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Phantoms at the Phil [Jan. 5th, 2018|12:42 pm]
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Once again, we gathered last night in the magnificent library of the Lit & Phil to hear a trio of new ghost stories read by their authors; once again, the technically ghost stories were outnumbered by the miscellaneously chilling, and once again this didn't matter in the least - in fact, last night's clutch of spooky tales was a particularly good one.

First readers was guest apparition Shelley Day, who explained that her story, Billy and the Cart Shed, was something she had started several years ago, and never been able to finish. The invitation to appear at Phantoms made her realise that what it needed was a ghost. I wonder how many other unfinished tales are just waiting for that crucial ingredient? The story was double haunted, because it was set several generations back, in the Ouseburn (the 'cart shed' of the title is under one of the arches of the railway): the descriptions of that squalid and impoverished area were overlaid in my mind with the gentrified arts quarter it is today.

Sean O'Brien's Holly and Ivy was delivered with the warning that "they" had required that it contain absolutely no flaying. This appalling restriction - no flaying, no dismemberment, no gore of any kind - had inspired him to a seasonal tale of snow, family disharmony and carol singers, a piece of freshly invented folklore. "They" (who turn out to be Candlestick Press) are to be congratulated on their part in one of Sean's best Phantoms tales.

Gail-Nina Anderson wrapped up the evening with a tribute to a text first published two hundred years ago, to the week if not to the day: An Eye for a Giant Eyeball warns the unwary that eBay has its dangers, and that little old ladies are not to be trusted.

After which we drifted into Mario's in Pudding Chare, where four of us dined in solitary splendour. I believe that Mario's does get busy during the day - and it should, because it's good value and friendly service - but we seem to be the only people who go there at the end of the evening.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.