Sunday, 15 January 2017


Hello folks, just a quick parish notice - this week's show will be a tad late thanks to some software problems caused by a Wordpress update (and as Wordpress is very popular for running podcasts quite a few other shows are also be affected too). However the episode is done and will go out as soon as we can get it up (oo-er missus) - hopefully by Tuesday, or hopefully before is Wordpress fixes the bug  in the update!

However while we're all here, the show list from the next month or so looks like this -

HYPNOGORIA 48 - Horror Last Year Part I : rounding up assorted prequels and sequels of note from 2016.

HYPNOGORIA 49 - Horror Last Year Part II: venturing beyond Hollywood to look at a selection of international horror movies

HYPNOGORIA 50 - Horror Last Year Part III: sampling some of my favourite horror flicks of last year

FROM THE GREAT LIBRARY OF DREAMS - The Man With the Roller - we turn to the works of EG Swain who we meet in our ghost stories for Christmas and hear another eerie tale from the little parish of Stoneground

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The 'Orrible 'Ouse of Terrible Old Tat #01 - Doctor Who and the Gambit Menace!

Welcome dear friends to the 'Orrible 'Ouse of Terrible Old Tat! Now this creaking old edifice contains a good many items that were produced in thrall to the great God Spin-off, and a further good many of those are items produced with the aim of extracting money from small children. Or at least, their parents. These days any sort of property with a demographic that includes legions of ankle-biters will have a range of tie-in action figures leading the charge at the frontline of the merch. But it wasn't always this way. The trailblazer for this brave new world of spin-off toys was of course the original Star Wars, and after the massive success of the Kenner/Palitoy action figure range, any movie or TV enjoyed by a sizeable number of children would transform their characters into a line of plastic homunculi. And before you could say "by the Power of Ponyskull!", this approach was developed further in the 1980s with the emergence of franchises and properties that were created to just flog toys in the first place. 

However while Lucas and Star Wars are often hailed as the creators of this toytown trend, spin-off toys had already been around for a while already. However in the years before we had heard the phrase "may the Force be with you", action figures based around cinema or TV properties were something of a different proposition. In the post-Deathstar years, the Star Wars approach of pocket sized figures at pocket money prices became the industry standard, along with the canny approach to turn every possible character into a doll, even if they had only lurked about in the background - Death Star Droid I'm looking at you. But in the pre-Stars Wars toy stores, any figures you found based on your favourite TV shows or movies were likely to come in a wide variety of different scales and sizes, and often be limited to only a handful of characters. And a perfect example of this simpler era of tie-toys comes in the form of the Doctor Who figures released by Denys Fisher in the late '70s.

In 1976, the Time Lord had been travelling for over a decade on the telly, and his current incarnation, the Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker, was proving to be the most popular yet. And so, the venerable British toy makers Denys Fisher released what would be the first proper action figure version of the Doctor. Now since the show's beginning, it had been popular with kids, and there had been many tie-in toys and much merchandise, such as books, comics, jigsaws and board games. However up until 1976, the only figures or dolls you could buy were various toy versions of the Doctor's arch enemies, the Daleks. However thanks to Denys Fisher (and Mego in the US) now you could buy a nine and half inch high Fourth Doctor, complete with hat, scarf and even a sonic screwdriver! But wait, there was more! You could also buy a Leela, complete with hunting knife, and an in-scale version of the Doctor's beloved robot hound K9. There was a range of enemies to pit your plastic heroes against in the form of Daleks, Cybermen and the K1 Robot (AKA the Giant Robot), and topping off the range was a replica TARDIS. 

Now don't get me wrong, these were a great range of figures and are now highly prized by collectors. Certainly I was delighted to get a Doctor, TARDIS and a Dalek one Christmas. But there were several features to this range that make them worthy of inclusion in the 'Orrible 'Ouse of Terrible Old Tat. The first is an odd little detail about the Doctor himself, or rather his miniature toyshop version. Now at first glance, it's rather nice to note that  the costume was very faithful to the Doctor's onscreen ensemble, and they did really try to have a figure that looked like Tom Baker. But I always found that my Fourth Doctor figure reminded me of another small screen hero - namely Gambit from Brian Clemens' The New Avengers, as played by Gareth "three types of the finest coffee beans" Hunt. 

And the funny thing is, many years later I discovered that there was a very good reason for this. For around the same time as the Denys Fisher Doctor Who range was being made, they were developing plans to do a range of New Avengers dolls. featuring plastic versions of Steed, Gambit and Purdie. The figures were to feature a karate chop action, and while some ads and promotional material did surface, the range of toys never really materialised, probably due to the New Avengers disappearing from our screens in 1977. And as far as toy historians know, only Joanna Lumley's character from the show, Purdy, turned up in action figure form in the shops. 

However, not wanting to waste a lot of development time and money, the sculpt of Gareth Hunt's bonce was cunningly recycled to give the Fourth Doctor doll a noggin. And it was, if you'll pardon an absolutely shameless pun, a gambit (boom! boom!) which worked rather well, as it certainly looked enough like Tom Baker to fool most kiddiewinks. However it would perhaps explain why the Doctor's plastic hat never quite fitted on his head well enough for my liking...

However the range holds further and stranger anomalies... Come back to the 'Orrible 'Ouse next time, to discover what wonders the Denys Fisher TARDIS had to offer! 

Sunday, 8 January 2017

HYPNOGORIA 47 - Lone Wolf

In the first episode for a new year, Mr Jim Moon pays tribute to the late Joe Dever, legendary writer and games designer, remembering the man, his life and works, and of course, his classic creations Lone Wolf and the world of Magnamund. We also preview what will be coming on the show this year too.

For more on Joe Dever and all things Lone Wolf, do visit


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HYPNOGORIA is hosted by GeekPlanetOnline and is part of the ROGUE TWO Podcasting network.

Friday, 6 January 2017


Well dear friends, Christmas is over for another year and most of us now are picking up the threads of our usual routines. Now many complain that Christmas is far too overblown these days and seems to take up more and more time every year, but if one looks back at Christmas customs of years gone by, you find that up until relatively recently our forebears would have been still celebrating. Of course everyone has heard of the Twelve Days of Christmas, but rather than being a kind of stripped down version of advent as is often assumed, this festive dozen didn't come before what we consider to be Christmas, but turned up afterwards. 

For the Twelve Days of Christmas actually begin upon Christmas Day and run all the way through until January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany in the traditional church calendar. And while now we only really remember this older version of the Christmas season in the tradition that we must take our decorations down by Twelfth Night (January 5th or 6th depending on if you are counting nights as preceding days or not), in the not-too-distant past this day was marked by celebrations of fun and feasting that rivalled Christmas Day itself. And why was such a fuss made of this last day? Well simply because in the old agricultural calendar, it was back to work on the 7th of January, or rather often the nearest Monday after, and hence Twelfth Night was the culmination of the holiday season. However of course in the 19th century as society became more industrial and urbanised, the tradition began to fade, and with the corporatised working cultures of the 20th century not countenancing giving wage slaves twelve days plus off at Christmas time, the Twelfth Night festivities all but died.

Now as for the best known remaining Twelfth Night tradition that this is the day to take down the Christmas decorations, rather than being some ancient piece of folklore, it would appear to be a more recent invention. Indeed, its part in the Christmas calendar is already in jeopardy, with many folks taking down the decs on New Year's Day, and yet others boxing up the baubles on Boxing Day. However historically speaking in centuries past it was actually traditional to leave the decorations up until 2nd the February, and at some points in history our forebears left their halls decked with boughs of holly until Easter! So rather than Christmas expanding every year, all the signs are that it is in fact shrinking, with our holiday period actually becoming shorter in real  terms!

However while these old bumper-sized holidays may seem astounding to us now, and the old Twelve Days of Christmas are now only remembered as a song, there are plenty of remnants of the old tradition remaining in folklore and local customs, with many places having their own individual ways of marking Twelfth Night. As many of these festivities were marked with food and feasting, there is a widespread tradition of making a Twelfth Night cake, often with added surprises. We are all familiar with the traditional sixpence (or modern coin equivalent) being slipped into the Christmas pudding, and the Twelfth Night cake has similar attached customs. As Robert Chambers noted in his Book of Days (1869) -

In England, in later times, a large cake was formed, with a bean inserted, and this was called Twelfth-Cake. The family and friends being assembled, the cake was divided by lot, and who-ever got the piece containing the bean was accepted as king for the day, and called King of the Bean.
However there were variants to this custom too, with other items being adding into the mix. For example, in one version if you found a twig in your portion of cake, that meant you were a fool. Over time, these special additions were replaced with trinkets and charms, silver ones if you were well-off, and in the 18th and 19th centuries Twelfth Night cakes became huge elaborate affairs with towers of icing and mounds of toppings. Many scholars hold that as the Twelfth Night traditions began to die out the tradition of adding lucky items to the cake, was enfolded into the lore of the Christmas pud.

Another common piece of Twelfth Night folklore revolves around the Yule log. Traditionally the Yule log was not some chocolate confection, but a huge piece of wood that was placed in the fireplace on Christmas Day. The log would be kept burning throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas, with often being considered unlucky to let it go out during this time. The log of course was eventually formally extinguished at  Twelfth Night, with many regions' lore holding that a portion of it, or sometimes its ashes, was to be kept to light next year's Yule log.

However as we often note in these excursions, folklore is often very local, and hence up and down the British Isles many places have their own individual traditions associated with Twelfth Night. In many areas it is one of the dates in the calendar marked out for some wassailing. Again while this is a tradition we now associate more closely with Christmas, but in older times it was a common feature of Twelfth Night celebrations, most famously perhaps in the counties of England where cider is produced, with the wassail being performed in orchards to wake the trees for spring. In a similar vein, a tradition that also acknowledges the beginning of a new agricultural year and a return to work, are the various customs associated with Plough Monday, which marked the start of the first week after Epiphany.

Plough Monday, which was was celebrated in northern and eastern England, has a host of traditions with several common features. Firstly there is some kind of procession with the plough at the centre, in some cases this is part of a ceremony to bless the plough for the coming year, but in other areas it is more akin to wassailing, with the "Plough Boys" taking the implement from house to house and asking for contributions of food, drink or coin. However much like similar Halloween traditions, should a householder prove to be uncharitable or unwelcoming, the Plough Boys may well plough up their gardens or doorstep! It is perhaps not surprising that the celebrants in many Plough Monday festivities adopt some form of disguise, ranging from the simple blacking or reddening of faces with some rustic make-up, or donning elaborate costumes. However this dressing up, aside from perhaps preserving the anonymity of the mischievous Plough Boys, also crosses over with attendant customs. For many Plough Monday traditions including the performance of mumming plays or a version of morris dancing (often called "molly dancing" in this instance). For more on this fascinating set of traditons, do visit Mr Pete Millington's excellent and comprehensive study found here -

Other places in England have even more unique Twelfth Night traditions, with one of the more famous being held in Haxey, Lincolnshire. On the 6th of January, the little village holds what is called the Haxey Hood - a rowdy contest which see the more game villagers join together into a huge scrum - called "the sway" to gain the titular hood - a leather tube - and attempt to transport it to one of four pubs in the village. The origins of this annual game are unknown but we do know it dates back to at least the 14th century, and it is still played with great gusto (and occasional minor injuries) to this very day.

And all of the above are just merely scratching the surface of Twelfth Night lore. For example, we have not even mentioned assorted traditions, mainly from Europe, where Christmas gifts are given on Twelfth Night, and I shall to return in subsequent years to examine some of these traditions in more detail. However I do hope that this introductory article has perhaps reawakened some interest in celebrating Twelfth Night once more. Personally I quite like the old concept of Christmas Day begin not "the big day" but just the beginning of the festivities, and marking the end of what used to be called Christmastide with another big knees-up before having to return to work!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Welcome to the 'Orribe 'Ouse of Terrible Old Tat!

A couple of years ago I decided to take a look back at the old Horror Top Trumps cards I had enjoyed so much in my admittedly much mis-spent youth. And what I intended to be merely a few idle bits of bloggery, turned into an epic series of posts as  I set about trying to identify the origins of the imagery featured in these fondly remembered but highly lurid decks. The trail led to all manner of interesting places in horror history and fantastic fiction and provided a heaps of fun along the way. However sadly Top Trumps decks, even the blood-drenched, gore-splattered, utterly insane Horror Top Trumps are finite, and so last year the series drew to a close...

However I missed delving into obscure corners of monster culture and making daft remarks about some of the more demented cards. And so, after some thinking, I came up with a new concept for some bloggery, but running very much in the same vein. And this time, we wouldn't be limited in the slightest. And hence dear friends, the 'Orrible 'Ouse of Terrible Old Tat was summoned into existence! 

And what is this newly minted dread edifice I hear you cry? Well, it lies at the more disreputable end of Memory Lane, a crumbling old building of sinister aspect with bits dropping off here and there. Look even its 'h's have fallen off! You may think of it as the slightly grubbier, more troublesome little brother of my usual haunt the Great Library of Dreams. Like its more respectable elder sibling, the 'Orrible 'Ouse is a repository of many weird and wonderful things, however while the Great Library is host to many classics of fantastic fiction, the 'Orrible 'Ouse contains less reputable items, things that were always more state of the tat rather than state of the art. It is home to terrible tie-ins, silly spin-offs, and bizarre bric-a-brac. Here you'll find catastrophic comics, baffling board games, macabre merchandise, and curious confectionary. In short, it's a treasury of odd things, things that kids obsessed with monsters, robots, and dinosaurs (you know all that high-brow stuff) used to hanker for... Some are fondly remembered, some are maybe forgotten, and a fair few were mistakenly thought of as a good idea at the time. 

I've spent ages marshalling the spiders to spin the proper sort of cobwebs to festoon everything, and it took weeks to get that creak in the old wooden door just right. But now we're ready to open... I've spent a good deal of time rummaging around in here, and I've already got a good selection of bizarre items to share with you... So then dear friends, welcome to the 'Orrible 'Ouse of Terrible of Tat...

Thursday, 22 December 2016

FOLKLORE FLASHBACK #19 - In Search of Santa Part II

This week on Folklore Flashback we continue our festive investigations of the history and mystery of Santa Claus! And so, here are Parts III and IV of a truly epic podcast series revealing everything you need to know about the man with the bag! 

In the next leg of our epic investigation of the history and mystery of Santa Claus, we examine the development of his image through 19th century America, his appearances in Victorian England, and how he came to inhabit grottoes in our stores come December time! 

DIRECT DOWNLOAD -  In Search of Santa Part III 

In the final chapter of this epic festive investigation, Mr Jim Moon explores the history of the British Father Christmas, goes on the trail of the German Weihnachtsmann, and perhaps finally gets to the bottom of where Santa Claus really comes from!

HYPNOGORIA 26 – In Search of Santa Part IV
DIRECT DOWNLOAD -  In Search of Santa Part IV

Finally, here is a gallery showing the images mentioned in the shows above, depicting Santa Claus through the ages -

Tuesday, 20 December 2016


It's the third and final night of our ghost stories from the Great Library of Dreams, and it is also a very special occasion too - for this is our 300th show! And to mark this milestone in podcasting, Mr Jim Moon is settling by the fireside to recount the strange and ghostly events that were to befall him one Christmas some ten years ago...  

DIRECT DOWNLOAD - Do You Hear What I Hear

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FROM THE GREAT LIBRARY OF DREAMS is hosted by GeekPlanetOnline and is part of the ROGUE TWO Podcasting network.