This December on Resonance FM Jonny Mugwump will be curating a series of Ghost Stories for Christmas in the tradition of the old TV favourites like Whistle and I’ll Come to You My Lad and The Stone Tapes. I was asked for a Belbury Poly contribution and the author Lawrence Norfolk kindly agreed to adapt and read. Lawrence and I spent an interesting four weeks reading as many supernatural stories as possible. We quickly ruled out MR James as too obvious a choice and we also felt my old favourites like Blackwood and Machen from weirder end of the supernatural spectrum were not quite “Christmassy” enough. So ploughing through some more anthologies of obscure early twentieth century exponents of the genre we hit upon Sir Andrew Caldecott.
Andrew Caldecott was a colonial civil servant during the 1930’s serving as governor of Hong Kong and then Ceylon. Later in life during the 1940’s he began writing ghost stories, two anthologies of which were published, Not Exactly Ghosts and Fires Burn Bright. Caldecott’s post war fictional world is tweedy, polite and teetering on the brink of insanity. Although some of the tales follow the pattern and atmosphere of MR James, Caldecott generally stops short of the big reveal, and the supernatural agency in the stories is inferred by events. Horrifying questions linger in the mind, in a way that prefigures the more sophisticated stories of Robert Aickman.
One story in particular, His Name was Legion, stood out as having a great affinity for the Ghost Box world dealing as it does with a fake parish magazine, and spirit channelling through TV and radio equipment.
The story is in production now and will feature new music and sound by Belbury Poly. It will be broadcast at some point during the week before Christmas, I’ll post the exact time and dates and news of other contributors as soon as we have them.