Shirley Jackson

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I went to a talk last night at the Liverpool Playhouse, way up in the studio at the top of the theatre, which was lovely. It was a discussion about ‘Quiet Terror’ between Jeremy Dyson, writer of a favourite of mine, ‘The Haunted Book’ and much more, (Yes!The League of Gentlemen, but he must get sick of fans like myself mentioning the radio/TV series.) and local horror/science fiction/fantasy writer Ramsey Campbell.

There is a theatre production of ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ in production at the Playhouse until the 16th January, so the talk was in conjunction with that. Each spoke about how she had inspired them, when they had seen the film of ‘The Haunting’ (the good one, not ‘the other one’)  which for most people is how they come to appreciate Shirley Jackson, and how she had influenced horror since. I did feel a hackle rise when she was described as ‘delicate horror’! Don’t think ‘The Lottery’ can be described as ‘delicate’ can you ? But the phrase was quickly  and thankfully reversed to ‘Quiet Terror’.

There were readings by both authors, and the Q&A at the end which I always look forward to. Those few seconds of silence before a hand is raised really can be a ‘quiet terror’ for an author. They were asked if they had ever put themselves in any danger to write, supernaturally or otherwise; a cracking question. Ramsey Campbell explained about the house he lives in being haunted (‘scares off the burglars’) and it helping with his stories. Jeremy Dyson spoke more about ‘dangerous situations’ he had been in influencing him, which chimed with me. Real life is much more scary I think!!

Also, a member of the audience mentioned ‘The Loney’ by Andrew Michael Hurley, with its ‘Quiet Terror’, winning debut novel of the year at the Costa Book Awards recently, which made me very happy indeed, being a fan.

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The time went quickly, the conversation came to an end. I bought myself another copy of ‘The Haunted Book’ (This won’t be getting borrowed by a friend and never seen again!!)  and had it signed by the author. A good evening had, but any would be discussing Shirley Jackson.

 

 

 

Croxteth Hall

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Literally ten minutes from where I live, in the North of Liverpool (Inner city Kidder!) Is the beautiful and FREE TO ENTER  Croxteth Country park. There is a farm, a Victorian walled garden and the Hall. They all charge a fee to get into and it’s well worth it, but the actual park surrounding these is free, I will repeat it ,”FREE!”

I visited on Sunday morning, as I do most weeks, bought my hot chocolate from the cafe (was the old stables) and plonked myself on a bench to drink it, when it hit me, no not the hot chocolate, it was just how lucky was I to have this on my doorstep? Granted, a lot of the surrounding land has had to be sold off for housing, but the heart of it is still there. I am old enough to remember when the security guards rode on horses! When the ‘Hay Day’ was the highlight of my Summer holidays and when the lakes used to actually freeze over in Winter! This was only the 1970’s not the 1870’s, honestly.

The front of the house is different, lots of  white and Queen Anne,

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All very lovely, but this house has two faces, I much prefer what is around the corner,

 

Screams Haunted House!

Screams Haunted House!

 

The older side of Croxteth Hall is much more atmospheric and interesting to me. I gorged on ghost stories as a child and carried on  into adulthood. I  take my time when I walk past here and always think of the Shirley Jackson novel ‘The Haunting of Hill House’,

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a favourite novel of mine.

If you are ever in the area and have some spare time, please visit Croxteth Park in Liverpool. It has not got the backing of the National Trust, and is run by the Liverpool City Council who are stretched enough as it is. Visit the house, the Walled Gardens and if you have little’uns  or just like piglets visit the working farm on the site,you will not be disappointed. And if you just want to wallow in the mystery of the place then please  have a walk around, don’t get lost in the woods and remember to buy a little something from the gift shop.

"Hill house has stood for ninety years and might stand for ninety more..."

“Hill house has stood for ninety years and might stand for ninety more…”

A nice surprise!

A nice surprise!