Sunday, January 01, 2017

The Horsingdon Transmissions: Prologue

The Horsingdon Transmissions is a daily blog documenting the praeternatural goings-on in my particular corner of North West London, at one time known locally (for those of us old enough to remember) as the Horsingdon Triangle - although with the steady gentrification of the region, this term is now less-well remembered, and you won’t find it on any map (at least not the ones that Horsingdon Council have made publicly available).

The Horsingden Triangle constitutes a geographical area broadly circumscribed by a triumvirate of hills: Harlowe Hill (with its curious hillside graveyard); the witch-haunted Blackbird’s Cross (also know as Burn Hill); and Horsingdon Hill itself - once the site of an Iron Age hill fort, and from where, on a clear day, one can see the Home Counties of Surrey, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire (the villages of Dedham and Witchford are also, on occasion, visible from the very top of the hill). As I write, I can see from the window of my study Harlowe Hill, as well as the dreary outline of Northwich Park Hospital which rests at its base. An outpost of one of London's universities (where I once taught undergraduate courses in anthropology) sits next to the hospital.

As to the nature of the project, The Horsingdon Transmissions is comprised of  a melange of weird psychogeographical perambulations, eldritch fakelore, folkloric horror, unspeakable pseudo-myth, blasphemous local unhistory, aberrant half-truths, hauntological allusions, and Lovecraftian ostension regarding the parishes of this curious region - namely the (sub)urban zones which fall within the Horsingdon Triangle: Harlowe, Northwich (of which I have been a resident for most of my life), and the area around Horsingdon Hill itself. Whilst the borough of Horsingdon is now substantially urbanised, these Transmissions aim to tease out some of the shocking and unspeakable truths which lurk beneath the region's ancient landscape (albeit concealed by the prosaic veneer of metropolitan modernity), ultimately tracing an esoteric network of frightful correspondences that have spread further throughout the capital, perhaps revealing something more of the occulted Lovecraftian history of London - as well as some of the diverse horrors which lurk below the Dead-But-Dreaming Spires of Middle England.

The influences that underpin The Horsingdon Transmissions are many and varied: the folk horror of Tales from the Black Meadow,  Hookland and Arthur Machen are certainly evident, as are Ramsey Campbell's Cthulhu Mythos tales of Brichester and the Severn Valley. Cold War conspiracies - as reflected in the speculative sci-fi horror of Nigel Kneale - have also shaped the social history of the region, where the blocky architecture of military installations stand side-by-side with the remnants of ancient barrows. These elements also dovetail in often-unexpected ways with both the nihilistic corporate horror of Thomas Ligotti, and the sonic folk horrors of Matthew Bartlett. Similarly, the episodic horror of podcasts such as The Black TapesTanisWelcome to Nightvale - as well as Mr. Jim Moon's wonderful Hypnogoria – have also left their mark upon Horsingdon’s landscape. The Transmissions also offer hauntological reflections on how the spectre of 1970s creepy nostalgia continues to assert its influence on the uncanny topographies of contemporary British culture; indeed, I'd almost go as far to say that, in order to fully understand modern British horror, one needs to have experienced not only the griminess of that decade, but to have encountered first-hand the horrific televisual allure of British children’s television of the time. The 70s was also marked by a boom in popular paperbacks dealing with UFOs and the paranormal – topics that are also deeply entangled with The history and landscape of Horsingdon. In any case, if some or all of these things appeal to you, then you may find The Horsingdon Transmissions of interest.

Most of the places described in The Transmissions are very real – and the vast majority of accompanying photographs documenting them have been taken by me during my irresponsible wanderings throughout the alleyways, cul-de-sacs and green spaces of the borough of Horsingdon. The names,, however, have in many instances been changed in order to protect the unwary. As an additional proviso, The Horsingdon Transmissions is a work in progress: I have a busy daily schedule, so blog entries are written relatively swiftly, often with only a single quick editorial sweep before publishing. This means that grammatical and spelling mistakes may be more common than I would like – for which I seek your indulgence, kind reader. When and where possible, I do try to go back and re-edit earlier posts with a view to cleaning up wayward grammar and the like. However, this is not always possible – and my current intention is to subject all of the entries to further revision when the year is out, perhaps making the revised entries available in another format.

Followers of my previous daily blogging project – 2016's Lovecraftian Thing a Day - can rest assured of one thing: the spectre of that particular endeavour will continue to haunt this new project, as undoubtedly strange artefacts and curious tomes will reveal themselves as part of the year’s unfolding narrative. Die-hard fans can  anticipate its return in 2018. But for now, welcome to the first broadcast of The Horsingdon Transmissions, wherein you may find that there are some sounds which you can never unhear...

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