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Episode Nineteen

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Monstrous Agonies E19S01 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Nineteen.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through static, classical music, a voice saying “-I, I can't see it as a person-”, pop music, and a voice saying “-eels!” before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-was never supposed to be like this.

Next tonight, it's time for our weekly advice segment. Our first letter this evening is from a listener struggling with an ethical quandry.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

When I was growing up, my grandmother had a pedigree mimic chest. I was obsessed with it. We weren't allowed to play with it, of course – whenever we came over, Granny locked it in the good room, with the confirmation photos, and the plastic-covered sofas. But I remember thinking it was just the most beautiful thing in the world, with its walnut coat, claw feet and cabriole pseudopods.

Eventually, Granny taught me everything she knew about mimics, though she didn't usually let me help with hers much. She preferred to do that herself, she was always a practical, hands-on sort of woman. Never had time for special diets and artisinal polishes. She kept it simple - beeswax, red meat, and plenty of exercise.

I always knew I wanted a mimic like Granny's one day. I've been ready to get one for a few years now. I've got enough money and stability and I think I could give it a really good home. So I've been keeping my eye on the second-hand stalls and the adoption lots, but nothing's cropped up yet.

Then, a little while ago, I found out about a local breeder who specialises in pedigree walnuts, just like Granny's! I've done my research, the guy's on the level – he's accredited with the Cabinet Club, and he's got a good reputation. It's pretty dear but I can afford it, especially for one so much like my Granny's.

I know there's loads of ethical issues about pedigrees and buying from breeders. And like I said, I looked at adopting. But I might never find a real walnut second-hand. And really, that's the kind I want. The kind I've always wanted. And surely getting one from new is better since I've never had one of my own before, and I can take the time to train it from when it's young. It it alright for me to ignore the ethical conundrum and just buy the actual perfect mimic I want? What's the right thing to do here?

The Presenter (as themselves)

Listener, I can't make this kind of ethical decision for you. It's completely up to you whether buying a mimic from a breeder is a moral compromise you're willing to make.

I can't tell you there isn't a clear ethical choice here. The fact is, there's a hard limit to how ethical mimic breeding can possibly be – especially in the face of over-crowded shelters up and down the country. But we all make compromises on our morals for comfort or pleasure from time to time. The question is whether this is something you're willing to compromise on.

Mimics are often abandoned by people unprepared to take care of a species prone to high energy, aggression and hoarding. You, on the other hand, know mimics better than most. Adoption might be an opportunity to give an older mimic a new and happier home using the knowledge your grandmother passed on to you.

Adoption is often a better choice for first time owners. With an adult mimic, you can still enjoy training them with new tricks, but they're often already housebroken, and lack the destructive energy of younger mimics.

What's more, pedigree mimics are often prone to health problems particular to their breed – walnuts, for example, can have a tendency towards moon blindness, weak mortise and tenons, and ear infections. You need to ask yourself if you're comfortable with that. Quite apart from the moral questions involved, you need to be confident you can afford the financial cost of your mimic's long-term healthcare.

You might well never see a pedigree walnut, just like your grandmother's, on the second-hand market. And if that is truly what you want, then you will simply have to come to terms with the ethical compromise involved in that decision. The important thing is to be honest about that compromise. Take responsibility for your choices and their impact. At the end of the day, that's really the most any of us can hope to do.

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

The Presenter

Brought to you in association with Hob & Sons Adaptive Homeware – practical designs at practical prices.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Our second letter this evening comes from a listener whose husband has some explaining to do.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

Me and my husband have been together for seven years, married for two. He didn't have much of a relationship with his family when we met. I'd actually never met them. They didn't come to the wedding – he didn't even mention inviting them.

We've been talking lately about starting a family of our own, gearing up to start the adoption process. I think this set something off in my husband. The thought of being a dad himself, I mean. He reached out to his family last year and they started to reconnect. Then, this Hallowe'en just gone, Arawn's parents invited us to theirs. Arawn was pretty anxious about it, but he wanted to go.

They live pretty far out. I mean, really far out. The kind of isolated I didn't think still existed. Maybe up in the Highlands or something, but not in Wales. The village- [laughs] Village is over-stating it, barely a scattering of houses dropped there in the middle of the forest. But it was like it existed in a bubble, frozen in time centuries ago. There wasn't even any telegraph poles, no satellite dishes, not even streetlights.

And then, his parents were just... lovely. His dad was a bit reserved but he shook my hand in that straight old man way, told me to [in a Welsh accent] call him Gwyn. Which I was going to anyway, but it was a nice gesture. And all of Arawn's anxiety just sort of, melted away. He was glad to be home. I could see that, easy as anything.

And that was it. We walked the dogs, had some tea, watched an old Doctor Who DVD after dinner and went to bed. Just a nice, quiet Hallowe'en with the family.

I woke in the night. The dogs were barking. They had four, but the noise was way more than four dogs could have made. Arawn was already up, pulling on his boots. He told me to go back to sleep. Said he had something to do.

Of course I went down after him. The look on his face, I couldn't let him go alone. I followed him down and then... I don't remember. I ended up outside in the lane, but it wasn't the lane, not really. Gwyn was there, and Arawn, and all these other men, I didn't know them. How could I? Their faces kept moving. And dogs, more than four, more like fifty. And the... horses? I think they were horses...

I don't think Arawn could see me. It was Gwyn who spoke to me. He brought one of the horse things over, helped me onto it, slapped me on the back and said I was a natural. It felt nice, that he would approve.

Someone blew a horn, I didn't see but I knew it was Arawn. It was beautiful. Everything about him is beautiful. And then, we were off – the thunder of hooves, dogs baying. My heart was beating... not harder, not faster, but more? Like I could feel the blood moving through my body, surging with the rhythm of the ride.

More joined us as we rode, some that looked like people and some that looked like things trying to be people. Then, we were turning, leaning hard to the left, in this big loop, and going uphill at the same time, circling this swell in the ground. I don't know what made me think it, but I think it was a barrow, not a hill at all.

We reached the top and everything clattered to a stop. And there, at the crest of the hill, wheeling his mount round in the moonlight – Arawn, hair streaming loose behind him, a look in his eyes like I'd never seen before. He was easy in the saddle, he held his reins in one hand, and in the other, a standard that cracked as blew and turned in the wind. I couldn't see what was on it. I think it was made of... leather. It must have been leather.

Arawn was saying something, a speech, it honestly sounded like it was something out of Lord of the Rings. I didn't understand, I don't speak Welsh.

And that seemed to be it. We must have ridden back, because then we were outside the house, in the lane again. And everyone was gone, the horses, or whatever they were, the dogs, the riders. It was just Arawn, and Gwyn, and me.

Arawn was furious. He was shouting at his dad, and let me tell you, anyone who thinks Welsh is a gentle language has never seen someone getting a bollocking in it. His dad didn't look sorry at all. Eventually he snapped back at Arawn, and said in English, [in a Welsh accent] “Well, he was going to find out one day!”

Arawn stormed inside. I didn't know what else I could do, I just went back to bed. Arawn wasn't asleep, but he obviously wanted me to pretend he was, so I left him to it.

In the morning, his mam cooked us all breakfast, and she and Gwyn acted like nothing had happened.

And we haven't talked about it since. He's stopped talking about adoption

as well. I'm starting to get worried. What if he thinks I won't want to start a family with him, because of this... this legacy?

I love him, and I'm not going anywhere, and I still think he'll be a wonderful father, but I need to know more about what this means,. What it would mean for our child. How do I show him that he can let me in on this? That I want to be there with him – wherever 'there' is?

The Presenter (as themselves)

Well, listener, this certainly sounds like something of a revelation. I'm a little surprised your husband didn't think to bring this up earlier in the relationship, or at least before you set out on your visit.

Regardless, it sounds like your husband is processing some difficult personal feelings. I can't guess whether or not those feelings are, as you say, related to his potential as a father, but it certainly seems possible.

I realise it's been some months since this occurred, but still, I think it would be best to give him a little more time. If you haven't started the adoption process yet, there's really no reason to rush.

Judging from the argument between him and his father, he might well feel that his autonomy in sharing that side of himself has been undermined by your unexpected presence that night. He might need some reassurance that he is in control of what he shares with whom, and when.

However, you also deserve to have your questions and concerns answered, as well as having the opportunity to make clear your own position – that you are still committed to the relationship and to starting a family together.

Find a time when neither of you are distracted or busy with other things, and let him know that you're ready to talk when he is. Make it clear that the conversation is going to happen, but that you're not rushing him into it.

Otherwise, I'm afraid there's not much you can do but wait, and trust that your relationship is strong enough, and has enough trust and love between you both, to get through this. Good luck.

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

The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network. Broadcasting all the time, for all time.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Next, stay tuned for our countdown of the top ten most influential creatures in UK history. Kicking us off, a controversial figure whose involvement in the unsanctioned rewilding of south Norfolk...

[The Presenter's voice fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-the Edmondson's theory-”, someone speaking Irish, music and static before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

Episode Nineteen of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.

This episode's first letter was based on a suggestion by Sophie. Thanks,


To submit your own letters and suggestions, head over to our website at, email us at, or find us on Tumblr at Monstrous Agonies.

Hello and thank you to our latest supporter on Patreon, Bob! If you'd like to support the show, head over to You can also show your support by leaving us a review on iTunes and sharing the programme with your friends and familiars.

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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