Archive for February, 2015

Scheming Sat-Nav lures driver to the outer limits…?










I was driving to my new place in Worcestershire a few nights back, and as I had no great idea of the best route, I tried out my new GPS. I had got it from the A-Store online, a Malinche 2, supposedly the next big thing in that kind of tech. Anyhow, as I was following the soothing voice, I found that I had got myself far away from the route I had established over the preceding week. In fact, I had strayed so far from any predictable roads, that I found myself on the outskirts of your town, Lethmachen, which, as far as I can see, having subsequently consulted an OS, takes me in quite the wrong direction. Hoping that all would come out ok, that, perhaps, this was all part of some lateral thinking on the part of the Malinche, I kept going, only to be directed towards what seemed to be some kind of quarry, just about visible behind a small, sparse wooded area.

It was getting late, and even from inside the car I could hear the trees, all bare, of course, clicking in the dusk. I felt a little shiver even before the Malinche piped up. It said “You are home”. It repeated this a few times, and I can tell you, I was getting quite unnerved. I reached out to turn the thing off, and just as my finger made contact, it said again “You are home”. Something about the way it said it caught me, and I looked out. In the few moments that had passed, the darkness had really come on, and there was nothing but the indistinct mass of the trees, swaying a little more than they had done, and through them the white glow of rocks beyond which there was nothing but a deep blackness. I found myself looking intently, almost as if there might be something amongst it all that was familiar.

When the Malinche spoke for the last time, there was something different about it, some insistent inflection that I did not like. “You ARE home”, it said. I put the car into reverse without looking back, my three point turn threw up a little shower of gravel, and then I was off. I turned off the GPS, of course, and found my way back to my regular route. I told my wife about it, and she mentioned your site. Is this the kind of thing that you are interested in? I can give you more details if you wish…

Gavin Elms, Malvern



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Local historian identifies a secret path through Lethmachen 









An interesting correspondence has reached us from local protestor, and noted military historian, Ashley Clarence. Evidence of a previously unknown Long Straight Track, perhaps?  A simple delusion? Or something more sinister?


Dear Lethmachen Haunted

I am, as I am sure you know, one of the most vocal members of the grass-roots movement opposed to urban encroachments on the green and pleasant land surrounding our town.  It was I who led the resistance to Keepers Close, and although we lost that particular battle, I had sworn that a victory against the proposed adjoining development would signal our commitment to a protracted war.  Last week, I gained access to the archives of Shire Hall, hoping that I would discover some long forgotten fact of rights or geology that might aid our cause. Unfortunately, this was not what I found.

One cannot, I think, look at an old map of one’s home town without attempting to locate one’s home within it.  I did just this as soon as the map was laid before me, but as my finger traced the empty space that awaited my kitchen and bathroom, I perceived that a path, now long forgotten, led straight to my hearth. It was not so much that I saw this: it was not marked as such.  What I glimpsed instead was something more akin to a trace, the evidence of the path’s absolute necessity.  I knew at once that if it had been seen by me, then it could be struck upon by others. It would not be a difficult road to travel.  This continues to worry me. If seen, it could be walked. It would need a degree of grit, but no machete. And the worst are those who persevere.  It was a road that would only be seen – I see this now – by one who wished to gain entry against my will, and fix a hold upon me.  There is no act I could perpetuate to lessen the treat. To destroy the map? Of course! But I was in a record office.  You would not, and neither could I. And who is to say what the strike of the match, or the sound of the tear, might attract?  It would be fruitless anyway. The sight of the path does not lie in or on the record.  Knowledge of it begins with intent, not research.  If the will is there – map or no map – the path will be seen.

To live with such a furrow! After only a week, I have used up all of my resources. To confess, I feel, is my only recourse.  It is thus I write to you. Not a confession of any act, but of the path: a making public of it. The hope – against hope, increasingly – is that, through this, the step will not be stealthy if it comes, but will resound as a tramp. A Familiar road. I mean that in the vulgar, rather than comforting, sense, I think. It is done. The path is inked. Any traveler upon it walks through this.

Yours sincerely,

Ashley Clarence


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‘Silent Anguish’ on the bog: the latest exhibit at Lethmachen Museum causes a stir….











Last year’s discovery of a well preserved ‘bog body’ out on The Lethmachen Levels provoked a flurry of excited speculation among archaeologists worldwide. If the unearthing of ‘The Mourne Woman’ has since failed to capture the anticipated international headlines, this may in part be due to the interference of local officials who, as readers of this site will be aware, are less than keen to have a spotlight trained on Lethmachen. Yet the impact of the event has also been undermined by a glaring lack of reliable scientific conclusions. Most significantly, eminent archaeologists have so far failed to reach an agreement on the dating of the body. A difference of opinion has arisen over The Bronze and Iron Ages, as well as the manner of death, although all appear satisfied it was the result of some form of violence. Further tests have been called for, as have the resignations of staff currently supervising the project.

In the midst of all this distrust and confusion, Lethmachen Museum bravely decided to plough ahead and present ‘The Mourne Woman’ to the general public, as part of their February exhibition: ‘History On Our Doorstep. Infamous, eccentric landowner Henry Savory, on whose property the ‘bog body’ was located, had immediately donated the find to his local museum. Head Curator Ian James proudly announced ‘This artefact represents our shared heritage and should not be kept under lock and key. It deserves to be seen by all’. ‘The Mourne Woman’ has indeed proved an instant success, with daily queues trailing the length of the High Street. However, perhaps neither The Museum nor the scientific world was prepared for the nature of some of the reactions.

Judging by the information we have received, responses to the sight of ‘The Mourne Woman’ seem to follow a similar pattern. The account we now give prominence to is fairly representative, if perhaps expressed in more colourful language than most. The words are those of a thirteen year old schoolboy. The boy wishes to remain anonymous, yet I can tell you he is the son of an old school friend, who in turn related the story to me:

‘I don’t usually go to museums that much, not unless we have to because of school. My parents aren’t really interested, and that is a good thing. I would hate to be one of those kids that get dragged along to museums or art galleries every weekend. I’ve seen some of those trendy parents, standing in front of paintings and clapping their hands excitedly like stupid seals. They always start speaking in this fake voice and want to tell you what anyone can already see for themselves. When an adult does that to me I just deliberately look away and stop listening. But sometimes I like to go to museums on my own, especially when they are showing something weird. Friday morning in class everyone was talking about this ‘bog body’. So I went right after school that day, when nobody else would see. It wasn’t as scary as I expected; it was smaller than I imagined and behind glass. Yet even though it wasn’t that frightening, I couldn’t stop staring at it. I was stood there for ages, but nobody bothered me. It was close to closing time and the building was almost empty.  Maybe I was thinking of how I will look like when I am dead. Probably pale and ugly with stupid eyes staring at the ceiling. Before I knew it, they were announcing they were shutting, but I didn’t really care about the rest of the exhibition anyway.  All I could think about on the way home was ‘The Mourne Woman’. It was something about the face. Even though the eyelids and lips were screwed shut, and the skin was all tanned and withered, the face had this expression on it that reminded me of someone. I knew it.

That night I stayed up late, but it wasn’t until I woke up the next morning that I remembered. Quite a long time ago I used to go to the children’s library in town. Every other Saturday I was allowed to borrow three books. Most of the staff there were really serious and unfriendly. They would snap at you for putting something back on the wrong shelf or putting your feet up on the seats. Then, for a little while, I suppose about nine months, there was this younger woman working there. I never spoke to her properly or knew her name, I was only a kid, but I remember the first time she was there she helped me find a book I wanted. The other staff told me it was on loan. After that I made sure I always waited until she was free at the desk so I would be served by her. It sounds a bit weird now, but I think I pretended we were real friends. I actually started to look forward to my visits to the library, and would spend the night before imagining a conversation I might have with her. This was all stupid – we never had any conversations and then one weekend she had gone.  I really hoped she was sick, that she would be back in a few weeks, but I never saw her again. Until now.  ‘The Mourne Woman’ had the same expression on her face: kind but sad, like she was surrounded by people who would not listen. There couldn’t be anyone else who felt exactly the same as that. ‘The Mourne Woman’ was my librarian from a few years ago, not centuries old like the scientists said. What if someone had killed her and hidden her body on the marsh? What if she had got lost on her way home and drowned, dragged under by the weight of heavy books? Someone had to know…’

It may be tempting to interpret the above narrative as some flight of schoolboy fancy and yet many other visitors to the museum have emerged with an almost identical impression. Those gathering to see the ‘bog body’ have become convinced that, rather than being an antiquity, these remains are in fact those of a distant relative, a half forgotten lover, an ex work colleague, or even  just a nodding acquaintance from a town where they once lived.  Archaeological experts have greeted these proposals with the expected disdain, apparently offended that their claims of ‘historical authenticity’ should be permitted to be questioned by the general public. When we approached paranormal investigator Dr Neil Cross for comment, he observed that people’s reactions were probably due to some form of ‘mass hysteria’ prompted by a ‘desire for ethnic roots’ within this ‘uncertain age’. However, off the record, Dr Cross admitted that he too had been inexplicably affected on viewing ‘The Mourne Woman’. ‘I thought I was seeing my late wife, shortly before she passed on’ he confided ‘there was something in the expression…the look of silent anguish…’


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An invitation to romance?

Neil Train Flyer












Chaplakk Quarry and Railway Museum is a privately owned working railway situated on the site of the famous  Waterbuch Quarry three miles South East  of Lethmachen.  In 1963, Dewey Chapplakk, a respected local businessman, responded to Dr. Beechings cuts with a plan to enshrine some aspects of the British rail system as it had appeared to him in his youth.  Over the years he and his successors have laid a full mile of standard gauge passenger carrying line.  Stations, signal boxes and additional equipment have also been restored and sensitively introduced into the surrounding environment.  Throughout most of the year, attendance is sporadic. Occasionally one may see parents with very young children, but visitors are mostly male retirees, many of them ex- rail employees. In early December Father Christmas visits, an event that seemingly grants the station the revenue it needs to see it through another year.

Last Tuesday, on clearing up after a meeting of the volunteers who help maintain the engines,  Christopher Chaplakk, the present owner, found  a number of leaflets left on benches, scattered amongst the various exhibits, and even dropped on the footplates of the locomotives themselves.  Although passing them off as an obscure prank, Chaplakk was concerned enough to pass them on to us.  The Chaplakk exhibition has long been regarded as an eccentric folly, yet is something being fired up in the sheds that is stranger than any suspected…?

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A campaign of poison pen posters linked to local election campaign?














On the 8th December last year, residents of Deerbo Street in Lethmachen taking the unnamed alley that leads to the town centre, were confronted by a white poster, 2 metres across, upon which were printed, in a large, bland, green font, the name “Jonathan Forester”. As any local will tell you, Forester is a council employee, a street cleaner, notorious for the obscurity of his banter (“Check it, eh? Check it? Check me, ain’t it!”). The poster remained a week, at the end of which it was replaced by another, identical but for the name “Christopher Fennel”. Fennel will be known to any who had the dubious privilege of a Lethmachen Grammar education in the 1980s, when the rumours concerning “Feeler Fennel”‘s predilections circulated widely. Again, the poster remained a week, to be replaced by another, this bearing the legend “Stuart Still”, the name held by the proprietor of “The Silver Trawl”, Lethmachen’s most frequented fish and chip shop. By the end of day, an aerosol spray had scrawled an addition: “Stolen Goods”. Two day later this was followed by “BACK OF LoRRy FISh”. After seven nights, another poster appeared, this featuring the name “Esther Spine”, local librarian and friend to this website. This tempted no mark. The next name, Jeffrey Stadt, attracted considerably more attention: “tax”; “two jobs”; “non-declaration”; “Dodgy”; “tax” (again). A new name has appeared on a fresh poster at the start of each week since. Thus we have learnt that “Joss Whetsone” is associated with “Mary Furlong”, that “Sally Picketts” suggests “Pisses in Street”, and “Grace Harrow” impels someone to write “VANDAL”, “cheat”, “smokes, dad not know”, and “glass”. It will come as no surprise, perhaps, that one name, that we will not repeat, has met with the amendments “kids”, “Paedo”, and “boys”.

This week, “Harry Allbutt” inspired the somewhat gnomish “dead”. A threat, perhaps, as Allbutt is, by all accounts, very much alive. Subsequent comments clarified matters to a certain extent, whilst promoting numerous further questions: “No pulse. I checked”; “Doesn’t know. Nor does wife even”; “dead for years”; “corpse”; and then again, simply “dead”.

Postscript Since going to press we note that the most recent pre-election pamphlets issued by the Party for the Fields and Trees features Lord Carrier standing in front of this very poster. Naturally, he is throwing his head back in a fit of uncontrollable laughter.

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