Monday, 31 October 2011

The folklore of black dogs in Yorkshire

The problem with Hallowe’en is the Americanisation of an ancient festival.

What we fear nowadays has more to do with Hollywood. Forget the Vampires, the werewolves, Frankenstien’s monster, and the return of the mummy.

The forgotten history of the West Riding holds much more frightening things:

Behold the BLACK DOG – a creature to strike fear into the hearts of anyone – well may be not this one. But for many centuries a large Black Dog with glowing eyes could paralyse anyone with terror.

It can also manifest as a demonic Sheep or an enormous black donkey. The black dogs appears at night seeing it would herald the untimely death of someone nearby.

Throughout European mythology, dogs have been associated with death and guardians of the underworld. This association seems to be due to the scavenging habits of dogs.

Just hearing the Berghest is enough to herald the death of a close relative. Try to stop it, and you will only hasten your own demise rather. The name derived from the same term for other bedtime monsters like bogie men and boggerts, the term Berghest comes from burh-Town and ghest–ghost.

But it seems to have Germanic origins - linked to Odin, the leader of the Wild Hunt a lone hunter tracking down a lady of the forest accompanied only by his two dogs.

In Leeds one term for them is Gabble Retchets, or gabriel’s hounds, from the Old English word “ræcc”, meaning a dog that hunts by scent. Appropriated by the church Gabriel is an angel linked to death who serves as a messenger.

As Mother Shipton's Prophecies "For storms will rage and oceans roar, when Gabriel stands on sea and shore, and as he blows his wondrous horn, old worlds die and new be born.”

In 1879, folklorist William Henderson described them as “monstrous human-headed dogs, who traverse the air, and are often heard although seldom seen.” In the neighbourhood of Leeds the phenomenon is held to be the souls of un-baptised children doomed to flit restlessly around their parents’ home.

A man called Nichols, writing in 1828, sai :-'Leeds has it's distinct Padfoots, distinguishable one from another, for almost every street'.

Padfoot, another name for the black dog, come from Wakefield, Leeds, Pudsey, and Bradford The soft padding of feet is first heard before the clanking of chains. It pads softly behind you and if you look back you’d see a shadowy, half-real creature in the hedgerow. Enough to frighten some to death in an instant.

Although dismissed by some as bean geese, In 1664, Reverend Oliver Heywood wrote: “There is also a strange noise in the air heard of many in these parts this winter, called Gabriel-Ratches), the noise is as if a great number of whelps were barking and howling, and ‘tis observed that if any see them that person dies shortly after.”

Whilst One source from Sheffield informed Henderson that “the sound was exactly like the questing of a dozen beagles and highly suggestive of ideas of the supernatural”.

Story is told of a man, whose way being obstructed by the Padfoot, kicked the thing, and was forthwith dragged along through hedge and ditch to his home, and left under his own window.

A man in Horbury saw a white dog in the hedge. He struck at it, and the stick passed through it. He was so "flayed" that he ran home trembling, went to bed, fell ill and died

But is this just a tale from the past? In 1993, a driver saw a large shaggy beast roaming between Horsforth and Rodley, that left him in dread fear for days.

In 2001 in Leeming bar: A large blackdog with no face and floppy ears ran in front of a car with two women in it. The hound pass through the bonnet untouched. A man that the women spoke to once they reached their destination later killed himself.

In 2009, a large black beast was been spotted on the tracks near Burley Park station by railway workers. In 2011 in Carlton, organisers of a rave heard unearthly growls and snarls that appeared to follow them wherever they went but they couldn’t find the source of the noises.

Take care and don’t have nightmares.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

How good is your Reputation? Let's make a list

I can’t help feeling that the Lists function on Twitter is one of the most underused resources on the social media platform.
The problem is that lists evolved after many started using twitter and the early adopters found it too onerous to populate them.

I feel I underuse them and will often find folk who I’ve not categorised in a key list of mine.

One advantage of lists is you don’t have to follow anyone on them but you can get a feed of tweets.

This means a project at work, news feeds or accounts of mild interest can be separated from your main twitter feed, reducing the useless tweets.

I’ve also used them to follow particular events or conferences. In particular, I use the lists to follow the Tour De France by getting the latest reactions from the leading riders as they send them out shortly after each stage. During the stages, the breakaway updates can be tracked at a glance.

But there is another intriguing way of using lists. It is an easy way to look at someone’s reputation and find more about a person or company. It’s also a way you can register a protest, affecting someone’s reputation without their knowledge or ability to change it when they finally cotton on.

So how am I thought of by the good folk of twitter?

Most associate me with my work with 47% linking me to my core industry sectors or recognising my ability to help their business. Even within this list there are positive phrases that help show my reputation; for example “PRs I Like”. I also personally think “Grow my Business” is another list that shows I’m offering them assistance.

My locality accounts for 16% of the lists made about me. They recognise I’m from Leeds although some add me into Wakefield where I have worked in the past and done a fair amount of business. The global nature of Twitter does also show itself as I am also classed as a British tweeter by one account out of the UK.

The next significant grouping is blogging with 1 in 10 listing me related to my blog posts or in relation to the cultural blogs posting I make on this and other blogs.

But 14% of the lists I’m baffled by. What does IRL stand for in relation to me? Or Honk and Towit? What connection do I have with music promotion and why does someone think I am a shop? Answers on a postcard please.

One person does think that I’m cool, which is erm…. pretty cool. (But Just one? Pah)

Most of the rest know me personally and add me as a known friend with only one person sadly following me because of my hobby rowing. I say sadly as I follow quite a lot of people involved in rowing, and they follow me back. I’d have thought more would have listed me.

So what does your twitter listing say about you? May be its your chance to change your output to make people think of you in a different way.