Bits and pieces
I have posted this snippet as these devil dogs, as some people called them, feature in my Merlin's School series.
“So you will do well to shut your eyes if you hear him howling. Shut them even if you are uncertain if it is the dog fiend or the wind that you hear.”
--from Highways and Byways of East Anglia by, W.A. Dutch (1901)
"The congregants inside Holy Trinity Church of Blythburgh England are kneeling together in prayer. It is the middle of the night, August 4, 1577, and outside the church a fierce storm has been raging all day and night.
Winds howl and shake the church. Lightning crashes, thunder booms and the rain falls in torrential sheets. The townspeople are gathered together in fervent supplication--praying and hoping against hope that soon the storm will let up.
Blythburgh is located among the marshy fens of East Anglia along the coast of England, and each one of the residents are keeping a watchful and apprehensive eye on the rising tide levels because their livelihoods depend on it. The prospect of calamitous flooding is a constant and fearful reality.
On this stormy night all the townspeople are on their knees fervently praying for the rain to stop, but little do they know that in just a few moments each one of them is about to experience a supernatural terror far worse than anything ever described in even the most fiery of sermons.
There is a crack of thunder that shakes Holy Trinity Church to its foundation. In an instant, an enormous black shaggy hound, foaming at the mouth and with fiery blazing red eyes, bursts through the large wooden double doors of the church and comes howling and sprinting up the aisle towards the nave.
The worshippers scream in terror as the hellish dog runs amok inside. The hound clamps its jaws around a young boy’s throat and yanks out his jugular before mauling the boy’s father and leaving him in a bloody heap next to his son.
The beast lets out a blood-curdling howl and then sprints out the door in a flash. Once the demonic hound has left, the steeple of Holy Trinity Church in the town of Blythburgh, England, comes crashing through the ceiling. To this very day, claw marks are said to be visible, literally burnt into the door of the church, from that fateful night so long ago.
On that very same night, August 4, 1577, it is said that the same hellish beast appeared yet again not very far away, this time in St. Mary’s Church in the English town of Bungay. In St. Mary’s Church the hellhound followed much the same script as in Blythburgh as reported by a contemporary witness:
“The black dog running all along down the body of the church, with great swiftness passed between two persons kneeling and occupied in prayer, as it seemed, wrung the necks of them both, in an instant, clean back.”
-from A Strange and Terrible Wonder by, Arthur Flemming (1577)
In the morning, I was to learn that Arthur liked to gad about. That day I found him beside the pantry, where he stayed for the duration. The following day he sat beside the fridge. And so it was … with each and every day after becoming a guessing game as to his whereabouts whenever I made my initial foray into the living area of the house. I could never be so bold as to place a bet as to his position - he could be anywhere. In fact, it became a natural thing, as soon as I got up, to start searching high and low until I found him.
Over the subsequent days, we did, however, come to an arrangement – we made a kind of a pact, if you like. I promised not to belt him with a rolled-up newspaper if he promised not to frighten the stuffing out of me.
As time passed our promises held and it was at that point I named him Arthur.
One morning, after a horrible night spent wrestling with the bedcovers, I stumbled blearily into the lounge-room, tripped on the edge of the rug underneath the coffee table and wind-milled my way over to grab onto the curtain cord. Arthur had been sitting there peacefully behind the edge of the curtain but was now streaking across the wall at a speed faster than light. He stopped at ceiling height, spread himself out then went on to wave his legs furiously at me. I don’t know if he was sending me semaphore messages like, ‘you clumsy clot,’ or ‘why don’t you look where you’re going,’ or whether he was waving at me in blind anger because he was not impressed at my blundering intrusion into his quiet morning. I must admit, I bid a hasty retreat myself when he first moved from his cosy nook and was watching his communication efforts from the corner of the hallway.
It took a while for Arthur to settle down and resume his position at the edge of the curtain. I think it was the creaking of the fan as it turned on its axis that sent him scurrying back. Or maybe he was ruffled enough and didn’t need any more help. Especially from me!
In the meantime, I decided to sit in the chair underneath Stephen instead of my normal repose of on the couch. It was way too close for comfort to Arthur. I figured that, with the mood he was in at that moment he might choose to tackle me in face to face combat and that was something I did not want on my daily agenda. I have actually experienced this several times in the past and all I can say about it is … you’ve got to be really careful not to put your back out.
Anyway, Arthur was not very friendly on that day. I think he thinks, I breached our code of ethics and over-stepped a boundary in our promises to be honourable to one another. If not that … he was just plainly pissed off.
Online shopping ... it's the thing of the now and probably moreso of the future as the Covid-!9 virus runs rampant over the planet. Most times it's a great experience, but every now and then a trader makes life difficult. Not always because their goods are not as described, more at the time of a return.
I recently had an interesting experience with one such trader - who will be named - New Aim/Online Plaza/Fiona Lee T/A Ilandtrading. I purchased an ioniser from these people under the understanding that it would help with my asthma. The site mentions the usual 30 day return policy. What is not mentioned is that these devices - or most of them - emit ozone ... a substance that is toxic to humans (and probably other life forms as well) I had to return the ioniser.
The return went like so ...
- Thank you; item is fabulous but not for me because ...
- But we will keep up to 50% of your dollars because we're basically not happy with the fact that you are returning the goods.
- Sorry, but that's the way it is.
- Oh ... okay then we charge you extra money ... $23+ to be exact. You change your mind.
- I did not change my mind. It affected my health, and I'm paying for return postage.
- Doesn't matter.
- What about 30 day return policy?
- We still only do it our way.
In the meantime I have contacted Paypal/Ebay myself. The emails are still coming from the trader and they are not giving in and ... they are now asking for more because of their inconvience.
It is here that I tell them they are rip off merchants, they are making excuses not to refund, I have kept all of their emails and will be posting their trading indiscretions online. They say they have sent my email to the service center and 'they' say they don't have to refund.
Again ... in the meantime, the service centre/Paypal/Ebay have granted me my full refund, which I get a portion of. Paypal steps in and gets the rest the balance for me. Thank you PayPal/Ebay.
This is my experience and does not reflect of anybody else's. What it is saying is ... this trader lied to me. They wanted to go back on their 30 day returns policy and help themselves to my money, even though I had returned the goods - at my expense - in pristine/as new condition. They are forgetting that bad business practice and word of mouth is not good for business.
The moral of the story is ... buyer beware. Do be careful. Online shopping is tempting and at this time we need a bit of retail therapy to make us feel good. After all, real window shopping is out of the question in many areas.
Take care, folks. Wash those hands, and wear a mask if you have to.
The next morning, as I dragged myself wearily into the kitchen, I was surprised to see Arthur sitting on the ceiling above the dining room table. Most times you’ll see this particular breed of spider (such as Arthur) for a day then they’re usually gone the next - completely out of sight - sometimes never to return. But I was to find out over time, that Arthur was no ordinary spider.
He waved at me as I edged passed the table warily. I gave him the courtesy of waving back with a, ‘Good morning’. (At this stage I was yet to name ‘the spider’ … remember they normally don’t hang around long enough to get familiar) He waved again and proceeded to spend the rest of the day in the same place … not exactly harassing me … just making his presence known. It didn’t worry me as I had no intentions of dining in style that night. In fact, I would be spending a lot of time in the lounge area instead.
The following day Arthur was back with Stephen. I came to the quick - and presumptuous – conclusion that there was where he lived, behind the picture of my gilded warrior. That was okay by me … as long as I knew. Arthur now sat on top of the frame, content to be refreshed by the fan (I must admit it was hot that day) allowing himself to be gently tousled by the breeze flowing from the rotating cooling device fixed on the ceiling. He neither waved nor budged from his holding until sometime after I switched the light off that evening before taking myself to my bed. Then, under the cover of darkness he made his next move.
Life with Arthur
When I first met Arthur, I was sitting on the couch. He was sitting on Stephen. Stephen is my knight in shining armour, a brass rubbing of a bearded noble man, framed and mounted on the wall opposite. Arthur was splayed across the glass in a most indelicate way, with most of his legs cunningly disguised in the black lines of Stephen's golden image. But Arthur's body made a blob that looked very much out of place. It was this that gave him away.
I just watched on quietly for a while … to see what he would do next. It was not long before I was rewarded with some action. Arthur realised - through some spidery intuition - that he'd been spotted. He then made several extremely heroic attempts to hide again within the contours of the icon but to no avail.
After observing his feeble attempts, I got up from my seat to take a closer look at him. My movements sent him dashing about frantically trying to better his concealment. In the end, he stopped and waved his front legs at me in a threatening manner, like an amateur boxer in the ring. I waved back with my arms, (it would have been too difficult to use my legs at this stage in my life) then stood there with my hands on my hips. With this Mexican stand-off in place he decided to tear up to the top of the picture frame and sit there with the arrogant attitude of ... I'm the king of the castle and you’re thedirty rascal ... all because he thought he was bigger than me at these lofty heights.
This boldness lasted until I turned on the ceiling fan. Not liking his hair ruffled in such a manner, Arthur shot off around the corner in the direction of the kitchen. Out of the onslaught of the fan's movement he found a spot at eye-level which suited his mission to a tee - that of being a terrifying spider! There he splayed himself out on the wall trying to make himself look larger than he really was. He proceeded to spend the rest of the day there, waving his legs at me in a bossy manner every time I passed by. And so, it was for the moment. to be cont.