Welcome to Weston: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Quicksand and Curses

Weston-super-Mare is located on the South West coast of England, twenty-two miles from Bristol. Once a glorious Victorian seaside resort, more recently host to Banksy’s Dismaland, it has unique ways and customs found nowhere else in the West Country region, regardless of how dark and deep into it one is willing to go.

UKWestonMap

Weston-super-Mare indicated by red marker centre.

Beyond those paid to work in the tourist information building on the seafront (who probably come from Bristol anyway), one would be hard pushed to find a local prepared to say anything nice about the place.

Their fondness for calling it a ‘shit hole’ can come as quite a surprise given the idyllic images below:

wesbeach

‘Weston’ is Anglo-Saxon for settlement and ‘super Mare’ Latin for above sea; somewhere back in time the whole area was named as obviously as possible.

14120575355_947f66dc56_c

Taken from the wheel seen above (above being taken from somewhere further along the pier than this shows).

Further down the beach

(behind the above picture)

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Phenomenal:

Weston’s tidal range is the one of the largest in the world, second only to the Bay of Fundi in Canada (source Telegraph).

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4 bThe fast high tide isn’t cause of the consternation, though.

On the contrary.

Parts of the beach are designated for car parking.

Something providing locals with yearly entertainment in the form of visiting tourists who either take it as in invitation to drive out on the mud as far as they can; or don’t take the ‘please have your car off the beach by this time’ signs seriously.

A selection of images returned from searching ‘Weston-super-Mare cars in the sea’:

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Perhaps it’s something to do with the curse.

cur1

While sitting at a small round table in a pub the first time going, a complete stranger came from out of nowhere to tell me I was victim of it.

aleister_crowley

Aleister Crowley circa 1912.

The stranger told me a story I’ve heard many times since.

Its retelling can vary.

Some locals believe it was none other than infamous occultist Aleister Crowley.

Though there’s little to no evidence he ever went to Weston, despite claims he once lived there.

Besides, the story just rings as something happening way before Mr Crowley was even around.

The following is an attempt to piece together all versions ever heard into a singular story:

The Curse of Weston-super-Mare:

According to lore, locals became suspicions a Dark Artist  was living in their midst thanks to a number of strange going-ons:

  • favoured cows had turned to giving soured milk instead of their usual rich creamy bounty.
  • fishermen found nets lacking and in those that weren’t fish with knowing looks.
  • a deceased man caused his widowed wife to become pregnant from the other side of the grave.
  • the town’s three black cats—Milton, Ashcombe and Worlebury—each gave birth to six black kittens on the same day; a 6th of June and also a Saturday (weeks start on Monday in Weston).
  • adding to the hocus-pocus, two of the cats were previously always thought of as male.
  • worst of all, the horrific discovery that one night someone had entered the market square and turned the town’s talisman dolphin to into a regular run-of-the-mill old cod; a note left at the scene said, ‘I did it for the halibut’.

Dread was struck into the heart of each and every Westonian.

After a solemn ceremony to honour the dolphin, in which the area was renamed ‘Dolphin Square‘, locals descended on the giant hall of their leader known as the Sovereign’s Centre.

There they held council with ‘king’ Bourne Vylle.

Vylle appointed two local heroestreasured woodsman Old ‘kiss-my-axe’ Mixon; plus the ever-outside-lounging-on-hillsides shepherd Hutton the Moor—and instructed them to get the bottom of things with extreme prejudice.

Together they set about interviewing locals; thus Weston may also lay claim to having the first ever recorded detective partnership in history.

Though questioned alone, all residents started to suggest the same name when pressed thoroughly enough to report somethinganything—out of the ordinary.

One particular local was found to be, well, just all round too nice.

cur2rot

Regarding jam, cider and tall pointy hats: it turned out they’d been most generous – in fact, a fair number of those interviewed either wore said head wear, were more than a little tipsy from scrounged scrumpy or planned to have mooched jam for their tea.

But these acts alone were not considered enough to prove someone a spinner of spells. Hiding something, yes – but capable of something so dastardly as wizardry?

No, the crushing, undeniable evidence emerged when it transpired they’d also lent a large number of people varying amounts of money.

Even those with no realistic chance of ever being able to pay it back!

So, everyone indebted and grateful—thus far from suspecting any foul play—while simultaneously practising acts of impiety in the name of the horned one, eh?

Not on Old Mixon and Hutton the Moor’s watch!

The genre-inspiring detectives banded the locals together and set off as an angry torch-bearing mob bent on revenge.

Hearing them heading his way, the wizard realised he was faced with the choice of leave or be lynched, so ran in the most appropriate direction: Glastonbury.

The route took him up the extremely steep hill known as ‘Uphill hill’ on Weston’s southern border.

While now travelling the entire West Country, the origin of Weston’s annual carnival is said to be commemorating the chase by having a large procession wind its way through the town following its route.

100_1034

A misty view from atop Uphill hill; also another example of the lack of adventure in place naming.

It was there the locals gave up the chase. Not only is it technically outside Weston’s perimeter, it’s also really, really steep.

At the top the wizard looked back upon Weston; he felt angry and bitter for the injustice that’d had him run out of the town he called home for no other reason than liking to dabble in a bit of magic here and there.

100_1033-e1555805908416.jpg

The view of Weston-super-Mare from Uphill: in the foreground the village of Uphill, unlikely to have been more than a couple of mud huts and a fire at the time; Weston is further in the distance – the pier can just be made out.

Before descending the other side to never set eyes on Weston again, the wizard cast what he considered most appropriate given the circumstances:

A Returning Curse!

Meaning, whoever goes there will be compelled to return.

With various versions it’s impossible be a 100% about each and every detail.

Example: two were very specific about one of the black cats actually having white paws and a likewise coloured patch on its chest that at a push resembled a pentagram.

Many local places bear names relating to those in the stories; unfortunately, there are no written records to show any relationship as hard fact.

10397-262174

Numerous important records and documents stored at its end for safe keeping were lost in the Great Pier Fire of 2008. A keen eye will see not only Uphill in the background (left), but also the Church of Saint Nicholas perched near its edge.

However, all versions have the same core: a wizard run out of town, who turned at the top of Uphill to cast the curse.

I can hardly brush it off as some old West Country wives’ tale; not only did I go back, I ended up living there; then it was impossible to miss the impact on locals.

Those born there are often unable to leave beyond an occasional trip to Cribbs Causeway shopping centre near Bristol.

In most places, people returning from trips elsewhere are met with polite enquires as to how things went; in Weston, however, those fortunate enough to make it further afield and back again are treated as salt looking to rub itself in wounds.

uphillchurch

The Church of Saint Nicholas, Uphill. As is customary in England, churches are built on sites previously known for ‘pagan’ going-ons regardless of how difficult it is to get bricks (or parishioners) to the exact spot; the above mentioned Glastonbury’s Tor being an even better example; while Stonehenge equally so in the opposite way – the obvious ease with which stone had previously been placed there clearly showing it no challenge whatsoever, hence why it’s been left alone.

Maps of Weston featuring legends relating to The Medusa Protocol

(contains spoilers)

Large Weston Map

The wizard icon stands atop Uphill and points to wording indicating the village also called Uphill even though it’s next to and not up it. The small diamond-shaped (rhombus) area of water below the wizard’s staff is the same as seen in the ‘misty’ photo above.

The agonised trek along the beach (chapter 5: No-Man’s-Land) is stopped by the inlet indicated, at which point Uphill—the church in particular—is noticed for the first time.

From there it’s visited many times: in frantic daylight search, then rampant nighttime reconciliation. Living up to its mysticism, it’s a place of vision and apparition; ghosts and second-comings.

In chapter 8: The Outsiders, Sophie repeats a story about a horrific incident witnessed on the beach. The event is real – at least, Sophie repeats it pretty much as it was told me. It took place just up the beach from the inlet sign.

The Town Centre:

SMALL Weston MKII

The Seven Steps to Hell

Events are numbered in chronological order, not the order they are presented to the reader in Book I Wish You Were Her:

  1. Phone boxes where call to Her is made after arriving in Weston.
  2. Bench staggered to and thrown-up from after hearing what She has to say; once recovering, where the beach is walked onto and the pier under, as the anguished trek to the inlet by Uphill begins.
  3. The pub where, after returning from Uphill, Mark Macey imposes himself to tell the story of the curse to someone with nothing but cold-blooded murder in mind.
  4. After dealing with Macey, the sci-fi bar where Leda impersonates the police and keeps threatening to have her ex-boyfriend turn up.
  5. After leaving the bar with Leda, the point where the sea is seen fully in for the first time – waves crashing over the top of the seawall having covered what was a massive expanse of empty beach.
  6. Three scantily dressed hot chicks are on the beach with joints and they’re willing to share; only thing, in the process they confirm the curse and a lot worse.
  7. The nightclub visited after to drown in alcohol the latest barrage of soul destruction; from there, the trap waits to be sprung in the form of Leda’s place.

Previously in this series:

Coming soon: The Contradiction of Clichés

Pop Quiz:

Per capita Weston-super-Mare is likely to have the most in Europe of?

  1. Recovering heroin addicts
  2. People who like to pretend they’re Vikings
  3. Homeless Mexican Outlaw Bikers

Readers of the books should be able to answer with ease, but if you haven’t don’t let that stop you taking a guess!

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