LISTEN to the voices, by the fireside. They may be as crazy as a box of frogs, but the world outside is no better for your mind, as darkness settles in with winter's chill.
Another world is waiting for you now.
This is the world of Bizarre Fables.
ABOUT US -
TRUE collaboration is often a strange business and in the case of the "Bizarre Fables" collaboration between my wife, Heather E. Geddes and myself, it was founded as much upon dreams and visions as it was upon discussion. We were newly-weds then, living in a farm bungalow, in rural Herefordshire, England.
We shared our visions, day after day and night after night, while the owls hooted incessantly from nearby trees and barns.
For us it was an enchanted and creative time. I would write and Heather would draw and paint, while the plots developed organically, naturally, as we talked. From Heather, for instance, came the idea of a gross man who would find himself pregnant, - the theme of "Bread for Toggle". From Heather, also, came the idea of a powerful old woman whose soul was captured in a box that was then bound tight with briar. She actually dreamed this, and I was so inspired by her dream I set about writing at once. This, of course, was the origin of "Grandma's Soul". There were other strange happenings surrounding the genesis of these tales. The story called "The Blossom Maker" was written in two hours flat, almost as if I were taking dictation from a spirit.
Heather and I used to enjoy drinking wine in the little orchard by the bungalow, and the blossom on the trees, during our first spring there as man and wife, wasn't pinkish - it was actually shining white - quite unusual and remarkable, and it sagged down from the branches in weighty clusters. I was looking at this blossom and knew, by instinct, that a story needed to be written. I rose and explained this to Heather; I walked back to the bungalow and started to type. Two hours later, virtually without the need of a single correction, the story was finished.
We were so inspired in those days, it is perhaps a valid question to ask why more tales were not created. I suppose the only answer I can give is that they came as if by magic, and magic must always have a beginning and an end. Its power is a blessing, but it is finite.
The Dead awake
Then it was always night on the Earth. The people of that far time were terrified and stayed indoors, about their twig-fire blazes. Only the dead enjoyed the lasting dark. They smelt the settling dew in all that stillness, and one by one they left their tombs to wander.
At first, the living would only see glowing shapes of mist, which moved past the windows. Sometimes there were sighs and sometimes whispers. Sometimes there was even a tiny knock on the door.
Soon the cold and darkness nourished the dead and gave them back the shapes they had in life, if not the voices.
In the streets where nobody drew breath, phantom merchants would talk of trade and loss in wormy accents. Ghostly children, their trebles like seagulls crying, would dance around the village cross and sing of an awful plague, which took their lives so long ago…
The Christmas Journey
That great character actor, Sam Kelly, well known for his performances in 'Allo 'Allo! and Porridge, and my wife, Heather, became great friends during Heather's spell as a professional theatrical costume maker and designer. Shortly after our marriage, Heather asked Sam if he would read and give his opinion on the emerging draft of Bizarre Fables. To my relief, he was impressed and, better still, offered to record three of his favourite tales from the collection. We give the first one here, "The Christmas Journey," and I suppose Sam's choice reveals his enduring love of Christmas. We will always be grateful for Sam for giving three such great performances, in support of the Bizarre Fables project. He did the recordings at his own home, and was apologetic about the occasional "clicks" from his tape recorder. He need not have apologised - we loved the recordings, because he did such a wonderful job. Sadly, Sam passed away in 2014 and is greatly missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing him.