Tatty and elegant is a very worthy combination. Its a bit like my house on a good day. As for myself on a good day I am just tatty. I have worked that just pulled through a hedge look into a fine art.

Now, that provoked a laugh you might be able to hear clear over the North Pole. May I quote you?

Yes indeed Vickie quote away. I once met an old tramp on a country road who had the look of tatty elegance to the ninth degree. He had what had once been a good and probably hand made tweed suit on. Instead of a belt his trews were held up by a piece of rough rope knotted around his waist. He wore on his head a dashing tweed hat with a feather in it. He had on some good brown shoes that had seen better days.
He was carrying a brown paper parcel of sandwiches and a small number of leather bound books, with gold tooling of perhaps a hundred years plus vintage. These were tied together with string.
We got talking and he had a cut glass accent that was quite genuine. He was obviously a man of education and breeding to use an old fashioned term.
We chatted for a while whilst we took the same road and then went separate ways. I was never to see him again although he made an indelible impression on me.
There must have been an incredible story there I have always thought. Then again perhaps he was not an old tramp, but the local Lord of the Manor? I am destined never to know.
  • You know, with permission, I might have to start posting beguiling stories from around the world… Yours is so tantalizing. Oh, and I would illustrate it with an image of one of David Inshaw’s paintings!
  • Well Thank you Vickie. Glad you liked my little story. It’s quite a few decades old now. The whole encounter did not last long and I cannot remember exactly where I was at the time. I almost certainly was hitchhiking as a student in those days.

    I did not walk in step with him for long till we parted on that sunny day long ago, but he has always stayed in my mind. I did not mention, but he offered me a sandwich along the way {which I declined} as he thought I looked hungry.

    Yes by all means publish you have my permission.

    I have quite a few gleaned along life’s path and with people I have met. I  might tell you one someday if it would not bore you of The Countess who lived on a houseboat that often sank and how her cats survived.

    Her late brother an Irish/ Norman Lord who alas I never met was an even more interesting character.

    I am sure you would have really have liked some of the wonderful eccentrics I have met and treasure in my life.

    From your comment I assume you have now had opportunity to look at some of David Inshaw’s work.

    David Inshaw



    I really liked this. MADONNA LIVED HERE – AND CAUSED A STIR IN BEACHWOOD CANYON | BEGUILING HOLLYWOOD  I liked the history of the place as well. Being British I rather enjoy the prospect of ghosts as well. Nothing like a ghost to make you feel at home.

    People I know have reported ghostly phenomena in houses I’ve lived in — but I think these ether creatures must find me dull — can’t report a peep, a glow, or a slammed door, to save my soul.

    Sorry you don’t appear to attract the slightest bit of ectoplasm. There is nothing like drawing up your chair by a nice warm ghost to make one feel right at home.

    Personally I have stayed in about five haunted houses with interesting results.

    Every so often I take a look at so called ghost hunters courses on the net and wonder should I take one and get a Certificate that says I am the real thing. On the other hand some of the people interested in that sort of thing seem a bit loopy and am I loopy enough? Life is full of hard decisions.

    Five ghostly encounters??? Oh, this might be another beguiling story from around the world… I read Carl Jung’s account of staying in a haunted house. Fascinating!


    Still on the subject of the supernatural Vickie I once climbed over the wall into Highgate Cemetery supposed home of none other than The Highgate Vampire.

    Naturally enough it was er dead quiet and it was a very spooky experience even during the day. I read later that had I departed from the paths I could have fallen into some very shallow and very fragile graves. I remember at the time thinking that if anything happened to me no one would know where I was and I might not be found for a very long time.

    The bit that some people know is that is where Karl Marx is buried. It’s a surprise to find out that his remains are not in Russia for many people.

    The part that I illegally visited is {or rather was} very overgrown at the time and extremely Gothic. It was quite like wandering through a giant film set all by oneself. I learnt later that I was not far wrong and it had been a natural location for a number of films having a supernatural theme. It was a very vivid experience.

    I remember looking through small barred windows in a wheel shaped catacomb section and seeing coffins, one stacked upon the other, in apparently unstable arrangements, some with partially rotted cloth hanging out of them.

    With regard to the so called vampire he declined to show himself. Of course the only explanation for that must have been the time of day?

    Despite that the legend lives on and two self styled occult experts, one who declares he is a Bishop, continue to fight about who has the real goods on the vampire. All very entertaining I am sure.

    The place is genuinely spooky and can easily be Googled for some very Gothic scenes. Oh and apart from its film associations {Hammer Fims?} it has connections with The Pre-Raphaelite Movement.

    Off now to polish my chains.

    Let’s encourage Edward to tell us about the Countess who lived on a houseboat that often sank, her buoyant cats, and her equally interesting brother!

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  1. George Kaplan
    April 6, 2013

    Hooray for Edward and Vickie! You really must tell us more of your fascinating tales, Edward. In fact I must insist…or it’s out with the Ouija board I’m afraid, you see even spooks like hearing about spooks!
    Inshaw’s photographs are marvellous.
    Ah, the Highgate Vampire. At it’s height of notoriety would-be fearless vampire hunters used to hie themselves to the cemetery in hopes of capturing – and, presumably, *staking* – the fiend. I seem to remember one girl came away with an injury on her neck. Hysteria – or something *else*… Nyah-hah-hah!
    Oh, I’m fascinated by the phantasmagorical. More, Eddy, please!
    When he was a young man the journalist John Simpson used to take a shortcut across fields in the country. One day he was walking in a particular field accompanied by no one nor was there anyone behind him, the fields were in open countryside apart from a few trees. There is no way that anyone could sneak up on him without being seen…yet as he walked Simpson chanced to look behind him he saw not very far away…a dark-clad, hooded figure! As I say, there was no way anyone could have walked behind him without being seen and there was something *odd* about this figure, something *unsettling*, out of time. Simpson was surprised but continued on his way. When he looked back the figure was still there. Standing. Watching. Note he didn’t go back to see what this hooded figure was! He turned away and walked on and when he looked again…the figure was gone. Chilling and fantastic.
    More to come… Don’t have nightmares…

    • April 6, 2013

      Well, I don’t suppose it could have been a Yeti in England… Possibly a mad monk?

  2. George Kaplan
    April 6, 2013

    “I have worked that just pulled through a hedge backward look to a fine art” A hoot! I know what you mean, Edward, my hair looks like Peter Falk as Columbo’s at the moment. It’s funny how some of the most truly aristocratic people (or the interesting sort) don’t have a problem looking like vagabonds. They just don’t care. Some of the people in the antiquarian bookselling business and in the murkier sphere of antiques are really interesting and rather disreputable figures – or at least they used to be. Good fictional versions of these can be found in Jonathan Gash’s Lovejoy novels (rather different to the entertaining old Ian McShane/Ian La Frenais tv adaptation – more sex, violence, and amusing dubiousness) and Kyril Bonfiglioli’s Mortdecai series.
    Ooh, ghosthunting! There’s a particular haunted priory I remember reading about that caught my mind; I remember seeing it on television in the early nineties too. The host played back a recording made there and it was so *creepy*! I also remember seeing a photograph of the most wonderfully weird *thing* manifesting in a castle once. Ectoplasmic! Unfortunately, I, like Vickie, never seem to see anything when in apparently haunted castles or houses. Boo! I did see a weird red light in the sky once but I may have had too much vino 😉
    Hammer Films and the Pre-Raphaelites. Two of my favourite things…

    • April 6, 2013

      I’ve been thinking about this ghostly thing… and since I equate the loss of people with unutterable sadness, it would be kind of perk to know the spirits are out there trying to get in touch. Or, my other thought is you might get a sense of other lives in “haunted” houses because of the nature of time – not being linear – or what Einstein said and I completely DO NOT grasp.

  3. April 6, 2013

    Oh my lord. I haven’t been this excited by a tale teller since discovering Cormac McCarthy.

    • April 6, 2013

      Yes! Isn’t he fabulous? He’s a bit mysterious himself, an Englishman who lives in Wales – I’m hoping we all find out more.

  4. George Kaplan
    April 6, 2013

    Yes, a mad monk – that’s what I was thinking! I can’t recall his words precisely but our spooky chum may have been wearing a habit (a bad habit? Ouch!) Could be a Yeti on holiday though, could be.
    Aw, V., I loved your second comment. “Unnutterable sadness” and comfort, yes. Something else, something more. It’s a fascinating, warming idea.
    And then you go into the nature of time, non-linearity, and quantum (sorry, Edward) strangeness. Magical, that’s right in my er wheelhouse! We all know of Deja Vu but have you heard of Presque Vu (sp.?) it means the feeling of “I will be hear again”, it’s a wonderful, weird concept and it doesn’t refer to going to the kitchen or the bathroom (I will be here again. Yes, you will!). Confusing, isn’t it?! Love the way your mind works!

  5. April 6, 2013

    Presque vu as in, I will be here again but as a hedgehog?

  6. George Kaplan
    April 6, 2013

    Bwahahaha! I hope not. No, it’s the feeling you might get in a situation where you feel this exact same thing will happen again in the exact same way at exactly the same time (that’s a lot of exactness!). I don’t know how that’d feel um exactly. Perhaps buddhists would know? The wheel of life etc
    I received your email but I’ve been having dinner and writing it at the same time and I wanted to write well! Just sent it…

    • April 6, 2013

      Exactly. Hm. I’d prefer being here on rainbow platform shoes with a pixie cut, that’s my idea of Nirvana 🙂 I will check the mails!

  7. George Kaplan
    April 6, 2013

    “I’d prefer being here on rainbow platform shoes with a pixie cut, that’s my idea of nirvana” Oh, *darling*! I can see you now 🙂

  8. April 6, 2013

    George the story re John Simpson is quite fascinating and I can see it quite clearly in my minds eye.Is the figure in one of the pictures hooded by the way ?The Simpson story has a certain M R James feel to it I think.I like stories that have a subtle air of disquiet.

    I have certainly read many accounts of people who claim to have seen perfectly solid figures who moments later are not there.It is only the sudden disappearance that has caused them to think that they have seen something labelled as a ghost.

    This raises the question for me as to whether those of us who would say they have never seen a ghost can be after all so certain that they have not.The person we just passed may have seemed quite solid,but unless we checked moments later to see if they were still there,had they disappeared we would never know.

  9. April 6, 2013

    My, my, my…
    An Englishman living in Wales.. why The Dandy is the very reverse.
    Highgate cemetery? I’m more of an Abney Park gent myself, having a taste for draped masonry urns and inscriptions like the poignantly simple ‘Our Nelly’.
    And tramps? My great grandmother, blessed with an extravagantly otherwoldly name, would tell me tales of the tramps that passed through the village seasonally. They were often of many years standing known to the people, they didn’t work per se, but brought gossip and stories and poetry in age before the addiction to electric entertainment.
    They served a purpose, were part of the warp and weft of the cloth of life.
    Generally, they are gone now and people wonder why the fabric of our society wears so thin…
    But I digress.
    I salute both my fellow nation statesmen and their welcome their presence on this blog from across the pond and then some.
    Thank you all.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  10. April 6, 2013

    Do not worry quantum used in the right way is quite fine.Quantum physics is something of a struggle to understand at the verbal level I think as certain ideas obviously create pictures in our mind.I am thinking here for example{and if I have not got this completely wrong} of the idea that light can be both described as a wave and a particle {or even a wavicle}.Now I think as soon as you try and picture this in any way, a form of cognitive dissonance sets in and I just go blank.For me its exactly at the same level as the Zen Koan-What is the sound of one hand clapping?

    Despite this, I did try to read a book at work during night shifts,on a quantum theory of consciousness.I did not get very far before brain fatigue set in.I dont think its beyond me,but it was not something I was prepared to tussle with at night.

    So its break out The Rupert Bear Annuals for the mysterious Englishman {what really Vickie me?}

    • April 7, 2013

      True story, when I was a little girl and people would ask me what I was going to be when I grew up I told them, “I’m going to be an astrophysicist.” So much for my prophetic powers 😉 I’ll just sit here with my wavicle box and have a cup of coffee with my friends.

  11. April 6, 2013

    Well The Perfumed Dandy likes Abney Park.I never went there although I should have as I lived and worked in Hackney for quite a few years.

    I have seen some very impressive pictures of The West Norwood Catacombes.

    • April 7, 2013

      Pictures that you painted or pictures that you photographed?

  12. George Kaplan
    April 6, 2013

    Hi Edward (and thank you again to the Perfumed Dandy), it is very MR Jamesish isn’t it? I have a collection of his stories on my bookshelf and enjoyed some of the BBC Ghost Stories for Christmas when they were repeated. I think the spectre had a hood or cowl, I’ll have to actually get the book from its hiding place to see if I’ve remembered correctly. My memory is wonko, so to speak.
    I think you’d be better off reading Rupert Bear actually! Just imagine a universe where a version of yourself has the time and peace to read the book you mentioned – now *this * you doesn’t have to because the other you already has! I just hope the other you isn’t one with a goatee, in television those doppelgangers are often *bad* 🙂

  13. April 6, 2013

    Abney Park are also a Steam Punk band.I am rather taken with some aspects of Steam Punk anyway.I think my younger daughter might like them.I will have to ask her and hope she does not give me a withering stare.I upset her by saying she is Gothy and apparently she is something else.Ah the joys of parenthood.

    • April 7, 2013

      The youngest in my house has become quite the most informed in clothing design, so I tend to let him suggest my outfits, and since they tend toward black and draping it’s fine with this middle-aged lady. When I asked him what the style was he said it was “alt” or “futuristic” (he never reads this so I’ll just be straight) it looks very classically tailored to me!)

  14. April 6, 2013

    I have many a ghost story to tell. I even lived in a haunted house for 7 years in Riverside. But don’t ask me to tell them with Lane in the vicintiy…he just rolls his eyes and says I am being “Irish”. His term for telling tales and exaggeration. But I will tell them to you in time. …Maybe storytime …ummmm…I need to find a ghostly perfume to link this too. My stars that is INSPERATION! Thanks Vickie!

    • April 7, 2013

      We will find one and see if any spirits stop to say hello in the Hollywood Hills…

  15. April 6, 2013

    Inspiration I mean…. Shakespeare couldn’t spell either. At least that is what the Perfumed Dandy tells me.

  16. April 6, 2013

    Well George I certainly hope my doppelganger does not have a goatee,tattoos,a bad and evil squint or wear a leather jacket bearing the words Satans Slaves.

    He can have a goatee provided he is a beatnik,a jazz poet,an action painter,but promises never to wear shades at night or in low light conditions.

  17. George Kaplan
    April 6, 2013

    Eminently sensible, Edward. Have you ever seen the Roger Corman picture A Bucket Of Blood? Garish title apart it’s a spectacularly tastless parody of beatnikery and the art scene of the time with a hapless Dick Miller taken for a genius artist when in fact he’s… Well, you just have to see it to find out!

  18. April 6, 2013

    As a matter of fact I have it somewhere in a compliation form.I will have to dig it out or perhaps just dig it man.

  19. April 6, 2013

    Tony Hancocks-The Rebel -1961 sent it up also.

  20. George Kaplan
    April 7, 2013

    Yes, and it’s very good too. “(…)or just dig it, man”. Hoo, I get you, daddy-o, and that’s straight from the fridge”. Ahahaha.
    There’s another film that you and others might be interested in, it’s about a slightly different kind of Art. The Horse’s Mouth starring – and scripted by – Alec Guinness; he plays a disreputable artist named Gully with a thoroughly memorable and peculiar voice. Considered a genius by some, he might actually be a wastrel an opinion held by others! It’s based on Joyce Cary’s novel. Amusing.

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