Welcome, dear listeners, to our usual mid-week medley. Lurcher versus daffodil, the new Carnacki audio reviewed, weird scout badges and odd links. No change there, then.
We start with Django and the daffodils, mainly because it’s driving us mad at the moment. He is a large dog, a fine dog, but he has an issue which may be verging on OCD. In fact, verges are part of the problem. Let us explain…
We live in what you might call a market town sellotaped onto the edge of a city. And in this little town, people plant daffodils. Everywhere. The roundabouts, the sides of roads, the bits of grass outside their houses, the municipal displays, the pots along the high street… it never ends. We suspect there are even locals walking round with daffodils growing in their jacket pockets at this time of year. In case someone’s been missed out, or not got the message, the local shops sell masses of cut daffodils as well. All very nice, we suppose, if somewhat obsessive.
But anyway, Django. He is a dog who counts. He counts the hours and he uses numbers. Impressive for a dog who runs into trees and can’t find his teddy.
You may remember we posted a chart of his daily routine some while ago( see days of whine and lurchers ). He knows what time of day it is, and he knows what he wants in each time-slot. What we didn’t mention is that he counts his treats. His supper-time treat, which cannot be missed, runs to three pieces of whatever has died recently or is lounging in the fridge – liver pieces, chicken slices and so on. The other dogs stand there with gaping maws and take as much as they are given, presumably until one of them explodes. Django eats three pieces every night, and then assumes that’s it. Time to go and pee. A longdog of very precise habits.
Unfortunately he also counts daffodils, and this habit is out of control. Every single walk now consists of patrolling from one eruption of daffodils to the next and christening them. Sniff sniff, cock leg, move on. There are least two hundred plantings of these bloody bulbs on our street alone. We’re not kidding. Every verge has a line of them in separate clumps, and every clump has to be tallied.
This may sound mildly amusing, until you have to do it twice a day with another (disinterested) longdog in tow and all the pedestrians and motorists staring at you. We weave backwards and forwards, smiling awkwardly at the people who planted the bulbs outside their own houses, or explaining Django to staring schoolchildren. We tremble for the moment when someone shouts “Daffodil killer!” and the mob reaches for its pitchforks.
Worse, naturally, is the fact that each night other dogs smell his mark and decide they’ll add their own little note. So the next day Django has to start all over again, either answering their comments or obliterating them. A twenty minute walk takes an hour, until you wonder just how large his bladder is. How can he possibly contain enough pee to mark the one hundred and eighty fifth clump? Surely he’ll get bored soon?
He doesn’t. Another few weeks of this and we may go out one night and dig up the damned plants, but this is a risky and heretical thought. They say that an old lady was burned at the stake around here in 1958, just for saying she preferred tulips.
There are, we expect, daffodils planted on her grave.
Now, for our weirder listeners, a quick review of the Carnack audio collection which came out last week from Big Finish Productions. Last week we had the producer Scott Handcock talking to us about its making (see carnacki lives! ). In a couple of weeks we’re delighted to say that we will have Dan Starkey, the lead actor, saying his own piece in another exclusive interview. So, is it any good?
Uh, yes. It’s great.
We don’t usually do reviews, so we’ll keep it short. There are six stories, as listed before, with a run-time which varies between forty two and fifty seven minutes, so a good five hours of Ghost Finder pleasure in total.
The stories are perfectly framed as separate sound files, with a nicely understated score which only serves to enhance the general mood at key points of each story. You might hear the gentle crackle of the fire behind Carnacki’s voice as he recounts his adventures after dinner, or a subtle eeriness on the air which reminds you of what he is facing. The score is always there to support the narrative, never to detract from it.
This is a straight, very faithful rendition of the original stories by William Hope Hodgson, and very well produced. No unnecessary updating, no loss of Hodgson’s period language or descriptions. Spot on.
Dan Starkey is, to be honest, fantastic in the role. He has given a definitive voice to the Ghost Finder, one which has you believing immediately that you’ve met the real Thomas Carnacki. Starkey shares the detective’s feelings of funk at facing monstrosities, his suspicions and his courage with equal facility, and his performance breaths new life into the text.
He is also very good at giving character to the people Carnacki meets. He has a talent for accent and delivery which involves you in an extremely satisfying way, and again this only enhances the whole story. The nearest equivalent we can think of is one of those classic one-man shows.
Without being mean to Joseph Kloska, who provides a fine Dodgson where the original introductory or interrogative sections need to be included, buy this for the new Ghost Finder.
Dan Starkey is Carnacki.
Those of you who dared to read our latest Sandra’s First Pony story, ‘The St Valentine’s Day Mascarpone’, may have noticed that the local Girl Guide troop played a larger part than usual (see bad love: the return of sandra’s first pony). In the process you will have met their leader Adelaide Cleggins, whose addiction to ginger beer and Brasso has often worried Sandra. Adelaide is “a big girl, with three badges for unarmed combat and one for advanced police driving, which was unusual for a twelve year old.”
Subsequent to posting that, our invaluable ICT guru Trevor provided us with a rather appropriate link. Alternative Scouting badges, by artist Luke Drozd. We feel that Adelaide would approve.
A last word for Matt Cowan and his blog Horror Delve, a hoard of weird fiction articles and reviews. Matt recently asked a number of writers and enthusiasts to comment briefly on their favourite weapons in fantasy. greydog crept in somehow, choosing Terminus Est from the Gene Wolfe novels, and it was rather fun. Check out Matt’s blog here:
Tired now, as Mr Bubbles would say. If the winds blow fair, then we’re back later this week with Stranger Seas 3, featuring a terrific interview with ace horror writer Ray Cluley!