Friday, 23 July 2010

Flat caps and ancient rites (by Andrew Wooding)

You may remember that after Mike and I conducted an extensive and detailed search for the ghost of Mary Queen of Scots on the Manor Ruins in Sheffield (we lasted about 9½ minutes – read about it here), we decided to retire to an establishment serving beverages of a fermented variety (otherwise known as a pub).

This we did. Mike’s choice of poison was an Orange and Passion Fruit J2O. Mine was an obscure German beer that cost an arm and a leg, as well as the best part of a fiver.

We retired to a dark corner to debrief about our failure to find old Queen Mary and to plan our next move. But we couldn’t help but be distracted by the conversation at the table opposite.

Sitting at said table were two elderly Yorkshiremen with flat caps and jackets, both of them hugging frothy pints of bitter while sharing a bag of pork scratchings. They looked harmless enough, and from their looks you might expect that they were nattering about whippets, or racing pigeons, or Hovis, or the Tetley tea folk.

Imagine our astonishment, then, when certain words or phrases wafted across from their vocal cords into our earlobes: ‘ancient rituals’; ‘druids at Stonehenge’; ‘the power of the Norse gods’.

Mike and I gave each other a troubled glance, then promptly shut our traps so that we could listen more intently. But how to be nosy at such close proximity without making it seem obvious? We adopted different strategies.

Mike stared up at the ceiling, pretending to study a stain (or something) in great detail. Me, I bent over to tie up my shoelaces. Took me about fifteen minutes.

During the course of our non-suspicious eavesdropping, we learnt of illicit nocturnal encounters of the earth-worshipping variety in the forests of Sheffield; nearby covens of witches, Wiccans and whippets (well, maybe not the whippets); and things you can do in circles of stones that boggle the mind.

These lurid revelations eventually proved too much for our frail sensibilities, so I finished tying my shoelaces (which was a feat in itself because my trainers are fastened with Velcro), Mike painfully cricked his neck back into place, and we staggered out the pub back door into the crisp night air.

If you happen to stumble across this new brand of Yorkshire pagans (we call them the ‘Flatcappians’), don’t say we didn’t warn you. The shock might prove too much, and you’ll need a strong mug of Tetley tea and a pack of Hovis digestives to calm you down.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Competition extended!

From Mike Kazybrid’s recent interview with Rony Robinson on BBC Radio Sheffield:

Rony: Have you seen any good ghosts lately?

Mike: No.

Rony: Have you ever seen a ghost?

Mike: Erm … no.

Rony: Isn’t it a bit odd to be a hunter of ghosts if you’ve never seen one?

Mike: (mumbles a half-hearted embarrassed defence)

As you can see, Rony rumbled us immediately, live on air, and Mike’s insightful, eloquent and well-thought-out responses did little to convince him. So, if we haven’t found any ghosts yet, we need you to tell us about your ghost encounters. Doesn’t have to be long – just a sentence or two. Either comment at the bottom of this blog, or bung us an email at

Out of all the stories received, we’ll turn our favourite into a comic strip, like the one above which relates to our adventure in Bunting Nook (you can read about it here and here). For more examples of Mike’s excellent artwork, see his latest graphic novel about the legendary Humph the Cat, completely free to download here.

Just imagine, your story can be illustrated by a top UK artist (Mike is currently drawing the Wallace & Gromit strip for The Sun), and you will also receive his original artwork through the post, signed personally to you.

Our original deadline for this competition was the end of June, but we so love reading your stories (they turn us green with envy) that we’ve extended the deadline to the end of the summer hols (last day of August). Many thanks for Martin Dawes of The Star for promoting our competition here.

Please get scribbling and scare us with your true-life tales!