Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The Horsingdon Transmissions 4: The Witching Tree

There is a tree that stands at the uttermost edge of Hallowmere Playing Fields.

I have overheard the older patrons of my local pub (which overlooks St. Ormund's) refer to it as the Witching Tree. When pressed on the matter, they refuse to say more. I have lived in the Horsingdon area for the better part of my life, and my family settled here three generations ago. But even that is not enough to erase my outsider status - a status consolidated by the fact of my departure from Northwich in the late 1980s, only to return 10 years later. An act of betrayal in the eyes of older residents.

It may seem strange that within (sub)urbanised Greater London, the seemingly archaic traditions of witchery endure; but no city truly possesses its own unique, modern character - each is just an conglomerate of older villages and outlier communities that, over time and out of necessity, have forged an artificial unity. Nonetheless, boundaries and buffer zones remain: each borough and district retains own dialect, regional culture, local history, and unique folkways and customs - all alien to outsiders (who may live no more than a street away). Identity remains tied to the specific dictates of cartographical, historical and mythological tradition.

Besides which, here in Horsingdon we are only even a crow's flight away from a rural spectrality against which the barrier of the M25 is powerless  There are also older and even worse secrets mired in the sewers and hidden catacombs beneath the capital's hub.

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