Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hoodoo business in Lewisham

As a birthday present to Transpontine contributor Skister, here's a link to a spooky story partially set in Lewisham. Rooum by Oliver Onions (1873-1961) tells of a man pursued by an invisible runner that can pass through his body. It includes an encounter in the local area: 'we were somewhere out south-east London way, just beyond what they are pleased to call the building-line - you know these districts of wretched trees and grimy fields and market gardens that are about the same to real country that a slum is to a town. It rained that night; rain was the most appropriate weather for the brickfields and sewage-farms and yards of old carts and railway-sleepers we were passing... We were walking in the direction of Lewisham (I think it would be), and were still a little way from that eruption of red-brick houses'.

Health warning - the story starts with some HP Lovecraft-style racism hinting at the exotic secrets of black people: 'something about him, name or both, always put me in mind, I can't tell you how, of negroes. As regards the name, I dare say it was something huggermugger in the mere sound - something that I classed, for no particular reason, with the dark and ignorant sort of words such as "obi" and "Hoo-doo"'. Probably not untypical sentiments for a white writer in 1910 (when the story was first published), but certainly jarring to the modern reader.

Anyway you can read the full story here.

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