Well, just got back from Centre Vale Park after a drive out there with Drew in his Volvo to view the (now) infamous Lucky Dog of Todmorden (or Fossilised Dog as it known by some locals who are “in the know”) which is supposed to bestow good luck upon any that stroke it’s seal-like shiny head.
It was erected in the park by Calderdale Council a few years back despite a number of mysterious setbacks which were apparently put down to ‘acts of God’. This steel cast structure was created by local artist David Wynne (there’s something about his name which appeals to me but I just can’t put my finger on it!) who claimed to have designed the thing to increase local prosperity. He was apparently unaware that this sculpture was later to become imbued with magical powers. Local legend has it how this came about … for it is said – again by those “in the know” – that following its unveiling in the park a coven of witches from nearby Slawit dedicated to the worship of the ancient Goddess Diana began worshipping secretly at the dog’s feet at night, imbibing it with supernatural power. At one point (and not many people know this) the group’s influence even managed to place a certain degree of pressure on the Local Authority to provide a tarmac path to the site of the dog, in the event of a full moon accompanied by inclement weather.
In fact Todmorden has long been associated with tales of witchcraft and the occult; even UFOs are said to regularly visit the vicinity, accounting for up to 1 in 10 of UK based reports. In 1993 or thereabout such activity was featured on the television program ‘Strange But True’, hosted by Michael Aspel. The program featured interviews with several local witnesses to these disturbing events, including a local Police constable who had discovered a hovering craft of pretty large dimensions right at the turning of Fearnley Road . He claimed to have experienced a half hour time lapse after this, and later under hypnotic regression recalled that he had been taken onto the craft for medical probing by a small team of alien robots. That same night an entire herd of cows rampaged across a local council estate and was later discovered deposited on a nearby rugby pitch – with no hoof marks in the mud which surrounded them to indicate how they got there.
But regarding the canine statuette in Centre Vale Park; well known illusionist Derren Brown (and he is certainly well known in North London Pagan circles) took it upon himself in 2011 to ‘hijack’ the Todmorden Dog for his own ends. Not only did he distort the original purpose of the dog’s enshrinement in lead, he lead the whole town of Todmorden on a merry dance, designed to make them look like a community of gullible village idiots. In short, as part of his Channel 4 series, he connived to play a mean spirited trick on the residents of this somewhat luckless town, to the effect that his ‘experiment’ culminated in claims that the dog has nothing innate about it which brings good luck and that the hapless Todmordenites who fell prey to his trickery were all a bunch of eejits who fell for his fibs. All of this was of course was intended to further the general public’s perception of his powers as an illusionist.
Well the people of Todmorden are not as silly as Darren – to use his real name – would like them to appear. And so Brother Gareth, Brother Drew, Sister Della and myself found ourselves being greeted by the powers that be in Centre Vale Park this afternoon in the hope (as expressed by them) that I could help rectify this state of affairs – or at least to find out if the Lucky Dog’s powers were genuine. They explained to me how important the dog is to them as a local tourist attraction, and that the use of my name in connection with it could only further their cause. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it all, as it is not my usual line of work, but the dog did seem to exude some peculiar magical vibrations as I was asked to stroke it’s head.
After some persuasion Brother Gareth and I agreed to perform a short ritual to consecrate the dog’s role as a mascot and guardian, ensuring that local fortunes remain unblighted. Additionally I agreed to patronise next year’s Lucky Dog Picnic. At present, due to eternally shifting sands within the enormous chess game that is Calderdale Council, I have been asked not to publish photos of other people present at the meeting today. However, I can assure readers that the picture below is very close to this afternoon’s ceremony.
So, back in Drew’s Volvo we got, and had the surprise of our lives as we entered Hebden Bridge. It seems that local gossip spreads quickly in rural Yorkshire, for a largish group of locals had gathered in the streets to welcome me as I passed through the town. It was a bit embarrassing really, but I did autograph a few pictures of myself which were being thrust through the car window by well wishers (and a few items of female clothing which I better not describe here!) before we wound our way back to Drew’s taking the ‘scenic’ route.
But as we passed though Brighouse another small surprise awaited us – though it had no supernatural implications. At one point we passed an old aged pensioner, apparently having an exchange of words with an official looking gentleman who was standing in front of some sort of newly erected ‘prison type fence’ with ugly looking spikes at the top. We could not hear the conversation in detail, but could make out a few swear words, and distinctly caught the woman saying “Get that dickipoggy thing out of my back garden, you tommynoddingcapdoffer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” She was carrying shopping bags full of dog poo – as we discovered when she threw one at the man in question. We had to ask Drew to provide a translation service for us, but he did not understand the words she was using either – even though he only grew up half a mile away! He just laughed and said in a tone of exhausted resignation “Just ignore it – its only the local madwoman, making a nuisance of herself as usual.”
So back to Drew’s we went, dropping off Brother Gareth at his camping spot near the weir at Slawit. We decided it was for the best that Gareth camped out; he was more than welcome at Drew’s but – and our scary sighting of the shopping bag wielding pensioner on the moors confirmed this – it seems that Huddersfield is just not ready for Brother Gareth, especially his nocturnal hymns to Greek Goddesses which we were worried might entirely blow their minds (if not their ear drums). But at least he has a nice view!
Oh – after such a busy day I almost forgot to mention – the search for the missing damsel has now been provisionally called off. Local intelligence informs me that she was seen this very evening, scrambling in the direction of Fixby, clasping a barely thumbed Bible and desperately applying copious amounts of rouge and scarlet lipstick.
So here we are, back at Drew’s and looking forward to another evening of indulgence in the inhouse spa complex. It is our intention to return to London tomorrow, but the way things are going up here I just don’t want to appear rude, or ungrateful for all the local attention and support I have been receiving.
So we shall see…