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  • Writer's pictureH.R Owen

Episode One

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Monstrous Agonies E01S01 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode One.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls past the sound of someone speaking French, a pop song, and choral music, before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-buried out by the train tracks.

It's coming up on two o'clock – you know what that means! It's time for another trip through the inbox as I answer your questions on life, love, and all things liminal.

Starting us off tonight, a listener struggling to reconcile with their partner's past.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I've been with my partner for two and a half years, and we're very happy together. He's thoughtful, funny, generous and kind – and my mum loves him!

A few weeks ago, we were having a silly conversation about which historical figures we'd most like to sleep with. We'd gone through the usual suspects - James Dean, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan - when I let slip that I've always thought William Shakespeare would have been a brilliant shag.

My partner went suddenly quiet, and though it's sometimes hard to tell with him, I think he was blushing.

To cut a long and awkward conversation short, my partner has apparently slept with a number of notable men throughout history, including William Shakespeare, Richard II, and Lord Byron.

I have tried to put this past me. I've always accepted that dating an older man means coming to terms with his life, so to speak, before he met me. But my confidence has been shaken.

I can't stop comparing myself to these men. I've researched them all online, and learnt everything I can about them. I think I'm better looking than most of them... but it's hard to tell from their portraits. And I can't help feeling they had more interesting things to talk about than their day at work or their latest Netflix binge.

I've never felt intimidated by his past before, but now I'm worried that I'm the least impressive in a long line of luminary lovers. How can I possibly hold a candle to his exes?

The Presenter (as themselves)

Listener, you must put a stop to this obsessive research. I promise you, there's nothing on these men's Wikipedia pages that will boost your confidence, or strengthen your relationship. It's also not going to give you an accurate idea of what your partner's exes were like.

History is a lot like social media - there's always someone behind the story deciding what to include and what to leave out, curating an image of the past, and the people in it, without any of the boring bits or bad lighting. Of course Shakespeare sounds impressive on paper – he's had over 400 years of editing.

There's always going to be tension when one partner's experiences are so different to the other's. The important thing is to celebrate your differences instead of worrying about them.

Your boyfriend might have seen and done things - and people! - that you haven't, but you've also lived a life he hasn't. Work on valuing your own, unique perspective. Healthy self-esteem is the best defence against this kind of insecurity.

You and your partner have been building a life together for the past two and a half years. Every day you wake up and decide to keep working at your relationship is as precious and valuable as any poem or play. You do yourself, and him, a disservice by forgetting that.

Finally, I would like to note that, if William Shakespeare had actually made the beast with two backs with every immortal who claims him as a notch in their bedpost, the man would never have had time to pick up a quill. Byron is a different story - for most creatures of the night, sleeping with Byron was more an occupational hazard than an accomplishment.

I shouldn't read too much into either if I were you. Concentrate on building your self-esteem and understand that, if your boyfriend has spent the last two and half years listening to you talk about your day at work, cuddled up on the sofa in front of Netflix, that's probably exactly how he wants to spend his time.

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

The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network. In association with Caliban Cosmetics: for all skin types and none.

[End background music.]

The Presenter

Next, a listener whose flatmate's skincare regime leaves a lot to be desired.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

Last year I moved to London and found a flat share online. The flat's great, and my housemate seemed perfect as well. We had a bit of culture clash at first, but apart from an incident with the shared freezer - after which she got much better about labelling her food - everything's been fine. We keep very different hours so we don't see each other much, but she seems nice.

About three months ago, she went through her first moulting since I moved in. I've never lived with anyone who moulted before, but I know it can be a sensitive subject so I decided to keep my nose out of it and leave her to it.

But then one morning when I was getting ready for work, I looked in the kitchen sink and found what I can only describe as... "peelings". There were more the next morning - and every morning after that for the whole two weeks.

Sometimes it was just a little pile, but sometimes it was great big swathes of the stuff. Once, I saw what I think was most of her hand? And another time I swear half her face was in there, clogging the drain.

They were always gone by the time I got back from work, but it grossed me out. I kept imagining her sitting on the sofa at night, picking away, then depositing the lot into the sink before she went to bed.

I know she can't help shedding but surely there are better ways for her to dispose of the stuff afterwards. How do I ask her to stop without sounding ignorant or insensitive?

The Presenter (as themselves)

I assure you, you are not being insensitive. This behaviour is unacceptable. Shedding itself is nothing to be ashamed of - it's a natural process and no reflection on a person's health or hygiene. If you have toenails, you might compare it to clipping those. Perfectly normal, but not something one leaves lying around. At least, I certainly hope you don't.

There are lots of ways for a person to dispose of their sheddings that are both more private and more hygienic. Your housemate probably knows them, but I suspect she's fallen into bad habits while living alone.

I suggest you bring this up with her before her next moult starts. Moulting can be an emotionally vulnerable time for a lot of people, which could make any confrontation worse than it needs to be.

There's no need to complicate the issue. Simply tell her that you don't think it's hygienic for her to leave her sheddings in the kitchen sink, and ask her to please dispose of them somewhere else.

If she refuses, or fails to clean up her act, I wouldn't waste any more time on her. She is being unreasonable, and if she doesn't improve I recommend moving out and finding a housemate with a bit more respect for the space you share.

[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

It's two o'clock on Thursday morning, if you've just tuned in – welcome to the Nightfolk Network, the UK's only dedicated radio service for the creature community. Next up - do you suffer pain and cramping during transformation? These unlikely superfoods could hold the key to painless matter transition.

[The Presenter's voice fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls past opera singing and someone speaking French, before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

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

If you're a person of the night or otherwise identify as a member of the creature community, we want to hear from you. Submit your own monstrous agonies online at, by email at, or find us on Tumblr at Monstrous Agonies.

You can support Monstrous Agonies by leaving a review on iTunes, sharing the programme with your friends and familiars, or supporting us on Patreon


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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