I was looking through my emails last night, and came across something I wrote several years ago. I think it holds up well, and has a nice Lovecraftian vibe to it.
To put it into context, on a forum I used to frequent, BBC Property Watch had posted looking for stories from people; I’m not sure what they had requested exactly, but what I sent was likely not it!
I saw your advert, and wanted to share my experience.
I inherited my home from a deceased great-uncle. He had long been the black sheep of the family, an adventurer and privateer, so they say, but everyone seemed loathe to discuss him.
He had died whilst living in Haiti, where he had become involved with some Vodun sect, and apparently before he died he willed his house, Old Wraith Manor, to me.
Why he selected me I can never tell – it has been remarked since that there is a passing familial resemblance, but there must be more to it.
At any rate, I soon moved into the place once the legal formalities had been taken care of, and soon set myself to the task of clearing out the accumulated objets d’art and curios my great-uncle had acquired (by regular, and sometimes dubious means) over the decades.
It was then that I discovered “the box”. Hidden in an obscure corner of the attic, padlocked on four sides, hidden under an old rug. Ebony, or so it appeared, and most disturbingly (for I had discovered it on a bitterly cold night in December), it was warm to the touch.
I picked it up, and the instant I did so, every light in the house was extinguished, and there began a tumultuous clamouring from the rooms below me – the room where my uncle used to plan his excursions.
And yet, what could be causing this disturbance?
For I was alone in the house, so no human could be making such a noise…
Summoning up as much courage as I could muster, and grabbing an old blunderbuss that my deceased great-uncle kept in the attic, I crept downstairs. The lower levels of the house were in complete disarray. Doors had been torn off their hinges. Carpets shredded. Every picture turned inwards to face the wall. A dank, dread smell pervaded the air, and what was worse was the creeping stain that stole across the walls. I touched it – damp and warm. On pulling my hand away, I realised to my horror that the stain was blood. Fresh blood.
Ghastly wailing noises and knocks could be heard, coming from within the walls. Such events occurred not just once, but every night for these past several weeks. And so I am left with only one question, that perhaps you can help me resolve…
If I knock through a dividing wall from the crypt to the laboratory of doom, do you think unleashing the hideous demons contained within would increase the value of the property? Or would I need planning permission?
This academic year I have:
- gone from being unemployed to getting a permanent job at College
- gone from having 0 teaching hours per week to 12 teaching hours per week
- successfully completed the first year of my PGCE
- entered students to the Higher Tier of the GCSE exam, rather than all Foundation Tier
- managed to become a manager at the College (I know, how???)
- became quite active in the Union.
All told, quite a busy year. My management job is full-time (my previous job was part-time, allowing me to do 12 hours of teaching). But I need to be allowed to finish the PGCE, so next year I will (fingers crossed!)be allowed to carry on the minimum teaching load to keep up with the PGCE, 6 hours per week. As coincidence would have it, that is the amount of time given to the challenging students for English, so I can carry on teaching those classes for another year (I hope).
The exam is on Tuesday. I’m nervous. The majority of my students are sitting the Higher Tier paper. That includes almost half the challenging students. I hope my faith in them pays off, not for me, but for them. The Foundation paper may be capped, with a maximum mark, but the Higher Tier paper fails you if you don’t get a D. The students are capable, but sometimes they don’t want to work for it. But I at least hope that I have impressed upon them the importance of the exam.
Things that my students have taught me this year?
- Apparently if I were to kick one of them in the head it would constitute the Best. Lesson. Ever.
- I overestimate how well my students know internet memes.
- 34 years old is apparently “ancient”.
- Star Wars references are wholly lost on my students.
- As are Harry Potter references.
- And biblical references.
- Don’t even mention topical news references.
- There is no more inappropriate way to end a controlled assessment assignment than with “peace out homie and shit.”
- Students will still demand to “watch a film” during every class except the ones when they have to write a film review and therefore watching a film might actually be of benefit to those who keep moaning that they “don’t know what film to pick”…
- My students own more smartphones than any person has a reasonable need for.
- My students can hide smartphones in more places than any person has a reasonable need to contemplate.
- Despite having to read less whilst studying it, my students cannot abide poetry, and would much rather we had studied Of Mice and Men.
- I am still irrationally against teaching Of Mice and Men and am thinking about tackling 1984 next year…
Two weeks after completing the London Marathon and I think my body has recovered, more or less. The blisters on my feet have turned into peeling skin, the raw rubbing on my arms has faded, and my knees and hips are on speaking terms with me once again.
And so my thoughts turn to my next run…
Way back in 2012 I set myself a target of running a 5k, 10k, half-marathon and full marathon within the period 1 May 2012 to 30 April 2013. Starting with the BUPA 10,000 on 27 May 2012, then the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon on 7 October 2012 and culminating in the Virgin London Marathon 2013 on 21 April 2013. Along the way I neglected to run an officially timed 5k race, but knocked off several 5k runs as part of my training, so I’m allowing that as part of the target.
Somewhere in and around all that I forgot that I’m running the BUPA 10,000 again this year, and have an urge to go for the Royal Parks Half again, though I suspect I may not get an entry for that. I have however entered the ballot again for next year’s marathon. That particular course and I have some unfinished business to attend to, particularly mile markers 8, 13 and 17…
Back to the point. Although I am not officially running for Mind this time round, my fundraising page Barefoot and blistered across London will remain open for several other months, including the time I’m running the BUPA 10,000. So anyone who hasn’t donated, my 10k run might be a little nudge in the right direction to send some cash my way. For those who have donated already, well you could always treat this as another charity run…
I am £1002 short of my fundraising target for the London Marathon. So I need to find 100 generous people to give £10.02. Maybe you can donate. And you know two other people who can donate. And they know two people. I’m raising money for Mind, England’s leading mental health charity. One in four people will suffer from mental health problems, so 25 out of those 100 people I’m looking for are directly affected by the cause I’m fundraising for. And the other 75? You know someone in the 25, so you’re indirectly affected.
So please, give generously. And me? I’ll be back out on the streets in all conditions, barefoot and blistered…
I’m back at home after running the London Marathon today. And I am in pain.
My feet are a swarm of blisters, and even without the blisters feel like they have shattered. My back, shoulders, hips and legs feel twisted and knotted, and I can barely move.
But I completed the marathon. It was far outside my target of 4hrs 30mins. I finished in 6hrs 9mins 37s. Partly because of the blisters, partly because I collided with a wheelchair at mile 6 and went over my ankle, and partly because for several miles I could do nothing else except walk, and even then barely.
Ignoring what it did to my body, mentally it almost broke me several times. Mile 8. Mile 13. Mile 17. At these points I almost gave up. But thanks to supporting texts from Julia, the generous support of the other runners and the public, and my fellow Mind runners, I made it.
My donations page is still open: Barefoot and blistered across London and I would dearly appreciate it if you could make a donation if you haven’t done so already, or to encourage friends/family/colleagues/random strangers in the street to donate. It is all for a very worthy cause.
As for me, that is my last marathon. For today. Right now, if you asked me do I want to do the London Marathon next year, I’d tell you no way. Tomorrow? Who knows. Certainly I have a course to get revenge on. It almost broke me this year. The temptation to break it next year is appealing…
Race photos to follow!
As you read this post, I am lined up at the start line of the Virgin London Marathon.
This is my first marathon, and I’m in all likelihood incredibly nervous.
But you can help settle my nerves, by visiting my sponsorship page Barefoot and blistered across London and making a donation to my fundraising total.
As ever, I’m running on behalf of Mind. The London Marathon is their largest fundraising event of the year, so it is vitally important that each and every runner on Team Mind achieves their fundraising target of £1600. I’m a little short.
OK, I’m a lot short. £1200 short to be precise. So go on, give a little money to help a lot of people. People like me.
If you fancy a flutter, you can make a donation and guess when I’m going to finish by visiting my Guessability page. Not sure how long it will allow guesses to be made to it, but I’d say that you have until mid-day at least.
Wish me luck!