Episode One Hundred and Two
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Monstrous Agonies E102S03 Transcript
Hello, friends, Hero here. I’m going to be taking a short break for the next two weeks as I rest up a little and get ready for the final stretch of Season Three. There’ll be no episode on either Thursday June 15th or June 22nd, but we’ll be back in action on June 29th. In the meantime, you can find me on social media or by whispering your questions into the ear of a passing raven. Look after yourselves, and enjoy the episode.
[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]
Monstrous Agonies: Episode One Hundred and Two.
[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through unintelligible speech, folk music, a voice saying “-world started spinning” and pop music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]
-once feared and worshipped as a god, now upcycled into a tasteful vase.
It’s coming up on two o’clock here on the Nightfolk Network, and time for our weekly advice segment. Tonight’s first letter asks what to do about an unexpected inheritance.
The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)
My family, so the story goes, dates back to the Roman invasion. Ours is a line of weather workers, stretching throughout history from first born son to first born son. There’s even a tradition that claims it was our ancestor who sank the Spanish Armada.
Of course, every line of weather worker in England claims to have sunk the Armada! [laughs] But we are undoubtedly one of the oldest practitioner families in the country. The family pile in Oxford dates back to the reign of Richard I, if you can believe it.
I'm afraid I was rather a disappointment to the family. I broke the line. First born son to first born son traditions tend to get rather muddled when the last son is a homosexual.
My grandfather and I had a great row over it. I can practically still hear him, screaming about me needing to “do my duty” while my father was… [sighs] Well he was no use at all.
I left. Took myself off to study astrophysics – at Cambridge! [defiant snort] I don't know which was more shocking, the school or the subject. And I haven't been in contact with either of them since. It sounds sadder than it is. It was a very long time ago!
And besides, I’ve done rather well for myself. I taught at Cambridge for a time and spent the past few decades lecturing in Canada, where I met the man who is now my husband!
But now I'm back. My father recently passed away, leaving me as his sole heir – an inheritance which quite naturally includes the family home. It is a grand old place, I will admit, and full of nostalgia. But also... a great deal of pain. [sighs]
I can’t look at the paintings of my ancestors, stony faced and glaring down at me, without hearing again all the awful…awful things my grandfather said to me. Meanwhile, the silence of the corridors seems to echo with my father’s failure- [sighs] Refusal. To speak up in my defence.
The house was built for weather magicians, with great arching ceilings designed to be full of heaving clouds and rolling thunder. As such it is an absolute beast to keep clean! [laughs] Not to mention the astonishing number of stairs involved.
I’m well into my 70s, with one bad knee and one worse one, so you can imagine that’s not going to work for me. Besides which, something about my husband’s genus just doesn’t get on with the wards on the old place. There are some rooms that won’t even let him enter.
It feels silly to live in such a large house and yet confine ourselves to only a few rooms. And leaving it empty would be a horrible waste of space. But with all its wards, lingering spells, hidden rooms and so on, I don’t feel I can safely sell it on the open market.
I would like, if I can, to donate it, especially if doing so would benefit members of the liminal community. But I’m not sure how to go about doing so in a way that is equitable, ethical, and above all, safe.
I'm quite out of touch with the British creature community and my husband’s genus, while common in North America, doesn’t have much of a foothold here. There’s nobody we can really reach out to. So… here we are! [laughs] Do you have any advice in this matter?
The Presenter (as themselves)
I think donating the property is very fine idea, listener. Certainly that would make more sense than trying to make a home out of it, for both the practical reasons you mentioned and the emotional ones.
I think your first step is to get a full account of what, exactly, you’re dealing with. What is the precise nature of the existing wards, and how might that affect how the space can be used?
You’ll need to consult a specialist surveyor. This may be rather expensive, but I assure you it is worth the cost – for the sake of health and safety if nothing else.
I’d also recommend investing in a full thaumaturgic cleanse to dissipate any lingering, half-formed spells that might be clinging to the corners of the ceiling. There’s nothing like old magic to make a place unpredictable.
Consider these steps as the laying the groundwork for your actual donation. You – and the organisation you donate to – will need to know exactly what the donation entails and how the space can or can’t be used.
As to where to donate, that’s really up to you. What kind of cause would you like to support? Are you happy to donate to a large, national organisation, or would you prefer to support more local actors?
Consider, too, how you imagine the space itself being put to use. Would you be happy enough for it to be used as office space? Or do you have a more specific use in mind – as a community space, a retreat, an educational facility?
Your answers to each of these questions will naturally shape your decision making, as will the capacity for any chosen organisation to actually make use of the building.
If you’re stuck for a starting point, try asking around in the local community or on the Internet for possible leads. I doubt you’ll be stuck for options once word gets out about this incredibly generous offer.
If that all seems rather more than you’re willing to undertake, remember – there is no shame in using some of your inheritance to hire an expert in wealth management to facilitate the process. Consider it an extension of your charitable giving – taking on the administration costs so your chosen charity doesn’t have to.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
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Our second letter tonight is from a listener fighting bad first impressions.
The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)
Before I get into this I want to point out – there is far more choice in demon behaviour than most people are led to believe. Including demons themselves.
Our single-mindedness isn’t a matter of being unable to act another way. It stems from how we see the world. Or rather, how we can’t not see the world.
Creatures with X-ray vision don’t look for bones. That’s just how they see people, as skeletons. It’s similar for us. We don’t go looking for your darkest insecurities or your greatest weaknesses. That's just how people look to us.
I know there is more to people than what I see – that I can only see a fraction of the whole. But most demons – most people, let’s be honest – simply don’t know what they don’t know.
We see a person’s yearning, doubt, dread, shame, anger, their darkest impulses. And we’re taught that that’s all there is to them. We’re raised preying on the insecurity of our pit-mates. We’re told, “If you’re not pulling the strings, someone is pulling yours.”
And there’s nothing in our environment that contradicts that. It’s all we see, and all we know. You can imagine how that shapes our culture, our attitudes – and, ultimately, our behaviour.
But I got out. It wasn’t that I didn’t fit in. I was good at being bad. I could play other people like a fiddle, make the most of the worst of them. But the more I did it, the less I liked myself.
So... I left. I found my way to this plane of existence and tried to make the make the best of things. I made an ass of myself more than a few times. [laughs] Of course I did. I was lost. Trying to navigate the world with such a limited scope.
But I figured it out. The world is so much more complicated and so much softer than I thought. There is so much good here. I even made some friends – for a while. They don’t tend to stick around once they learn more about who, and what, I am.
I know, I know. Stay persistent and sincere and, eventually, I will find people who accept me. But understand, to accept me people have to accept the ugliest aspects of themselves too.
Or at least, they have to be comfortable with me knowing them. Looking at them and seeing every little failing, every weakness, every shameful desire and shred of self-doubt. With that in mind, it’s not exactly surprising people don’t like having me around.
Not surprising, perhaps, but it is infuriating. I am opening myself to people who I know for a fact to be jealous, vindictive, insecure, needy. And I’m giving them a chance to show me they are also hopeful, caring, trustworthy, earnest, kind.
Don’t I deserve the same chance? I know there is a great and awful precedent that demons have set for themselves. I know, also, that I am not responsible for it.
I suppose I just need some reassurance that I’m not fighting a losing battle. That I can overcome my true nature. That I do, in fact, belong here, even when I’m being rejected.
The Presenter (as themselves)
First of all, I want to recognise your hard work and perseverance in reaching this point. You have done extremely well to overcome the difficulties of your upbringing and forge a place for yourself where you belong.
Because you do belong, listener. I can say that with absolute certainty. You belong here, and we are all the better for having you with us.
You ask whether or not you can overcome your “true” nature. Respectfully, I must push back against this style of thinking. I don’t think there is anything in your nature you need to overcome.
Whether or not someone is a good person isn’t a matter of mathematics. It isn’t about weighing inner darkness against inner light, keeping a tally of chaste or impure thoughts.
It’s about who they choose to be in their day to day – how they act in the world, how they treat the people around them. It’s about how much care they take not to hurt others, and how they apologise and make amends when they inevitably do. Goodness is a process, not a destination.
You seem to understand that when it comes to others. You give them time and space to let their actions speak, instead of judging them by the failings and foibles revealed by your demonic nature. Why can’t you give yourself the same grace?
Your true nature isn’t defined by your genus or your upbringing. You define it, repeatedly and continually, in an ongoing project of self-creation.
You have chosen, are choosing and, I hope, will continue to choose to be a person who approaches the world with patience, compassion and kindness. That is your nature. I see nothing in that to overcome.
As for the rest, frankly, listener, they can go hang. You’ve clearly been listening to my previous advice about making friends and finding your people. Stick with it. Eventually, you’ll find people who understand just how lucky they are to know you, and will treat you accordingly.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
The Nightfolk Network – the UK’s only dedicated radio service for the creature community.
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Next this evening, from oily feathers to brighter bioluminescence, it seems there’s a health supplement for everything these days. But how true are these products’ claims? We shine a light on...
[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-paninis-”, more pop music, and a voice saying “-Market Yard in Larne-” before fading out.
Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]
Episode One Hundred and Two of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.
Tonight's first letter was submitted byDarla,the second letter was from Patchie Deth, and this week's advert was based on similar suggestions by Jan Caltrop and itsthekiks. Thanks, friends.
If you’re enjoying the show, please consider supporting us at patreon.com/monstrousagonies, or making a one-off donation at ko-fi.com/hrowen.
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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.
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