'Haunted North Cornwall' by Michael Williams
(Review by Peter Underwood FRSA, a member of the Eccentric Club)
Another volume from The History Press in their 'Haunted' series is always welcome but a new volume 'by the respected investigator, parapsychologist, Cornish bard and broadcaster Michael Williams is an outstanding event. In this volume we accompany the President of Paranormal Investigation on some-trul¥ extraordinary visits. His knowledge and experience of the subjects and the localities included makes this an exceptionally enjoyable read, evoking as it does each individual area as we visit some remarkable places and meet some fascinating people.
We mingle with Prince Chula of Thailand at Tredethy where a ghostly butler walks; encounter J. B. Priestley at Old Borough House in Bossiney with his theories on the mystery of time; and accompany Sir Henry Irving visiting a Boscastle witch!
In this captivating volume and in the always excellent company of Michael Williams we look in at The Castle at Bude with its overwhelming sense of past days and where psychic contact is established with former resident Sir Goldsworthy Gurney; we visit mysterious Bossiney Mound with its unexplainded lights, the possible buriel place of King Arthur's Round Table and where a pendulum produced some intriguing results. At extraordinary Tintagel we hear of various strange experiences including reports of the ghostly form of King Arthur himself; we visit beautiful St Nectan's Glen with its wealth of ghostly attributes and the Wootons Country Hotel where the ghostly form of a small boy has been glimpsed and where an interesting example of mediumship takes place. At and around Boscastle we find ghostly bell-ringing, ghostly boats with ghostly crews, a spectral naked man, the contemporary ghost of a man in tweeds, the ghost of a one-eyed miller, the unexplained lighting-up of rooms and much more.
At St Clether the holy well chapel has the ghostly form of a tall Victorian cleric; The King's Head at Five Lanes and The Highway-man at Sourton are just two of the haunted inns-visited-and subjected to scientific investigation together with the lovely village of Altarnun where there are several reported ghosts. At lonely Warleggan there is the shade of a former rector and a female 'presence' while the now disused Davidstow airfield is haunted by phantom aeroplanes. We visit Jamaica Inn where its many ghostly activities are investigated and explored; an inn that takes the most prosaic of us back in time; and other ghosts of north Cornwall are examined: murdered Charlotte Dymond, gentle John Wesley and eccentric Parson Robert Stephen Hawker.
In a chapter on More Ghostly Evidence we are treated to examples of healing, clairvoyance, animal ghosts, a 'wise' woman, a mysterious garden and a haunted battlefield; these and other interesting, disturbing and convincing accounts of psychic activity, many appearing here for the first time, strongly suggest there are forms of energy and unknown forces, perhaps from 'the other side', that we all need to seriously consider. We are indebted to Michael Williams for an immensely readable and superbly illustrated volume with never a dull moment. In a book replete with treasures everyone will find a favourite jewel.
Click here to read more: The History Press ISBN 9780750954396, 96pp., paperback, £9.99.
'Strange But True Military Facts' by Steve Crawford
This book is published by our friends, Pen & Sword, well established publishers, who in the past have published a number of books by our members.
'Strange But True Military Facts' by Steve Crawford, though its title may sound less than eccentric, actually represents a well arranged and illustrated informative collection of some of the most eccentric and peculiar facts from the human history of military conflicts.
Despite the gravity of the subject, the book makes a splendid afternoon reading, more entertaining than encyclopaedic: it is not just dry facts and figures, it is an amazing story of human character, the mistakes made through generations and the examples of outstanding courage and heroism.
But overall, the book's presentation and the author's well placed accents on various details make it into a good table book suitable for both private reading and discussions within a company of friends.
It will be equally enjoyed by the teenagers and the retired folks and is a definite must for those compiling intelligent and tricky quiz questions.
Over 500 stories and facts eventually bring the reader to a conclusion that there is no war without the world-old problems of miscommunication, misunderstanding, unjustified ambitions and disrespect for the fellow humans, lots of which root, regrettably, in the dark side of human eccentricity bordering with madness. But to study these bizarre examples of human behaviour today seems to be surprisingly timely, so that we would understand better the mistakes done before us and make sure we avoid them in the future, for the sake of us all.
It could be justly said that along with the entertaining value of the book, it also serves an important humanitarian purpose. 'Strange But True Military Facts' is currently on sale at just £10.39 on Pen & Sword website.
'What the Butler Winked At' by Eric Horne
'What the Butler Winked At' by Eric Horne is an amazing first-hand account of a butler's life in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Despite the humble roots of the author, his excellent education opened to him the doors of the most prestigious aristocratic homes of the time. However, his professional encounters and daily experiences of a butler, driven by the desire to perfect the knowledge of the society and its rules, would not have been known to us today if it was not for his literary talent, thoughtful observation of the lives of those around him, personal wit and a nice relaxed manner of narration in which the book is written.
Following Eric's life, the reader submerses into the sea of time, becoming a real time-traveller, able to experience and feel the life as it was, with all of its ups and downs, eccentricities and peculiarities of the character of those he meets along the way, the smells, the colours, the sounds, the emotions...
Horne achieved an almost impossible level of preserving and transmitting by literary means every worth noticing detail of his contemporary world, his reality. Perhaps, that is why the reader will re-live his experiences with a particular sharpness of realism.
'What the Butler Winked At' is published by Westholme Publishing and is available from Pen&Sword website at £12.99.
'A Brit Different' by Emma Woods and Keith Didcock
'A Brit Different' by Emma Woods and Keith Didcock has a somewhat academic-tourist-guide sub-title: 'A Guide to the Eccentric Events and Curious Contests of Britain'.
It is itself an eccentric kind of book - on the surface giving an impression of a pop-media photo album with a playful PR-style title, yet on the inside it is a splendidly illustrated and highly comprehensive study comparable to an academic work by its depth, thoroughness and carefulness.
The book is well structured by the seasons and the counties of Great Britain, and not only describes in detail the origins, development, terms and conditions of entries and prizes, and present status of some of the most eccentric customs and traditions, but offers numerous high quality photographs to accompany each event.
It may be said with no exaggeration that Ben Le Vay, our friend and esteemed member, a celebrated author of numerous 'eccentric guides' to Britain and its various parts, is getting a strong competition emerging in the authors of 'A Brit Different'.
The book is both - a field research at its best (and no similar in-depth researches of that subject were undertaken for at least a couple of decades) and an entertaining and eye-opening/widening reading, a true journey of discovery of a more than eccentric Britain.
The Eccentric Club Secretary shamefully admits that there were even the events in the book he had no knowledge of, which only emphasises the fine detail of the preparatory work by the authors; their splendid accomplishment of it is obvious from the final result. 'A Brit Different' is published by Punk Publishing and is priced at £14.95. You may acquire you copy by clicking here.
'101 Ways to Pick Stock Market Winners' by Clem Chambers
Our members and readers are finally treated to a book of revelations by our one and only Clem Chambers - '101 Ways to Pick Stock Market Winners'.
Stock market often happens to draw the eccentrics' attention and that is where an advice of a fellow eccentric with many years of experience in the field becomes irreplaceable.
The book, already praised by another authority on the subject, Robbie Burns, the author of 'The Naked Trader', is set to become a best-seller, a kind of the Stock Market Bible, helping those at the sea of dealing, to be focussed in the right way, to ignore the temptations which have ruined too many, to avoid the mistakes of the inexperienced traders and to maintain the right state of mind at all times.
'101 Ways to Pick Stock Market Winners' is not about 'telling you what to do and what not to do', it is more of a tuning-mind meditative exercise book. Of course, it talks of the most eccentric things, like the 'dead cat bounces', 'buying a crash', 'selling a bubble', 'investing in a bull' or 'buying a bear', but we may only assume that those in the know would understand the lingo.
More importantly, it talks about 'common sense' - so frequently forgotten these days that only the Eccentric Club may still preserve it for the mankind. And Clem Chambers returns to his reader this important focus on common sense and the work which has to be done when dealing at the stock market. Those who lose this guiding light, 'buy the sizzle, but not the steak'.