I wouldn’t have thrown it away!
That is the cry of the person who cannot find something, because it has to be here, as I wouldn’t have thrown it away!
Books can offer so much solace when the world has gone utterly nuts (and France, I’m looking at you to be the counter-suggestive, contrary race we love, as if everyone us electing right wing dictators, you’re bound to buck the trend, right? Right?!) and so I was looking for my collection of M.R James ghost stories. I read them as a teenager they and are perfect for bedtime, just dripping with the Victorian-ness needed to calm me down, and align me to a time of candlesticks and shawls.
Montague Rhodes James was an author and academic born in 1862, who spent a lot of his life exploring churches and cathedrals, writing stories, studying and working at Cambridge, and quite frankly having a life I would quite like. His short stories are quite fast, some of them read like synopses of novels and could be fleshed out. They are rich in crumbling buildings with hidden compartments, strange rural superstitions and rituals, and ghostly children. I found this great documentary with Mark Gatiss while mourning over my missing book.
And the book is still missing. I have begun to think I should alphabetise my library to save me from going through every shelf and wondering if I’ve gone past it, at one point saying I was saying each title out-loud as I was becoming book-blind.
I’ve had no other choice but to order another collection. There is something infinitely spooky about old Britain, strange medieval paintings and calf skin manuscripts, bodies in barrows, gargoyles and grotesques, witches in caves and priests hidden in walls.
We went to Delgaty castle the other day where a while ago they found what appeared to be the body of a monk hidden in a wall, the ancient remains of a skeleton in habit of dark cloth. Apparently the daughter of the house at the time kept having dreams there was something in the wall, and convinced her parents to open it up. As we read the sign my daughter pointed out it would be a cold day in hell before I’d stretch to demolishing masonry simply because she’d had a dream. I also suspect this was also the case with this girl, too, and the bones were probably found during renovation, which makes far less of a story.
Apparently after that the monk haunted the castle, so I’m guessing he was comfortable in there? I almost wish I had a ghost, as then they could tell me where the lost things were.