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  • Writer's pictureH.R. Owen

Episode One Hundred and Seven

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Monstrous Agonies E107S03 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode One Hundred and Seven.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-Ringo Starr-”, a voice saying “-to fund the battles against-”, a voice saying “-Latino Bob Dylan-” and more music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-the sacred silence of green, forgotten places.

Time now for our advice segment.

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

The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network on 131.3FM – the voice of liminal Britain.

[End of background music]

The Presenter

Tonight’s first letter is from a listener pushing back against cultural expectations.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

The thing about stereotypes is, even when they’re good, they’re bad. Thinking someone’s dead clever just because they wear glasses, that’s bad even though being clever is good.

Everybody thinks they know what my genus is like. They think we are horrible. They think we are so horrible that when they needed a new word for someone being horrible on the Internet, they used us.

Only this is not a stereotype, because this is true. We are horrible.

We are rude, and we fight all the time, and we got rocks for brains and we don’t care about nothing and when people get upset at us, we just laugh and say, “Ha ha, what a fool you are, getting upset like a idiot.”

Me, I grew up in a big family under a bridge in Hackney. There is lots of us, and everyone is horrible. Everyone I know is horrible, and everyone I know is one of us. So when people say, “Oh you are one of them, I don’t want to talk to you,” I think, “Yeah, fair enough, I can see your point on that one.”

But I don’t want to be horrible. I want to be nice. I’ve been practising. When someone walks under our bridge, I don’t shout rude things or throw cans at their heads or make them fight me or nothing. I just say, [cheerfully] “Good morning!” in a cheerful voice.

They usually run off anyway. Ours is not a nice bridge to be under for very long. And besides that, I know what they are thinking.

They are thinking, “That one there is not being horrible to me right now, but I know what they are like and they are horrible. It is only a matter of time before this one is horrible to me, and starts shouting things and throwing cans at my head and suchlike.”

But one day, I will move away from this bridge. I will find my own bridge, somewhere nice and quiet and clean, and it will be a nice place to be. People won’t run when they go under it, they will walk slowly and they will say to themselves, “Gosh, what a nice bridge to be under!”

But what if then they see me, and they think, “Oh no, it is one of them, and they are horrible!” Even though I am doing my best and being friendly and smiling and saying, [cheerfully] “Good morning!”

I don’t want to be under this horrible bridge with these horrible people forever. But what if nobody else will have me? What if nobody will be my friend?

The Presenter (as themselves)

Listener, I feel I have to push back a little against your statement that the beliefs people have about your genus are not stereotypes. They are just as untrue and unfair as any other prejudices people may hold about liminal groups.

There are many reasons why so many of the people you know seem to fit this stereotype. I suspect most of them are to do with wanting to fit in with the people around them, in a sort of self-perpetuating cycle of unpleasantness.

But you are living proof that this cycle can be broken. You are one of them, and yet you refuse to treat people unkindly. You are able to do this because your genus does not define your personality or your life choices.

Kindness is not a soft choice. It is not an easy choice. To consistently choose kindness – to others, to yourself, to the world around you – is to choose a path that pushes against the current, and challenges societal norms at every turn.

But while it may be a difficult path, it need not be a lonely one. There are others out there who approach the world with an open heart, who will respond to your kindness with their own.

There will be some people who are unable to look past your genus. Pay them no mind. They are horrible and you already know that people who are determined to be horrible are not worth your time.

Instead, concentrate on being yourself – the self you choose to be, the smiling, friendly self who is doing their best. I promise you, others will see that effort, and they will respond in kind – with generosity, patience and ultimately, with love.

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

The Presenter

Are you looking for that special someone? Sick of wasting time on lack-lustre lackeys and half-hearted henchmen? Try all new Speed Hating – the speedy way to find your fondest foe!

Meet eligible enemies in person at our hate-date events and feel the spark as your eyes meet across the table and you realise they’ve definitely poisoned your wine. Speed Hating – we believe in loathe at first sight. Proud members of the Nightfolk Network.

[End of background music]

The Presenter

Our second letter tonight is from a listener whose work is bringing itself home with them.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I've never really had the chance to be physically intimate with other people. I was incredibly awkward in school and then dived head-first into my degree before spending most of my twenties relentlessly pursuing my dream job.

And now, I have it! After all that hard work, it’s paid off. I’m doing what I’ve always dreamt of – working for the Big D themself.

Finally, I had space and time to put myself out there. And I've really hit it off with someone! They're funny, smart, interesting and incredibly attractive.

They're the first person I’ve ever been… intimate with, and my first sapphic relationship after coming out as trans. And they’ve been wonderful and communicative! I’m-I’m having a lovely time! [laughs]

But my job requires me to be bonded with my reaping instrument. The bond is activated via a sigil placed on my body. The idea is that I can summon my scythe with a touch, whenever I need it.

Unfortunately, my partner really likes to touch me there. And I really like to be touched there. [laughs nervously] Which would be fine, if my scythe wasn’t both sentient and incredibly chatty.

It keeps being accidentally summoned in the middle of intercourse and then leans itself against the wall and tries to give us pointers. It’s so embarrassing! I really like this person and I don’t want to ruin things. What can I do?

The Presenter (as themselves)

First of all, listener, I don’t think you’re at risk of “ruining” anything. As embarrassing as these incidents might be, they clearly aren’t enough to put your new lover off – as evidenced by the fact that it keeps happening.

I’m going to assume that simply asking the scythe to bite its tongue is not an option here. For one thing, that doesn’t solve the problem of it observing the situation.

For another, the fact it sees fit to give a running commentary on events means I rather suspect it’s enjoying itself, and would be disinclined to sacrifice its own amusement for your comfort.

Might you try pre-empting the issue? You might be able to summon the scythe beforehand, and keep it close enough to hand to meet the requirements of the summoning without it necessarily having a front row seat to the event itself.

Failing that, a general banishment spell in the bedroom should hold the summoning at bay. Cedar, mullein, juniper and sage are all effective materials, and making love by the flickering light of votive candles can prove very, uh...

Uh. [clears throat] If, uh, spontaneity is important to you however, uh, try wearing a protective amulet to dampen your sigil’s powers. Malachite, pyrite and amber should all be effective. Just remember to remove the amulet when you start your next shift at work.

Whatever method you choose, be sure to talk it through with your partner, as tolerances to magical substances can vary dramatically from genus to genus. You don’t want to solve one problem only to cause another.

Finally, please, try not to let this bother you too much. It is very normal for sex with a new partner to be a little awkward, no matter how experienced the participants may be.

You are both learning what feels good and how you work together. Keep communicating with your lover, and try to relax. Sex is supposed to be fun, after all.

Next on the Nightfolk Network, the darker side of fibre crafts. The crafting community has long been a hot-bed for black magic, with widespread reports of geomantic knitting charts and viciously cursed crochet hooks...

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-in a London canal-”, unintelligible speech, a voice saying “-hello!-”, a voice saying “-is a memory-” and classical music before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

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

Tonight's first letter was submitted anonymously,the second letter was from Hayley,and this week’s advert came from Reggie Kim. Thanks, friends.

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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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