August 11, 2020

The Madness Never Ends

... I was sent out to to cover the usual kinds of everyday stories that fill all local papers. But I soon found that if I’d ask for details of the Scouts’ latest jumble sale, I’d end up being told about masked figures with spades seen digging in a Church graveyard at midnight....


Samuel Kully

“The Last Sane Man On The Island”

Due to Mr Kully's resistance to "Those damn computers", junior reporter Ganfer Haar Finn has been asked to place this report online.
– Ed!
Samuel Kully - The Last Sane Man On The Island

It may come as no surprise to regular readers that I was going to start my opinion-piece for this month by writing that the Silly Season has begun & the Tin-Foil Hat Brigade are once again out in force. Feel free to protest about my opinions on the Letters Page. You usually do.

But then I realised that we don’t have a Silly Season on the Isle of Wight.

On the island, woolly thinking & gibbering madness go on all year round.

This isn’t just a recent phenomenon. Lord knows millennials have a lot to answer for, but I blame their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents - ad nauseam.

I remember when I first moved here, long ago, in my early days as a junior reporter. I was sent out to cover the usual kinds of everyday stories that fill all local papers.

But I soon found that if I’d ask for details of the Scouts’ latest jumble sale, I’d end up being told about masked figures with spades seen digging in a Church graveyard at midnight.

When I tried to discover why an apparently simple application for planning permission was turned down, I’d be told “off the record” that the building work would have disrupted a layline.

I once inquired from birdwatchers as to which breeds were nesting this year, only to hear tales of their sightings of everything from floating globes of glowing elflight to subaquatic UFOs.

Not to mention the nonsense about the mocking laughter that drifts from the upper branches of the so-called Banetree.

I’ve often suspected they call ornithologists “twitchers” with good reason.

And yet the respectable ladies of the Women’s Institute were just as bad, with their insistence on always making jam at full moon, never holding a bring-and-buy sale if Mercury was in retrograde, and only buying butter if it had been marked with a five-pointed star.

My mind boggled on a regular basis.

There’s often a fine line between quaint eccentricity & the need for a decent psychiatrist.

I’ve now had decades of having to put up with my fellow islanders’ love of their “traditional folklore”, which seems to dominate every conceivable action in all walks of life.

Surely it isn’t normal to open a Summer Faire by circling the village green three times, widdershins, while scattering salt?

Some of the older residents still remember, with a queer look in their eye and perhaps just a hint of fearful glee, how the communions at one particular Church were conducted not by sharing the usual wine & wafers but with a twilight offering of honeycake & ale.

And for that matter, why on earth does the Lammastide General Meeting of the Gardens & Allotments Society always begin with the “Blessing of the Straw”? This is the modern age for goodness sake! Why are we still bothering to Hallow the Gallybaggers against the malicious whims of Corn Spirits?

I’ll admit that such traditional weakmindedness is probably harmless enough, despite some of the no doubt grossly exaggerated & occasionally rather luridly disturbing stories, but the seeming lack of critical thinking from certain inhabitants of the island baffles and infuriates me.

Naturally from time to time, “mysterious events” do indeed occur locally. Perhaps, rather more frequently than in most other places. But why does almost everyone immediately ascribe such occurrences to the dire influence of the supernatural, rather than assuming a perfectly rational, if admittedly unknown, cause?

I can only think there must be something in the island’s water. Or possibly buried deep in the soil. Some weird and uncanny influence that encourages the population to reject a logical materialistic analysis in favour of belief in the eerie tinkling of fairybells and the howls of restless ghosts in the haunted darkness of our collective subconscious.

Take the disappearance of those holidaymakers last summer. I’m sure you remember the tragic tale. Their car was found between Forelands and Whitecliff Bay. It was locked, with all their belongings inside. Naturally the police investigated but found no mark of any kind of violence. No signs of foul play. No footprints. No bodies. Just some large hoof prints, doubtless from a stray cow. The couple had simply vanished. Odd? Possibly. Sad? Probably. But that is all.

One night I happened to suggest to some elderly neighbours that, in all likelihood, the tourists had perhaps had a few too many drinks & accidentally fallen from the clifftop in the dark, where their bodies may have been washed out to sea. I’m not pretending I have any evidence to back up that theory, but it is at least is plausible.

Yet when I voiced that opinion I was looked at with scorn & derision as though I was severely intellectually-challenged, while the old folks exchanged furtive glances and muttered about “The Hairy Man Of Gog” and “Old Clop”.

So here I sit, writing my current epistle while casting a very weary eye over the latest batch of whispered rumours currently doing the rounds on the island this week.

I see that supposedly the moonlit meetings of the cursed Carisbrooke Coven are happening again, despite all of its alleged members having being killed over 300 years ago.

The crab catches of local fishermen are said to be in decline, apparently due to the ill will of the merfolk, who it seems still haven’t come to terms with the hovercraft.

At least three schools have reported that their permanently fearful children believe they are being terrorised by an indescribable thing that they call The Haunter In The Shade.

And the ever credulous members of the Shanklin Neighbourhood Watch claims to have seen something large and hairy overturning rubbish bins.

...And there it is. Pure poppycock.

Sometimes I really do think I am the only remaining “Voice of Reason” here.

Even most of my colleagues seem all too ready to accept that the wild-eyed fantasies of our more enthusiastic correspondents must have at least some base in reality. Hahaha.

Occasionally I think even our Beloved Editor only continues to employ me only as an act of charity toward someone he considers well-meaning but a bit simple-minded.

However, as long as he does, I will continue to try to shine the lucid light of logic into the engulfing darkness of eldritch superstition that is our beloved Isle of Wight.

I remain, yours truly,

Sam Kully,  The Last Sane Man On The Island

The Madness Never Ends