enemies...