November. The clocks have gone back, the nights are long and the trees are bare. The golden light of autumn has faded and the year is closing in on itself, settling down for the winter. Christmas glitters on the horizon like a promise. You pull the curtains closed against the night and draw closer to the fire. Time for a story.
Ten of us gathered around the fire last night at Julie’s house in Forest Hill, to share good food, mulled wine and spooky stories. Angie Macdonald took the story chair first, to chill us with her ghostly childhood memories in The Man in the Mirror. Suitably chilled, we warmed up with hot pumpkin soup and spicy chicken, before heading back for more.
Andrew Lukas horrified us with an extract from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Narrative of the Life of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. The ship of ghouls sailed full steam ahead, through the long night. Fiona Lukas followed with a short but chilling poem by Keats, This Living Hand. Then I took the story seat for a story inspired by a rattlesnake rattle, suitably called Rattled.
Charlotte Peden brought us American gothic, with a menacing extract from Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find. Finally, Angus Walker read his accomplished, very funny piece The Thing in the Cupboard Under The Sink, which I’m still thinking about a day later. Maybe it’s time for a clear-out of that cupboard – if I dare.
Then it was time for ginger cake, chocolate brownies, mulled wine and chat, to chase away the ghosts we’d conjured. Tales told in November are incantations. They ward off evil by giving us a glimpse of it, out of the corner of our eye. I think last night will keep us safe through the winter.