Tag Archives: Reverend Davies

Reverend Davies is with us

We have a longstanding habit of borrowing people’s faces – partly because creating individual background characters can be hard work. Partly because including people we like in the project is always a lot of fun.

Reverend Davies was not based on any real people. However, he’s going to be in the silent film as a character, and this means an actual person will be playing him. That will be John Bassett, who has also done a lot of work developing the script and sorting out practical stuff alongside Tom.

This wasn’t planned as a photo shoot. we just realised that real people who were featured in the art would be coming in, and then realised that as Mr Bassett was in the building, we could get him to pose with Reverend Davies…

Cometh The Hour…

Reverend Davies was not a happy man. This, in itself, was not particularly unusual, but the Reverend was a man with problems. Since Marjorie Toadsmoor had foolishly managed to get herself killed, some of the more physical aspects of her teaching role at the Pallid Rock Orphanage had undeniably suffered. Admittedly, her ghost was still there, and available to conduct lessons, but her obvious lack of physicality had a somewhat detrimental effect on maintaining class discipline. The same could be said of Miss Calder’s ghost, but at least her habit of allowing her face to become occasionally skeletal had the effect of concentrating (not to say terrifying) the average juvenile mind. If the place had to be run by ghosts, why couldn’t they be more like old Obadiah Hyde, the Mad Parson of Chapel Rock, who scared the life out of everyone, including the Reverend?
Another matter that worried Reverend Davies was the fact that he was perceived by many to be a spiritual leader, someone equipped to explain the mystery of what lay beyond the veil of death. It was embarrassing! Here he was, surrounded by ghosts who had no more idea of what happens next than he did. If the dead could not explain the afterlife, how could he be expected to?

Setting these thoughts to one side, the Reverend returned to his original problem of having to recruit help at the orphanage. The task of finding teaching staff had never been an easy one. There are a number of skills required for the education and control of the young which, like so many things, seem to be in short supply on Hopeless. Undeterred, however, Reverend Davies resolutely put on his hat and jacket and set off in search of someone – anyone – to fill the vacancy.

Passing The Squid and Teapot, it occurred to the Reverend that this very establishment could well be the answer to his prayers (this is, of course purely a figure of speech, as the Reverend was not given to a great deal of praying, except as a necessary public show of piety now and then). The Squid was always full of idlers propping up the bar, or gullible new arrivals to the island who might be persuaded to spend a few hours each day in the company of the young and impressionable.

Bartholomew Middlestreet was not Reverend Davies’ greatest fan, and when he saw the pastor’s cadaverous form sliding through the doorway, not particularly resplendent in a faded black frock coat and battered hat, he guessed that he was after something.
Instead of going to the bar, the Reverend stood in the centre of the room and eyed the clientele with the air of a recruiting sergeant, eager to hand the king’s shilling to some unwary yokel. The long-term patrons of the inn knew that look of old. It usually meant that the Rev, as he was unaffectionately known, was looking for help. Past experience told them that his concept of help usually called for hard work and little reward, so it was a good idea to avoid catching his eye at all costs.
Only one man seemed not to be studying his drink, his boots, or some invisible blemish on the wall, and Reverend Davies’ gimlet eye caught him with the pinpoint accuracy of a raptor. He was a slightly built character, with sharp features and closely cropped dark hair. He wore black, from head to toe, except for the unmistakeable rectangle of white collar that marked him out as a man of the cloth.
“Good afternoon Reverend,” he boomed, in surprisingly loud tones. “I hear that you’re looking for help at the orphanage.”
There was the faintest trace of an Irish lilt to his voice.
“Good Lord! How did you know that?” asked Reverend Davies, somewhat taken aback.
“The good lord had little to do with it, but there’s not much goes on in any community that isn’t common knowledge in the pub.”
The newcomer extended a hand,
“I’m Father Ignatius Stamage, new to this strange little island of yours, made truly welcome by mine host over there, Mr Middlestreet. I’d be happy to help.”

A small cloud of doubt passed through Reverend Davies’ mind. Although his own brand of religion was not hitched to any particular branch of the church, he was fairly sure that he was not, and never had been, a catholic. It could cause problems. The priest’s help would be very welcome, but what if the two men found that they had profound theological differences of opinion? What then?
It only took a few moments for Reverend Davies to remember that he had few, if indeed any, deeply held theological opinions worth disagreeing with, so this would certainly not be an obstacle to ecumenical harmony. What could possibly go wrong?
Summoning a strained grimace that he fondly believed to be a smile, the Reverend grasped the priest’s outstretched hand and shook it vigorously.
“Thank you Father,” he said, “the Pallid Rock Orphanage will be most pleased to welcome you.”

When the pair had left, Bartholomew Middlestreet banged on the kitchen door and called,
“It’s alright Philomena, you can come out now. They’ve gone.”
Hesitantly Philomena Bucket peeped around the door.
“Thank goodness for that,” she exclaimed, “I can’t abide priests or vicars at the best of times, but that one… well, the minute I opened me mouth he’d clock that I came from the Old Country, and next thing is, he’d be asking me when was the last time I went to confession.”
“And when was that?” Bartholomew asked, mischievously.
Philomena did not answer. She was staring out of the window, watching the two black-clad figures as they disappeared along the road.
“There’ll be trouble,” she said, shaking her head. “I can feel it in me bones. Mark my words, there’ll be trouble.”

The Sleeper

Reverend Davies stood frozen in his tracks. Just a moment before he had been walking purposefully along the shoreline, attempting to compose the text of his next sermon. He found that a misty morning walk, with the angry ocean and barren rocks as a backdrop, was often helpful in inspiring him to bring the wrath and harsh judgement of the Old Testament to vivid life, for the benefit of the parishioners of Hopeless, Maine. His reason for stopping in mid-stride, and abandoning his musings on some of the least pleasant aspects of the book of Deuteronomy, was the sight of an ominous dark shape lurking low in the water, just a few yards away from where he was standing.
Minutes passed, and Reverend Davies, who dared not move or remove his gaze from the nameless menace, was developing cramp in his left leg. Convinced that the thing was biding its time before rushing up from the sea to drag him to his doom, he bore the agony like a martyr, and kept perfectly still, silently wincing with pain. I have no idea how long he could have maintained this position, but fortunately the incoming tide produced a particularly large wave which propelled the mysterious creature on to the beach, while, at the same time, liberally showering the Reverend with spray.

Banging his foot on the ground to relieve the cramp, the Reverend looked about him anxiously to see if anyone had witnessed his actions, or lack thereof. He felt a little embarrassed that he had confused a plank of wood with some deadly denizen of the deep. When it was clear that the plank held no threat, he decided to make a closer inspection. This appeared to be no ordinary plank. It was huge; a good eight feet long, ten inches wide, about six inches deep, and blackened with age. Emboldened now, he gave it a push with his foot, but found it difficult to shift; the thing was unbelievably heavy! How it had floated was beyond the Reverend’s understanding. “Maybe,” he thought aloud, “that is why it lay so low in the water.”
His sermon temporarily forgotten, Reverend Davies decided that this plank, or whatever it was, would be an ideal replacement for the lintel that sat over the front door of the orphanage, a worm-eaten piece of oak that had seen better days and needed replacing.

What he had discovered was, of course, a railway sleeper. He can be forgiven for not knowing this, as only a tiny handful of people living on the island would have seen, or even registered the existence of, such a thing as a railway, let alone a sleeper. Railway sleepers which are no longer needed are invariably recycled in some way, and this, it would appear, was the plan for this particular specimen. One other thing, of which the Reverend was blissfully ignorant, was that the sleeper he had destined to support the wall above the orphanage’s front door, had been formerly transported by ship. In the course of the voyage a terrified crew, with the help of their skipper, had unceremoniously jettisoned it overboard.

It took four strong men to remove the sleeper from the beach and deliver it to the orphanage. They lay it on the ground outside, where it would remain until needed, for while the plan to replace the old lintel was, doubtless, a good one, the Reverend had not appreciated the enormity of the task. The double doors would have to be removed and the walls would need supporting when the old lintel was pulled out. Failure to do this would almost certainly result in the front of the building collapsing. This needed much planning, and planning took time.

A week or so passed. A pallid full moon gazed down on Hopeless through the ribbons of fog, and saw Miss Calder flitting around the outside of the orphanage, hoping, no doubt, to ‘accidentally’ cross paths with Rhys Cranham, the Night-Soil Man. She was fully aware that her feelings were irrational and could never be realised. Miss Calder had been dead for some years, and though a ghost, she entertained certain unaccountable yearnings for the Night-Soil Man. For his part, Rhys did not mind, for his was a lonely life, and, despite being a wraith, Miss Calder was surprisingly good company. Like Drury, the skeletal hound, she had not allowed the inconvenience of death to interfere with her participating fully in island life, and had continued to oversee the smooth running of the orphanage in an exemplary fashion.

Unexpectedly, a noise which Miss Calder first thought to have been the death agonies of some huge creature, rent the quiet of the island. Here and there lights appeared in nearby windows and pale, frightened faces gazed into the darkness. Reverend Davies, resplendent in a long, striped nightshirt and pink bed-socks, appeared on the doorstep of the orphanage, while Miss Marjorie Toadsmoor, their newest teacher, peeped timidly from the window of her attic room. The unearthly scream ripped through the air again and suddenly, bursting from nowhere, came the apparition of a massive steam engine, ghastly and shimmering with an awful luminescence. The faces of the driver and fireman could be clearly seen, contorted in terror as they frantically tried to bring the engine under control. Following helplessly behind were a dozen carriages, within which the bodies of their passengers were being tossed around as if they were rag-dolls. The onlookers stood transfixed as the phantom engine rolled like some stricken leviathan, falling clumsily on to its side and taking the carriages with it. The noise was deafening as it crashed into unseen obstacles, breaking down trees and buildings that were never there… then it was gone, and there was silence.
For most of us, such a sight would be traumatising, to say the very least. For the inhabitants of Hopeless, not so much. For them, the majority of hauntings are just regarded as one minor cause for concern in lives fraught with greater worries. They would be talked about in complaining tones the next day and, afterwards, mentally filed under ‘Nuisance Apparitions’. This particular apparition, however, was larger and noisier than most. Although lights were soon being doused and people went back to bed, there would be questions asked as to the origin of this particular disturbance, and, doubtless, blame to be attributed.

“What in Heaven’s name was that?” asked Reverend Davies, carefully picking his way over the cobbles to where Miss Calder stood.
“I have no idea, Reverend,” admitted Miss Calder, “But whatever it was, it has no place on this island, I’m sure.”
“I think I might know what it is that we have just witnessed.”
It was Marjorie Toadsmoor, an overcoat wrapped over her nightgown.
Marjorie had found herself mysteriously transported to Hopeless from Victorian Oxford some months before. The details of her previous life were shadowy and dim, but the sight of the ghost train had awoken some vague memory within her.
“I believe that was, what is commonly known as, a steam engine, pulling a train of carriages behind it… ”
“It sure was ma’am.”
Everyone turned to see where this new voice had come from.
The eerie shapes of the engine’s driver and fireman hovered unsteadily over the railway sleeper, as it lay on the stony ground.
“That there’s the Old 97, eternally doomed to haunt this old sleeper which brung it off the rails,” said the soot-grimed fireman.
The wraith who had been the driver – or, more properly, the engineer – was more than grimy; he looked to be badly burned.
“The last thing I remember,” he said, “we was going down the track making, ooh, must have been ninety miles an hour, when the whistle broke into a scream.”
“He was found in the wreck with his hand on the throttle,” volunteered the fireman, shaking his head sadly.
“Oh, you poor man,” wailed Miss Calder. “It looks as though you were scalded to death by the steam.”
“Well, that’s as maybe,” said Reverend Davies, briskly, “but we can’t be putting up with that racket all the time. How often is this likely to happen?”
“We manifest every full moon. The last time we did, we were on a ship. You should have seen their faces,” said the fireman, smiling at the memory.
“Indeed,” said Miss Calder, “but every full moon? Honestly! I don’t understand why some hauntings have to be so unoriginal. I make myself available day and night, all year round.”
The ghosts of the engineer and fireman said nothing, but silently retreated, somewhat shamefaced, back into the ethereal depths of the sleeper.
“It has to go,” said Reverend Davies firmly.

The following morning the sleeper was taken to Scilly Point, where the water was particularly deep. The little party, overseen by Reverend Davies, rolled it, with some difficulty, into the ocean, then they stood on the headland to watch it being taken away from the island by the receding tide.
“A pity about the lintel,” thought the Reverend, “but at least we won’t have to put up with that again.”

There is a popular saying that time and tide waits for no man. While this may be true, unlike time, which is fleeting, high tides and low tides occur regularly, twice each day. That which is carried out is often returned twelve hours or so later, but not necessarily at the same spot. This is especially true of an island which occasionally decides to change its shape without a ‘by your leave’, as does Hopeless.

Seth Washwell looked at the long, dark piece of wood sitting on the beach with obvious appreciation.
“What a great piece of timber,” he thought to himself. “I’ll get the guys to drag it back to the sawmill, I know exactly what to do with it, once it’s been cleaned up a bit and sawn into shape.”

It was around three weeks later that Reverend Davies was both surprised and delighted to receive the gift of a bespoke, single-seat church pew. This had been donated with the compliments of the Washwell Sawmills and Joinery, an establishment situated on the far side of the island. In fact, so pleased was the Reverend that he decided not to install the seat in the church, but rather keep it in his study at the orphanage, where he frequently worked late into the night, burning the midnight oil. With a couple of cushions it would make an excellent replacement for his chair, which, after years of wear, was falling apart.
As I have said, so many times in these tales, what could possibly go wrong?

Reverend Davies

Reverend Davies is the father of Owen Davies. He runs the Pallid Rock orphanage, and has a church. Although quite who the church is dedicated to, it may be better not to ask. It features an organ powered by live fish, and there may be a small Elder God living in the rafters.

This piece is set  around Sinners, at which point Reverend Davies has, through a mix of bad luck and his own actions, lost the people who mattered most to him…

The worst feature of grief

Is how things you used to loathe

Begin to haunt you

How your wife fussed over you

Moved things so that you

Could not put your hands on them

The precise way she had

Of closing a door too sharply.

Her only show of anger.

 

The way your son fiddled

Relentlessly, with everything

His insolence, his answering back

His total inability to leave

His dirty socks in a laundry basket

The things of his you sat on.

 

The indecent way she had

Of looking at you, sometimes.

How her mischief enraged you

When it tugged the corner of her mouth.

 

They are gone now

The things you used to loathe

Torture you most, I find.

The boyish, tuneless whistle

I would sell my soul to hear again.

Never to have my collar adjusted

By gentle, affectionate fingers

Never again to be laughed at

By the woman I most wronged.

 

What richness I had

When I thought myself ill-treated.

Goole, in tribute to a lost genius

By Reverend Davies

He was a rare and remarkable being, and it may for once be fair to say ‘we shall never see his like again’.

The first time I encountered Goole, I had gone to the sea, feeling a personal need to shout the names of the lost, at the water. There are so many whose fates remain uncertain, and I find those so much harder to bear than the ones I am able to properly bury. I was deep in grief. And then, there came to me a most remarkable sound. A song of hope and aspiration, of determination, underpinned by a willingness to take joy in whatever small goodness this cruel world offers. It stopped me in my tracks.

Goole later told me that this is because I had experienced a ‘showstopper’. I’d not heard the term before, but it will live on with me, and keep me alert to those rare, precious moments when life itself pauses in this way.

That he was some sort of bird never seemed that important. That he spoke with human dignity mattered far more to me. That he was there on those days of grief when all I could do was shout at the sea. There have been many such days. How many times did his generous songs lift my battered soul on its wings?

We lack for beautiful music here. Rare indeed is the voice that can move me, or the song that can penetrate my heart. He had those. I will miss him dreadfully. In the end he died a pointless, foolish death, caught by a gust of wind and dashed against the cliffs. In his final moments I heard him call out ‘oh, here we go again’.  The incoming tide took his body. I will shout his name at the sea.

 

(Goole came to Hopeless from the magical dales of Matlock the Hare. Reverend Davies is the only sentient being ever to have appreciated Goole’s singing. Find out more about Matlock the Hare here – https://www.matlockthehare.com/

Paul Davies has spread himself too thinly

By Frampton Jones

Come to the firework display, he said. Bring your children, he said. It will be fun.

While for most children this won’t have been the first experience of seeing a person die horribly, it’s always that bit harder to deal with when you’ve promised them an entertaining night out.

Miss Calder, of the Pallid Rock Orphanage was furious after Paul Davies’ firework display turned into a shower of human remains. “He’s done this before, but never exploded himself in the past. It’s just not good enough. If he comes back from the dead, I certainly won’t be taking any more orphans to see his displays.”

As a cousin of Reverend Davies, Paul Davies had a long history of providing amusement to the inmates at the orphanage. His various skills with combustible substances had, in the past, made him popular with children and adults alike. However, his final show left an unpleasant taste in our mouths. In many cases, literally.

Some effort was made after the event to scrape up the remains and collect them, but most of the people covered in bits of Paul Davies were keen to remove the carnage and less concerned about where it ended up. Some of him was definitely licked up by a small dog. A jug of material was gathered.

Reverend Davies said, “It will be rather undignified trying to provide a proper funeral for a jug of goo, but needs must.”

When asked if he would miss his cousin, he thought for a little while and said, “No.”

Edward L Moore’s death is more troubling than we are used to

By Frampton Jones

When Edward L Moore Jr came to the island, he spoke of service to the Lord. That was about six months ago, and for some of us, myself most assuredly included, this gradually raised questions.

It was rapidly clear that Reverend Davies did not like it when Edward spoke about serving the Lord. It seemed like professional resentment. The post of Reverend to Hopeless Maine has been handed down carefully over the years, with each man who passes picking the man who will follow on from him and handing over whatever secrets are intrinsic to the job. I know that there are secrets, that much has been alluded to, but no more, or it would largely defeat the object.

It became apparent that Edward L Moore Jr had a rather low opinion of our resident Reverend. This first appeared in the traditional way – loud arguments with the Reverend outside his church. Matters of theology, interpretation and tradition that were largely lost on those of us in earshot, but the intensity of the exchange could not be mistaken. In following weeks I became aware of a single, crucial fact – that the two gentlemen profess allegiance to two wholly different entities, both being addressed as ‘The Lord’ and both being deeply troubled by the other as a consequence.

And while survival is often the only measure of winning we have on this island, I am not sure it is fair to say that Reverend Davies has won, even though he has survived.

Last Sunday morning, many of us were gathered in the church as is usually the way of it. Most of us attend from habit rather than any particular belief, and because it is entertaining to discover what Reverend Davies is angry about this time. Some of us go along in the hopes of catching a few tunes from Edrie and the organ – although Reverend Davies tries to discourage this.

Edward entered the church, shouting at Reverend Davies that he serves evil and should choose a different path. Reverend Davies shouted back that it was unacceptable to come shouting thus into the house of the Lord, and that he was the only person entitled to shout angry things in this building, which he then proceeded to do – to the great entertainment of his congregation. It might have been a delightful morning, had things not taken a grisly turn.

A cluster of tentacles descended swiftly from the gloom of the church rafters, wrapped themselves around Edward L Moore’s form, and carried him away. It was a sudden, silent horror, and we sat frozen in the awe and awfulness of it all. He is gone. He may in fact have won his argument at the expense of his own life.

It is not the first time we have had cause to wonder who or what we reverence if we sit in Reverend Davies’ church. The Lord, he tells us, is dead and dreaming.  The material world is cursed and evil. Only the spirit can prevail. Are there always tentacles in the roof, waiting for those who disagree too enthusiastically? Perhaps there is good reason that traditionally we argue with Reverend Davies outside.

What does Reverend Davies believe?

Readers of Hopeless Maine will be familiar with the gloomy figure of the island’s Reverend – Emmanuel Davies. He’s father of Owen (one of the main characters, for those of you new to this). He raises orphans, holds funerals, owns clothing clearly designed for ritual purpose. Sometimes he talks about God, but which God isn’t always clear.

That he is a Reverend certainly suggests Christianity. But it’s not that simple. He existed as a character, created by Tom, when I took the story on. At that point, we didn’t know much about the Reverend. All I had to go on were the New England Reverends I’d encountered in the writing of Nathaniel Hawthorn, so I started from there. Frankly, that was a gothic and sinister sort of place to start.

If you’ve read The Gathering, you’ll be aware of a short story at the back, about Reverend Davies’ first hours in the job. It suggests a rather different kind of religious background. I admit there have also been times when I’ve wondered if he might be an unwitting Cthulhu worshipper, or otherwise accidentally involved with elder gods. I know there have been plenty of long, sleepless night when the Reverend himself has stared into the darkness and wondered what exactly it is that he serves, or whether it is all in his mind. I know that he hears voices, and some of those voices tell him what to do, and that while he is compelled, he is also uneasy.

In practice, what Reverened Davies believes has a somewhat Zoroastrian flavour. In an island full of lost things, it makes plenty of sense to have someone with a bit of Albigensian heresy to their name. Davies believes that the physical realm is mostly fallen, sinful, probably evil and when you look at Hopeless, Maine, it’s easy to see why he might think this. God is somewhere else, clearly. If there is a good God, they are distant, unavailable, perhaps entirely in a realm of spirit you can only get to by totally renouncing all things of the flesh. Most of the time this means the Reverend is of limited use to anyone else.

Reverend Davies is a man in spiritual crisis, wrangling with the demons of his own uncertainty. It hasn’t yet occurred to him to get out there and wrangle actual demons instead, but the seed of this thought is growing in his mind…

Here’s Reverend Davies with Anamarie Nightshade having a Pre Raphaelite  moment. If this makes you wonder about the history of their relationship, keeping wondering…

We’ve got the original for this on sale at etsy – etsy.com/uk/listing/572025191/the-bemusing-of-reverend-davies-original

It’s also available as a poster –  etsy.com/uk/listing/552719732/the-bemusing-of-reverend-davies-print

 

Freak Baby!

Gerald

(by Modesty Jones)

Frampton Jones is really busy with the bridge, and its going really well, but he’s forgotten what day it is, so yours truly gets to write the news. And the news is that my little sister Shrove Tuesday Jones has given birth to a freak. Seriously people, I have seen it. She won’t let me take any pictures though. But what makes it really weird, is that my cousin Mendip Jones had a turkey born a bit back and it’s got the same freakish problem going on as my nephew. Have you ever seen a forehead horn like that on a turkey before? Mendip’s been getting ones with side horns for years, but this is a whole new kind of strange. Really, you should see the baby though. Go and visit her. It’s well worth a look.

Now, I got to thinking that really this must mean something, having a turkey and a baby turn up about the same time and both of them having a horn growing out of the tops of their heads. That can’t be just coincidence. Shrove Tuesday Jones has not named the father, and our father is on the warpath, I can tell you. I reckon there’s something unnatural going on. I asked Reverend Jones if he thought it meant something, and he said ‘Probably not,’ but he hasn’t seen either of them.

So, if you see a guy who has a horn like this growing out of his head, you’d better keep your daughters and sisters safe from him. And your turkeys. And we should check out anyone with a big hat, in case they are trying to hide a horn under it.

Organ Repair Appeal

The Organ

(Frampton Jones)

Yesterday Reverend Davies launched an appeal to do something about the dire state of his organ. The device, built thirty seven years ago by the infamous Testimony Albatross, is a remarkable feat of engineering and musical genius that Hopeless has perhaps taken for granted. In the many years since the demise of Albatross, the organ has gradually lost tone and some of its more creative functions no longer work. In the last few years, it has lost all semblance of tunefulness, and is consequently only used for funerals.

Inventor and repair expert Balthazar Lemon proposes an overhaul of the fabulous instrument. However, to fix the biggest organ in Hopeless, will require help from the whole community. Donations to the project much appreciated. Any small metal items, including wire, would be of great help. Balthazar Lemon requests any left handed sprockets, cat-stoppers and fids anyone happens to have spare. He would very much like some clewgarnets as well, and a selection of spoons in varying sizes, from teaspoons through to large serving spoons – metal, not wood. Donations can be left at the church or the lighthouse.