To misquote Stephen King–“I have seen the face of horror, and it is moving house“. Yes, that’s right. We’re 5 months into our house move, in a chain of only 3 properties. And we still haven’t exchanged contracts, so it could all fall apart at any point. Our buyers have been dragging their feet all the way through–not instructing their solicitor for 2 months, then taking ages to settle their mortgage, then at the last minute requesting an electrical safety check–our property is modern, so not really required–and they have now gone on holiday for 3 weeks just at the point of settling things. On top of that, we’ve found out that their solicitor hasn’t even confirmed their identity or given them the contract papers to sign. Ours were all done in the first month. The people we’re buying from are losing patience, and are threatening to put the house back on the market or rent it out. Stress is not the word. I tell you, if this move actually goes ahead, I am going to Google ‘how to summon a lesser demon’ the morning we leave and make our old home as haunted AF.
So, as you can imagine, I have needed plenty of distraction… Thankfully, Halloween is my favourite time of year and I have found plenty to entertain me in recent weeks.
I have a thing for podcasts. I just wish I had more time to listen to them. There are some great shows out there.
A couple of notables in my ears at the moment are ‘American Hysteria’, about social panics–like Satanic panic, D&D scares, queer fear, stranger danger and urban legends; and ‘Relic Radio–The Horror!, which are old horror radio shows, complete with contemporary ads. Honestly, hearing an ad from the 60s for products to free up women’s time to spend more time with their husbands is just the best. True horror.
Terrance Dicks, script editor and writer from 70s Doctor Who died this month. Dicks was part of Doctor Who at a pivotal time–the transition from the second actor to play the part to the third, and at a time of massive change for the show. No longer an eccentric time traveller, Doctor Who was to become a man of action grounded and attached to a military organisation in UNIT, defending the earth from alien invaders and mad scientists. It was like nothing which had come before, or would come again, and brought us so many characters Doctor Who fans have come to love–Jo Grant, Sarah Jane Smith, the Brigadier and the ‘UNIT family’ and of course, the Doctors very own Moriarty–the Master.
As a Doctor Who fan finding the series in its final three seasons in the late 80s, there were 23 years of Doctor Who I hadn’t seen, aside from the odd story here and there. Yes, was captivated by the series when it was in what many consider to be its ‘low point’ and final death throes–and still loved it. It’s a solid reminder that while many a fan will bemoan a Doctor or a period of Doctor Who, they will be the hook into Doctor Who for others. I was able to enjoy these unseen stories through the novelisations made by Target. Each one of these books was a gem to me as I read of Doctors and companions and monsters I had never seen or heard of before and wouldn’t see again until Doctor Who crept out on home video release. Terrance Dicks wrote a number of the novelisations, and so, feeling a bit of nostalgia from losing another piece of Doctor Who history, I revisited one of his titles ‘The Web of Fear’.
The story itself was actually one of the ‘lost’ series–episodes which the BBC wiped from its own archives, and was only found again a few years ago (minus 1 episode which went missing after being found–drama). The novel is an exercise in editing–condensing 6 episodes of a TV serial into a 160 page novel. It’s for kids, so it breaks the writing convention of having just one view point in a scene, happily jumping from one person to another to convey the story. Something I took into my early writing until I was told that this was ‘not the way to do it’ unless you are doing something experimental. But it works well here.
This 5 part limited Netflix documentary explores how a secretive Christian cult is set upon a world of Christian leaders. The members court politicians, bring them in, and they act as missionaries to other countries, where it’s quite clear that Jesus–and Christian beliefs–are all that matter. ‘Dictator with appalling human rights records? Hey, that’s ok, we both love Jesus, right? Let’s be friends’. Meanwhile someone I know mentions they voted Brexit and I want to cut them out of my life… A Christian world enmeshed in politics and the ruling class frighten me. We might think something like ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ won’t happen, well, it could–maybe not as extreme–but social freedoms could so easily be dialled back with an increase in the religious right, appealing to the populist fears and prejudices. It showed the Romanian referendum on changing their marriage definition from spouses to being between a man and a woman, and the Family not promoting it but commending the government for promoting family values. As if gays are the world’s problem. It doesn’t feel so far fetched to think that here in the UK that same sex marriage could be rolled back, and suddenly my relationship won’t have the acceptance and protections of other committed relationships. Especially when parties like UKIP have their surges in popularity with their views on same-sex marriage, and our current prime minister is also quoted with his own questionable opinions.
It’s been a tough week. We’re only in a short chain in our property move, but it’s dragging on. We’re all done our end, but we’re just waiting for our buyers to catch up, and for a moment it seemed a bit touch and go as to whether we still had buyers–which was depressing as we would likely lose the place we like while waiting for another buyer. We missed out on another home last year because we couldn’t find a buyer. Hopefully we’re back on track now.
On top of that uncertainty, Dean cat stopped eating last weekend. We’ve lost two cats and stopping eating was a symptom of the illnesses they had. So, naturally my head went to the worst case scenario. Ugh, me and that cat, honestly, he’s my baby. Follows me everywhere, always next to me or on me. Thankfully he only missed a couple of days, but it was a worry. Hate it when the cats are ill–that whole not knowing what’s going on for them and how long to leave it before we do something for them.
The Haunted House We Nearly Bought
In the midst of buying our next property the survey threw up some issues we thought might cause us to change our minds. Thankfully it all worked out. But, had this fallen through we were worried about the limited choices of properties on the market at the time, and the risk of our buyers getting impatient waiting for us to find something else–it’s taken us a while to get buyers. One of the only other houses which ticked a lot of boxes for us was a large three bed house.
Now, I used to be really into the paranormal as a kid and was a pretty big ‘spooky Mulder believer’, but as an adult I’ve become a doubting ‘raised eyebrow Scully’. Saying that, there was something decidedly ‘off’ about this potential second choice property… If a house could be haunted this would be it. I had a weird feeling about the house, and my husband–who is even more firmly rooted in the sceptic–agreed. It got me thinking about that weird sense you can have about a place. I remember going to see a property with my mum one of the times she was looking, and we both came out of it citing a bad vibe, and then as we talked we realised we had both felt it in one room–the dining room. It just felt unwelcoming. It was similar with this house.
After 10 months of a mix of no interest, false hope and disappointment we’ve finally got a buyer for our flat, and the end of selling is in sight. Our anxious cat, Dean, who hid from every viewer can finally go back to regular anxiety levels. Same for me too, I guess. It happened about a month after we’d found somewhere we liked, so the timing was good. It’s a bittersweet move, as I really like our flat and love the area, but we want different things from our home now and we’d need to take on more mortgage to stay in our current area in a different property, which I really don’t want to do. So, off we have to go. It’s a really nice house though, old but all done up as new, so hopefully it’ll be low maintenance. We’ll just need to make sure we come back to this area to enjoy all the food and the surroundings. It will hit my finances a little, so the writing budget will be zero for a while, which stalls my big motivational push of my self-publishing. Thankfully actual writing is free so I can keep plugging away until I have a self-publishing budget.
Game of Thrones
Just wow. I’m loving this series. I’ll admit I’m not loving how short it is in episodes, but it makes up for it in episode length and pace, and the action and imagery has been epic. I was surprised that the Battle for Winterfell ended the White Walker story so soon, but with so much to tie up I guess it had to end around that time to pick up the pieces and decide the world. There seems to be a lot of criticism, for the way the White Walkers were ended, sidelining Jon as the hero; and for Daenerys going full on mad Queen; and Jamie and Cersei’s end.