On Thursday 12 January I’m returning as the guest of that fine gentleman Tim Prevett on his ‘History and Mystery’ show on RedShift Radio.
From 7pm I’ll be playing and discussing brain-frying soundtrack gems from cult films such as Donnie Darko, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, The Wicker Man, Rosemary’s Baby and The Dawn of the Dead – as well as Werner Herzog’s mystical-weirdo classic Aguirre: Wrath of God.
Then from 8pm the topic changes to the Jacobites and the Supernatural, with Tim and I discussing everything from accusations that a Jacobite general sold his soul to the Devil, to the alleged magical powers of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and a host of Jacobite ghosts. In addition, as RedShift Radio is based in Crewe, I’ll be exploring the propaganda surrounding the mystical prophecies of Nixon the Cheshire Prophet.
On Monday 21st December I’m delighted to be the guest of the Kinross-shire Historical Society. Topics for the evening will include local big cat sightings, a particularly dastardly bodysnatching crime involving a hidden door and a secret underground dissection chamber, and an eighteenth century poltergeist that specialised in the relocation of pins inside slices of meat and boiled eggs. Just the usual stuff, then.
Everyone is welcome. The event kicks off at 7.30 in the parish church on Station Road, and as usual I’ll have copies of books for sale and signing.
I recently gave a talk to the Dunning branch of the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute, on the subject of the Maggie Wall Witchcraft Monument, which stands just outside the village. It was my first talk at a SWRI, and it was quite an eyeopener. Not many of my talks start with the audience singing a song (in this case, the SWRI anthem), and even fewer involve me being asked to judge the best sweeties!
Apparently it is a tradition that all guest speakers have to judge the competitions held that night. So after selecting ‘best mask’ and ‘best flower’ I had to choose ‘best tablet’. For those not in the know, tablet is a Scottish delicacy, a very sweet caramel-like confection typically made with condensed milk. Now the standard of hand-crafted tablet on display was very high, so as the judge it was of course incumbent upon me to make sure that every sample was thoroughly tested…
This was followed by a cup of tea accompanied by delicious home-made salmon sandwiches. I think that from now on I should ask for such items to be a standard part of my ‘rider’ when I give talks…
As for the talk, it went down very well, with naturally a great deal of interest in my suggestions about the origins of the Witch Monument see here – with several alternative ideas proposed from the audience. My thanks to the SWRI for the invite and the hospitality. Now, back to writing, fuelled by tablet-tastic sugar rush…
On Tuesday 1st November I gave an illustrated talk at Dunning Town Hall on the subject of ‘The Maggie Wall Witchcraft Monument’. I discussed my researches into another ‘famous witch who did not exist’, Kate McNiven, the Witch of Monzie. And as time allowed, we got some sightings of anomalous big cats in as well.
The talk started at 7.30pm, at Dunning, 10 miles south of Perth and just off the A9. The event was organised by the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute, but was open to everyone, not just members of the SWRI.
My thanks, by the way, to the organisers of recent talks I’ve given, from the Breadalbane Heritage Society to the West Stormont Historical Society and the libraries of Coupar Angus and Blairgowrie. In each case the venue was full, the audience engaged, and the Q & A session replete with interest. Enjoyable times.