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Episode Fifty Two

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Monstrous Agonies E52S02 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Fifty Two.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through piano music, a voice saying “-close to bedtime-”, pop music and a voice saying “-like feet-” before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-stars could not physically be less aligned.

It's almost two o'clock on Thursday morning and time now for another edition of our weekly advice segment. This week's first letter is from a listener worried about their child's destructive tendencies.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I don't want to sound ungrateful. I'm very aware that I have been thoroughly blessed in life, with a comfortable home, a wonderful husband, and very few problems to speak of – especially compared to many of the letters on your programme. Everything in my life is going rather smoothly. But there is one glaring issue.

My husband and I welcomed a son into this world almost a year ago now. He's my husband's pride and joy, and the light of our little household.

We had thought we were biologically incompatible, with my husband being a different genus and all. But a friend of a friend informed me of a way to get around that little detail, and so our boy was conceived.

My husband is of feline lineage. He's got the tail, the ears, rough tongue, etc. And, most importantly, he has claws that he can sheath. Our son takes after him for the most part, but unfortunately he was born without the ability to retract his claws.

It hasn't presented much of an issue before now, but as he's grown older he's begun shredding anything he can get his little paws on, and it's causing much strife in me and my husband's relationship.

After my son destroyed some rather valuable keepsakes, the idea occurred to me that we could trim his claws, as one trims fingernails, or perhaps find some other solution along those lines.

When I proposed this to my husband he was horrified. He kept going on about how he “needs to learn to use his claws” and how it's “a perfectly natural part of growing up” and so on. He even dared to growl at me!

He says clipping is inhumane, akin to taking away someone's teeth, which is plainly untrue as my son has broken claws before and they grew back just fine.

I've tried to bite my tongue but yesterday my son destroyed my favourite blanket and I don't know what to do! He keeps destroying things, and my husband refuses to even acknowledge it as a problem.

Clipping his claws won't harm our son, and I'm beginning to get rather tired of my belongings getting scratched up by an infant who doesn't know any better. Please help me find a solution!

The Presenter (as themselves)

This sounds like very frustrating situation. You don't sound ungrateful at all – you sound like you're at your wit's end.

Your first port of call is to remove anything your son could destroy from his reach. It may be sad not to have your favourite items out on display, but you will have more peace of mind knowing that your good cushions and favourite scarves are well out his way.

If there are things he enjoys scratching that you can't put away – tables and sofas, for example – you can take other precautions. I hear double-sided sticky tape, tin foil and cling-film can all be effective deterrents for keen little claws. Alternatively, there are commercially available furniture covers and table leg protectors on the market.

You also want to provide your son with alternative scratching options. He's scratching and shredding for a reason, after all, either because of an instinct towards taking care of his claws or because he's bored and enjoys that kind of stimulation.

I recommend some scratchable, scrunchable, shreddable toys to take his attention away from your soft furnishings. Some children prefer scratching posts or mats, while others like toys they can tear apart without getting into trouble. You don't need to spend piles of money, but it would be good to give him some options while you work out his unique tastes.

I will warn you, some of these products may be marketed towards pet owners. They are, in substance, identical to those marketed at parents with children in the community, but use your discretion when it comes to purchasing anything visibly branded as being designed for animals. Your son won't notice, but it's worth considering whether or not your husband might take offence.

Speaking of your husband, his reaction to the suggestion of clipping your son's claws is not reasonable. He certainly shouldn't have growled at you, and I hope he's apologised.

However, there is a long and violent history of people of the night having their bodies... Well, frankly, mutilated in the name of sapio ideas of normality.

Clipping won't hurt your son. But your husband's genus is very likely to be one of the many subjected, in the past, to truly despicable practices such as declawing and fang-removal. It sounds as if his reaction is more to do with the generational trauma of these practices than the reality in front of him now.

It's not fair of him to conflate the two. You are speaking as this child's parent, who loves him and wants the best for him. More to the point, you are suggesting a completely harmless procedure. Unfortunately, your husband simply isn't in a place where he can hear that right now.

Give him time. Reaffirm to him that you respect his identity, and your son's identity, and that you're committed to raising a child as proud of his heritage as you are.

If you still want to try clipping, bring it up at a time when both of you are calm – not immediately after your son has destroyed a family heirloom, for example.

Your son will learn to control his claws in time. Meanwhile, you can work to minimise the damage done by his behaviour and give him some more manageable outlets for these urges. Hopefully this will give you and your husband some time and space explore other options.

Our second letter tonight comes from--

[A door opens and closes. Muffled footsteps.]

The Presenter

What are you doing? What-- What are you-- [the sound of flapping paper] Stop that-- Stop wiggling it at me! What is it?


[whispering] It's a note.

The Presenter

[mocking stage whisper] Why are you wiggling a note at me?

[paper flapping]


[whispering] Read it!

The Presenter

I'm not reading anything, what do you want?


[normal voice] Oh for pity's sake, you're impossible!

The Presenter

I'm not the one sneaking around like I'm in a bad spy novel.


I was trying not interrupt the broadcast. How did your old station manager talk to you?

The Presenter

He didn't. He left me to it.


Well, maybe if he'd been a bit more hands on you would have replaced him when he popped his clogs and we wouldn't be in this mess. I only wanted to tell you that I won't be here tomorrow night because I'm going to a New Year's Eve party.

The Presenter

Wha-- [sighs] Is that all?


Yes, it wasn't really worth the rigmarole, was it? Oh, if only I'd had some way of unobtrusively communicating with you without all this carry on. Ooh! Spy novel!

The Presenter



Let's write a radio station comedy spy novel together – Le Carré On Broadcasting! [laughs]

The Presenter

Oh, get out!


Are you doing anything tomorrow night? [giggling] No, wait, let me guess--

The Presenter



See you next year! [giggles]

[The door opens and closes]

The Presenter

[muttering] Bloody woman... [sighs and clears throat] As I was saying, we'll get our second letter tonight after a word from this week's sponsor.

[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]

The Presenter

Brought to you by Fenodyree Fur Dye. Say farewell to frustration with our fade-free formula, designed to keep your fur fresh, full and fabulous. Fenodyree Fur Dye – proud sponsors of the Nightfolk Network.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Hm. Well, they're still independent, at least. Tonight's second letter asks how to cope with risk in a new relationship.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

Good morning. I beg your pardon for writing, but I'm in need of advice from someone with a broader eye. I come from a wee village, a little out of the way. I've lived there all my life and I've known all those who have gone and come.

We're a close-knit community. Most of our folk have lived their entire lives – like their ancestors – not far from here. It's a good place to live. Most of the residents are human, but my kin and I are not so, but they've known us and we've known them for generations now.

Not long since, we've had a newcomer to the village. She's, uh... Well, I'll no bother you with the details of the circumstances, but I've had the chance to be of assistance to her. She's a fine woman, very quick and clever, with eyes like--

Uh. Forgive me. I digress. The matter is this: she and I have grown closer of late. Neither of us are wee young things any more, but I have never courted a human. Sometimes, I'm feart of how – my claws are sharp and humans don't heal as my kind do. How can I... How can I keep her safe? How can I be sure no to do her any harm?

The Presenter (as themselves)

The short answer is, you can't. There's no way to guarantee you won't hurt your friend. That's the nature of love, I'm afraid. There is no intimacy without vulnerability.

I don't think you need practical advice. You know your body – trust yourself to take reasonable precautions, and listen to her when she tells you her needs. Otherwise, the best thing you can do to soothe this anxiety is work on creating a relationship that makes room for pain.

It sounds paradoxical – if we love someone, we must want to protect them from harm. How can a loving relationship allow space for us to hurt each other?

The fact is, we are going to hurt each other. We will stumble, and tread on one another's toes. We'll speak in anger, and say things we do mean, actually, in that moment. But that we wouldn't mean, or wouldn't say, or wouldn't say quite like that, if we were calm.

A run-of-the-mill disagreement may stir things up we didn't even know we were carrying, and suddenly, spilling over, a hot rush of emotions, each more painful than the last.

For some of us, our very bodies are risky. Our claws are sharp, our teeth are pointed, we forget our own strength. We do our best. And sometimes, our best is not enough.

Be careful, and treat your friend with the kindness she deserves. When you hurt her, apologise and make amends. When she hurts you, hold her to the same standard, and let her treat you well in return.

Do your best, listener. It's all we can do. Do your best, and give her, and yourself, a little grace.

[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]

The Presenter

You're listening to the Nightfolk Network.

[End background music]

The Presenter

That's all for our advice segment this week. Next tonight, with New Year's Eve upon us, we talk resolutions. Whether you plan to fly less, jog more, or hope to hop on the zero-waste kill train...

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through choral music, a voice saying “-you'd already got your nibbles-”, classical music, a voice saying “-they say they were tricked-” pop music and dance music before fading out.

Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]

H.R. Owen

Episode Fifty Two of Monstrous Agonies was written by H.R. Owen and performed by H.R. Owen and Elizabeth Plant.

Tonight's first letter came from Louis, the second was submitted by Fyre, and this week's advert came from Bowl. Thanks, friends. Please note – submissions for letters and prompts are closing this Sunday on January 2nd.

Hello and welcome to our latest supporter on Patreon, Jeremy! If you'd like to support the show, you can pledge as little as £1 a month at or make a one-off donation at You can also help us grow our audience by sharing with your friends and familiars, and following us on Tumblr, @MonstrousAgonies, and on Twitter, @Monstrous_Pod.

This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.

Thanks for listening, and remember - the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.

[Fade to silence.]


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