Chronicles,Folklore,Truth & Myths

The Black Horse Fairy Chronicles I

As investigated by Mark Clarkson

 

I recently traversed the 127 miles of towpath that form the Leeds & Liverpool Canal & my mind went a wandering.  Ley lines of the first industrial revolution, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal was forged & formed through the blood, sweat & tears of Irish navvies; these people seemingly created to chisel through the clay, soil, earth & stone; to live a short, rough & ready life, destined to dig, drink & die.

 

Stories of these people have mutated into myth, the magic of time blurring/bending the truth, throwing up from the soil ‘The Halsall Navvy’, a sculpture depicting the loss & effort these men & women incurred in creating the canal route.  Please note, on close inspection ‘The Halsall Navvy’ bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain Mr. Archie Blackwell.  Tales in the taverns of the North of England & Eire still abound to this day of a group of brigand navvies (led by the ferociously fierce & frightening renegade, Fanny Ferris);  their escapades attaining legendary status.   Ferris along with Messrs Blackwell, Doncaster, Gothic & Kundalini,  (all shape shifting time travellers) were (& still are) commonly known as Black Horse Fairy.

 

Whilst strolling through the canal basin at the infamous area known as Wigan Pier, I chanced upon a narrow boat registered in the name of Badger Sett,  (Photo below).  Further enquiries & local folklore say that the Badger Sett narrow-boat has been seen throughout the history of the Canal from its inception through to present day.  Archives first show a boat registered in this name moored in this vicinity in the 1780’s, however this specific story relates to February 1936, when a certain Eric Arthur Blair, (b–1903, d–1950), aka George Orwell, visited this area during what was to be his research for his 1937 book “The Road To Wigan Pier”.

 

Allegedly Orwell spent the month living in dirty lodgings over a tripe shop, visiting the homes of the Wigan district to see how the people lived.  However my research uncovered evidence to suggest that during this time Orwell joined the disparate band of vagabonds & travelling (chronological & geographical) troubadours who manifest themselves under the collective name  Black Horse Fairy.  He used this time & experience to fully understand his subject.

 

During a sojourn at his sister's home in Headingley, Leeds, Orwell visited the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth.  (Haworth is one of the spiritual homes of Black Horse Fairy, as well as being their geographical home circa 2013.)   He wrote of his visit to the museum that he was "chiefly impressed by a pair of Charlotte Brontë's cloth-topped boots, very small, with square toes and lacing up at the side”.

 

This visit also saw a further meeting with Ferris et al.  It is documented that this meeting laid the foundations for Orwell’s ill fated decision to join Ferris, Blackwell, Doncaster, Gothic & Kundalini in the ranks of the Black Horse Faction, an elite group of fighters within the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).  Orwell’s book ‘Homage to Catalonia’ fails to report (an attempt to protect the innocent perhaps) the exploits of the Black Horse Faction* in the Republican victory at Guadalajara (1937).

 

According to sources close to Orwell, he & the Faction were subsequently posted to Guernica, where history infers that sadly our intrepid heros (with the exception of Orwell) were lost in the Nazi/Franco bombing raids.  The painting Guernica by Pablo Picasso (1966) clearly depicts a Black Horse Fairy in the centre of the painting.  It must also be noted that at this time Orwell took what he believed to be a diary from the pockets of the apparently lifeless Blackwell.  This diary/manuscript was entitled 1984.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who knows when the Badger Sett will re-appear, those aboard seeking inspiration for their songs of love, horror, menace & madness?  All we do know is that they will re-surface in the most unexpected & most pertinent of times.  A heavy burden indeed!   But one which Black Horse Fairy carry off with some aplomb.*

 

Please note it was later discovered that Red Army Faction, a communist & anti-imperialist “urban guerrilla” group  (based in West Germany during the 1970’s, 80’s & 90’s) aimed to emulate the escapades of the (in)famous Black Horse Faction, so much so that they based the name of their group on the Spanish Civil War idols.

 

 

 

 

 

The Black Horse Fairy Chronicles II

As experienced by Mark Clarkson

 

 

 

 

And the Weary are at Rest’

 

The Black Bull Hotel, Haworth

November 23rd 2013

Black Horse Fairy Performance

 

At the mid set interval I fought my way through the horde of humanity to the latrine & whilst ‘doing my duty’ I chanced upon what I thought to be a Steam Punk doing likewise. Whereupon a polite, if uncomfortable, conversation took place.

 

He looked a little the worse for wear, (round rimmed glasses, ‘Lennonesque’, wild & windswept hair, receding slightly & whispy beard whiskers).   He spoke to me, his words delivered like a Gatling gun, coherent in speech, however his mutterings seemed out of context.  He asked if I had seen the band before, to which I replied in the positive. He spoke of his father Patrick, a preacher man who had told him as a child of a disparate band of time travelling troubadours, vagabonds & rebel rousers who’d performed a Luddite benefit gig at Shears Inn, Liversedge, in April 1812. They went under the collective name of Black Horse Fairy.

 

1812? I questioned.  Oblivious he continued.

 

He then stated that the melancholy music of love, horror, murder & menace to which we were bearing witness had inspired his art.  He recounted his favourite Black Horse Fairy musical performance to be in this very establishment in 1847. He quickly fumbled in his waistcoat pocket & showed me a sinister & haunting sketch.

 

1847? I questioned.

 

Again this fell on deaf ears.  He coughed & trembled and I asked him if he was alright.   He said he was going to visit the local druggist across the road.   I looked up & he was gone.

 

However he had left his mark, scratched into the wall above the urinal  -‘Branwell was here’.  I went back to enjoy the second set (somewhat confused) & then fell under the spell of the siren sound that is Black Horse Fairy.

When Harry met Fanny.

 

Mark Clarkson

 

HOUDINI'S  escapist antics symbolise the need for extrication from ‘normal’ life: through drink, drugs, music, religion & T.V., (it’s all the same to me). This need to believe, pay heed to the attitude that we’re better than them, this attitude that accentuates divisions & indecisions; an innate need/belief possibly fostered in all.   However for 'them' read 'us'.

 

Therefore it could be suggested that Erik, Erich or Harry (Weisz, Weiss or Houdini), (born 1874, died 1926) was a forerunner who promoted the individual promiscuity that came to prominence in the later decades of the twentieth century.

 

American-Hungarian Houdini’s famous Chinese water torture saw globalisation a go-go in the brave new world & the land of the free.  During his many European tours Houdini became a known cohort/contemporary & associate of a certain Mr. Archie Blackwell, (during his music hall years). Houdini also became an alleged confidant of Fanny Ferris during his 1920’s campaign to debunk false mediums & psychics; Ferris & Houdini’s swords crossed, Houdini falsely accusing Ferris of fabrication in the art/science of spiritualism. Fanny highlighted Houdini’s insinuations as unfounded & eventually they became firm friends; Fanny earning a personal apology from Houdini “for daring to even think such a thing never mind have the audacity to utter it”. Thus placating an indignant & irate Ferris, some say to this day that this was the greatest escape Houdini ever made.   It is alleged that the vagabond that is the Earl of Doncaster acted as agent in securing Houdini’s European Tours.   During his life Houdini failed to unlock the magic/mystery/mayhem & beauty that is Black Horse Fairy.

 

The Legend of the Irish

Black Horse Fairy

The Pooka (Puca) is an  Irish fairy, and one of the most feared.  He may have many guises and goes around after nightfall causing havoc and mischief.  It is said that one of his usual forms is that of a black horse with yellow eyes and a flowing mane.  In this form he will break down fences, scaring livestock and trampling crops.  In County Down he is said to take the form of a goblin and demands a share of crops from the farmers.  For this reason in this area there will often be a strip of the crop left after harvest, and this is known as the 'Pooka's share.'  

 

Of course, in Keighley, this fairy took the guise of a woman of the night and would often be found after nightfall creating havoc and mischief in the place she felt most at home - The Black Horse public house at the corner of Low Street and Market Street, which was destroyed by fire some years ago.  It is believed he has changed his guise many times since then, but is rumoured to have returned to the Keighley area.  Beware after nightfall.....

Bill of Mortality

August 1672

 

Talking to themselves....................1

Herbaceous border............................3

Undulation..................................................8

Dizzy Heights...........................................2

Sharp Intake.............................................7

Ennui.................................................................4

Wet Leg...........................................................14

Shame.................................................................30

Acting Daft...................................................9

Puppy Fat.......................................................2

Cross Stitch.................................................7

Hobnobbing..................................................32

Lazy Article...................................................4

Action Stations..........................................7

Trompe de l'oeuil.....................................43

Gravitas...............................................................9

Scapegoating..................................................320

Presumption....................................................11

Kaboss....................................................................12,368

 

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