There will be two issues of Nyogtha next week. Issue 49 hits as part of a preview of the upcoming Beyond the Threshold. Issue 50 will be the last piece of the culture section. There were 35 issues of volume I, plus the three into Daily Pulse columns Nyogtha debuted under. This puts us at a total of 88 Nyogthas in two years. Not bad. Volume III of Nyogtha will be fully kicked off under BTT and will be in a more blog style format, although considering my propensity for long, exhaustive essays, even on subjects like Optimus Prime or why Electronic Arts is the devil incarnate, it probably won’t seem THAT different. Still, it behooves me to give you all a two week warning that things are shaking up AGAIN here at Inside Pulse, and that come V 3.0, Nyogtha won’t be weekly as I’m being asked to write more and more content for the two new video game sections spinning off from Inside Pulse. Yes, two. Funny considering that for the last few months, the Games section has been Mark, myself, and umm…rarely someone else. As you’ll see in a fortnight though, business is about to pick up.
Since this Nyogtha is running concurrently with my review of Barrow Hill, over in the Games section, It thought it was only right to focus on a bit of British folklore this week. Nothing from Cornwall itself though, as doing that would ruin the big special feature of the game I think everyone reading this should run out and buy. Instead, I’ve chosen to talk about a British ghost that was all the rage in the 18th century, but is largely forgotten today. As juvenilia aside, it’s known as, “The Case of the Cock Lane Ghost.”
Between the years of 1762 and 1764, skeptics and eye-witnesses fought publicly with each other and the whole spectral drama would eventual culminate with a massive trial. Just like the Amityville Horror, except with more dapper clothing and posh accents I surmise.
The whole story begins in the year 1740. The first principal character is a man by the name of Kent who worked as a stockbroker. Yes, they had stockbrokers back then. Kent would end up rented a home on Cock Lane with is in West Smithfield, which in turn, is a suburb of London. Kent’s landlord was one Mr. Parsons. Mr. Parsons was a clerk for a nearby church. Kent would settle into the Cock lane home with his sister in law, Fanny. Fanny was living with Kent since his wife/her sister died in childbirth a year before and both consoled the other for losing two family members at once. Eventually said consoling would blossom into getting it on, and finally love. Although Fanny and Kent did not marry, they did make out new wills, naming each other as their sole heirs.
You’d think this alone would be the catalyst for the ghost story, but it’s not. See, what would happen is that Parsons would need to borrow money from the man renting his house. How often does that happen in these times, eh? Only a little while later, Parsons and Kent would end up having a huge argument, the details of which are not recorded in the eventually 1894 documentation of the entire Cock Lane ghost affair. Kent would move out of the home in a huff, and then sued Parsons to get his money back. Two years would go by with no contention of the suit. However, during this span, Fanny would contract smallpox and die. Her remains would be buried in a vault outside St. John’s church.
Now normally when a mutual friend of two people feuding dies, it puts a standstill to all the fussing. But Parsons and Kent turned into a non inbred version of the Hatfields and the McCoys. Parsons sunk low enough to spread a rumour that Fanny didn’t die from smallpox at all. Instead, Kent KILLED her to claim possession of all that she owned as he was listed as her sole heir.
This slander went on for about a year until Parsons turned it up a notch. Now he was saying that not only had Kent killed poor Fanny, but that her ghost haunted the home they once both resided in. Parsons’ own twelve year own daughter would claim to have seen Fanny’s ghost who told her that Kent did indeed poison her for her fortune. Supposedly the house on Cock Lane was also the site out loud booming noises in the middle of the night that first started the night after Fanny perished.
This still was not enough for Parsons. He then brought in a well respected gentleman known to many in London and invited him to see the ghost firsthand. The gentlemen would see Elizabeth shaking and frightened, saying the ghost had just visited her. He also would bear witness to the loud boomings that Parsons’ reported, along with tapping sounds emanating from Elizabeth’s bedroom. The gentlemen (whose name I am not privy to) agreed to come back the very next night with his clergyman and others in order to get to the bottom of the haunting. This would turn out to be Parsons’ undoing.
The next night, nearly two dozen people would come to the house on Cock Lane. All agreed to stay until the ghost materialized. Of course it never did. Parsons said this was because it would only appear before Elizabeth due to her natural innocence and goodness, but it could communicate with everyone else with yes or no answers to questions asked via the booming noises. This is where the “One knock for yes, two for no” stereotype/cliché in ghost films and stories originated from.
A few hours later, Parsons and Elizabeth said the ghost was “ready.” The inquiry into the invisible thumping ghost began and according to the rapping being accepted as definitive answers, the ghost stated that Kenny was poisoned and could only rest if Kent was hanged for his crimes. Like I said, Parsons went from just Pissed-Offville and bought a first class ticket to Psychoticmotherf*ckerland.
Although this might seem obliviously insane and fake to us, this was 250 years ago, and was the first documented case of things we now take for granted supernatural-wise, so people were more trusting and naive back then. Faking a ghost to kill your enemy killed so you don’t have to pay him 50 quid? That’s straight out of a Scooby-Doo episode.
With these people having witnessed proof of an authentic tormented spirit trapped between worlds due to an unjust murder, the story spread through London like bad teeth and even worse food. Tourists and the curious began to flock to Cock Lane, and Parsons being Parsons, began to charge admission into his house so that they could hear the ghostly tap-tap-taping.
Slowly but surely Parson’s false ghost began to unravel as holes in the stories “it” told began to become apparent. First up came the fact the ghost of Fanny promised it would follow Elizabeth everywhere. It would also stalk anyone who went to Fanny’s vault for any reason. Even examining the body. Members of the committee took this as a threat to Elizabeth who was brought to a clergyman’s house. Of course the ghost did not appear.
The second crack was when some people took Fanny up on her other threat and entered her vault. No appearance of a ghost, no noises no anything. The third strike against Parsons’ fraudulent ghosts was when some committee members asked Kent to confront the ghost. Kent agreed. Guess what? Nothing happened. He went right down into the vault with a score of witnesses and it was as silent as well…the grave. Kent even confessed he was hoping there WOULD be a ghost of Fanny so he could see her one last time.
By this time, few people still believed in Fanny’s ghost. To quell the rising sentiment against him, Parsons’ started a new rumour. This one was that the reason Fanny’s ghosts didn’t appear was because Kent had taken her body away in the middle of the night and thus she could not appear. In response, Kent had them open Fanny’s coffin. Lo and behold, she was in there, completely intact, Well, as intact as a decomposing body can be. Everyone present at the opening made a written account and charges of fraud were filed against Parsons, Elizabeth, and other people Kent suspected were in on the flimflam. Every single one was found guilty on all charges and Parsons had to pay retribution that was far more than he owed Kent in the first place. Oops. He also got two years in prison and was forced to stand in the pillory.
Ah for the days was just was swift and true and not a case of, “Whoever has the most expensive lawyer wins.”
In Games, I reviewXyanide, Williams reviews 99 Nights, and Mark B reviews yet another pretty but overall awful game by Squaresoft.Gaspshockhorror.
In Culture, Carla talks vanity press.
In Music, Gloomchen tackles Jessica Simpson, while Josh Clinton reviewed the MTA Music Awards. MTV has music again?
In Wrestling, Eric S.talks RAW and Kevin Wilson goes back to NJPW, circa 1990.
In Movies, Tom Pandich sat through The Wicker Man, while Travis Leamons got to watch This Film Has Not Yet Been Rated
In TV, Murtz reviews Prison Break, and Josh Clinton scares me by showing me Road Rules is still around. What’s next? Is The Maxx or Liquid Television back?
In Sports, Daniels bitches about the Rex Sox.
Sorry kids, no food stuff this week. It took me 11 hours just to churn out these four pages. UI wasn’t feeling it this week. Chalk it up to being back on review status of video games. Our sneak peak of V3 will find the 49th issue of Nyogtha talking about feuding Hillbillies. See you then.