Night and Fog Are My Days

Published Categorised as Art & Design, Books, History, Life in General No Comments on Night and Fog Are My Days

Happy Christ­mas, if you celeb­rate it.

I was brought up unre­li­gious, by unbe­liev­ing parents, in a not very reli­gious coun­try, and there are no young chil­dren in my imme­di­ate family, so I’m not that fussed about Christ­mas these days (and as I live in a Tier 4 lock­down area, all my plans had to be cancelled this year – I suppose I have pure despair at the state of the Tory-run disaster zone I’m living in to keep me occu­pied). However I also grew up in Wick­er Man Land (ie Kent), so I love spooky Yule stuff.

(The deer illus­tra­tion is by me – you can order a print here, if you so wish)

M.R. James

Christ­mas is the tradi­tion­al time for ghost stor­ies from MR James, the Edwar­d­i­an master of the psycho­lo­gic­al horror story. He was an other­wise staid and some­what reac­tion­ary academ­ic, who used to hold a Christ­mas party every year where he’d try out his new tales on an audi­ence. Most of them revolve around a research­er of some kind, a histor­i­an or archae­olo­gist or post­grad student, who visits an isol­ated or back­wa­ter place, and finds them­selves slowly enter­ing a paranor­mal night­mare, often connec­ted with some cursed arte­fact.

Due to the fact that the stor­ies are now over a century old, you can read them online for free. Guten­burg Project Canada has them here as either a webpage or ebook files to down­load.



Here’s a BBC adapt­a­tion from a few years ago, direc­ted by Mark Gatiss, that sets the story in the 50s rather than the Edwar­d­i­an era. (The other epis­odes aren’t in iPlay­er this year, but this one is on Youtube in full)

The Dark is Rising

A clas­sic eerie children’s book set on the 22nd of Decem­ber. Features loom­ing trees creep­ing up at the edge of your field of vision, sinis­ter birds and Herne the Hunter. There’s an abso­lutely appalling film version, one of the worst book adapt­a­tions I’ve ever seen. Don’t watch that, stick to the book.


Mercury Rev also did an album inspired by the book, includ­ing a song named after it.

The Box of Delights

This was repeated pretty much every Christ­mas when I was grow­ing up- 1930s chil­dren are given a magic box to hide from the bad guys who are after it, and have an assort­ment of adven­tures with char­ac­ters like Pan and King Arthur. The villain is an incred­ible ham who disguises himself as a vicar, and the whole thing is incred­ibly 80s BBC teatime full ham and dodgy special effects that were state of the art in 1984. I doubt it’s repeated now, but the epis­odes have been pulled from Youtube for copy­right.

It’s based on a book from the 1930s that is also out of copy­right in many coun­tries and can be read for free online as either a webpage or down­load.

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