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Episode Seventy Nine

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Monstrous Agonies E79S03 Transcript


H.R. Owen

Hello friends, Hero here. We're due a short break here at Monstrous HQ so there will be no episode next week on Thursday December 8th. At the time of recording, I'm expecting to be back on Thursday December 15th, but there's a chance I'll need another week. Keep an eye on the Monstrous Agonies Twitter and Tumblr accounts for updates, and enjoy the episode.


[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]


H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Seventy Nine.


[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-OK-”, a voice saying “-midwesteners admire resourcefulness-”, classical music and rock music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]


The Presenter

-at least I'll be ritually pure in the morning.

Up next, it's time once more for our advice segment. We're starting things off this week with a listener looking for some advice on the housing market.


The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I am a detached Victorian schoolhouse-turned-residence set on the green belt of London and I have been on the market for a good number of years now. I am not aware of how much I am being sold for as the last resident had no remaining family, so all decisions have been up to the sapio estate agents who viewed me.


Over the past century and a half, I have amassed quite the collection of long-term residents. The roof is haunt to the ghost of a maid murdered by her master and lover. There's the boy in the garden from when I was a schoolhouse who won't stop kicking that ball against my walls. The flapper and the hippie linger in the dining room. They think I don't know they're a couple.

The genus of the cat-sized tentacled being in the cellar is unknown to all of us, but it's as much a part of our little community as anyone else. Besides, it does help to keep the vermin population down.


They and I have been 'talking'. I don't have a voice but I do have the ability to communicate by forming impermanent words on the walls in blood. And we think it's a good idea to have a corporeal family inside me again. I admit, I miss the patter of little feet down my corridors. And we all miss the domesticity that a family brings to the household.


My problem is my age. I'm not a new-build any more and while the arsenic wallpaper was taken down decades ago, there are still myriad problems that need seeing to. Among other things, the gas main in the kitchen desperately needs looking at, the floorboards in the bathroom are rotting, and it takes all my strength to make sure the stairs don't cave in whenever people are viewing me.


I don't mind creaky floorboards, cobwebs and bloodstains, and I adore the bats in my attic. They're character features! However, no amount of character will help if I explode due to a gas leak.

I am already described by the estate agents as a... 'fixer-upper'. [sighs] A most undignified term. But I do badly need some TLC, and I'm aware that it takes a lot of money to refurbish someone like me. Not exactly an appealing prospect. How can I make myself more attractive to potential buyers?


The Presenter (as themselves)

I'm so glad you got in touch, listener, as you actually have some very real legal protections as the unembodied spirit of a historical physical structure. For one, the owners of your occupant structure are responsible for any repairs that might threaten your long-term integrity – a faulty gas main, for example, or a crumbling staircase.


The sooner your estate agents are made aware of these issues – and of their legal obligation to address them – the sooner they'll be able to arrange the necessary repairs. As for how to communicate, I think you've already answered this. You are able to manifest words on your walls. This seems as good a method as any.


I would recommend changing the colour of your writing if possible, though. You don't want your audience's alarm overruling their ability to interpret your wishes. But as with so many things in life, if blood's what you've got, blood must suffice.


However, I don't recommend informing the estate agents about everything that makes you... unique. While genius loci are protected under the Equality Act, your incorporeal inhabitants enjoy no such protections. The creature in the basement, I think, is also better left unmentioned.


Instead, I recommend biting your tongue and biding your time. You're a historic property in a prime location. Let yourself be bought, and wait until your new owner has invested a little time and money into sprucing you up. Then you can decide whether or not you want to continue with that owner, or run them off with a spot of good old-fashioned haunting.


By then, you'll be a far more attractive prospect to would-be buyers. And, with any luck, your reputation for being haunted will have spread to the type of people more than happy to share their home with a sentient house spirit, four assorted ghosts, and a cat-sized tentacle beast in basement.


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


The Presenter

Losing a pet is never easy – but it doesn't have to be permanent. Bring your furry friends back into the fold with Nekomancer. Please note, Nekomancer does not accept responsibility for any cases of “came back wrong”. See online for details. Nekomancer – why stop at nine? Proud members of the Nightfolk Network.


[End background music]


The Presenter

Our second letter tonight is from a listener concerned about a friend's recent changes.


The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I'll be honest, I don't actually listen to your show much. Sometimes I'll stick the radio on in the kitchen while I'm cooking, but I'm more likely to end up on Radio Two. And I never listen to the advice segment. No offence. I just can't really be doing with all that woo-woo, feelings-talk nonsense.


I used to listen quite often, though, back in my twenties. My flatmate would put the radio on whenever we came back from the pub, and because of the timing, we'd end up hearing the advice show pretty regularly. Not that we took it especially seriously. [laughs] I can admit to some pretty terrible impressions of you, sitting around the kitchen table.


But I think on some level, he actually really liked it. He's always been a bit soft. [laughs] And being the only creature in his family, uh... I don't know, he just liked it. He's gone off it now though. That's why I'm writing, really. Not because he doesn't listen to your silly radio show. He's changed. He's not... [sighs]


Look, I know what you people are like, OK? You think anyone who disagrees with your politics must a raging fascist or an idiot or both. Well, I'm not, alright? No, I don't see why my pay check should be gouged to buy new trainers for some layabout who doesn't want to get a proper job. But I still think it's a national embarrassment that there are children going hungry in this country, or grannies who can't afford to put their heating on.


I'm not cruel. I just believe in hard work, not hand-outs. And my friend was always on the same page. We just want things to be fair. If you work hard, you deserve to see the benefit.

A little over a year ago, he had a nasty break-up. It was a long-term thing and it really took the wind out of him. He didn't talk about it or anything but I- I think he felt a bit... adrift? Or just lonely. I mean I was right there, he c-could have said something.


But whatever. Suddenly, he was never around. He threw himself into his work and threw himself even harder into the after-work socialising. He was going out constantly, drinking heavily, partying, drugs, God knows what else.


And then he- he met someone. I was pleased at first, thought maybe it would help him get over the break-up, you know? And they were a member of the community too, and I thought that would be good, I know he's always felt a bit left out about that.

They're, uh, they're pretty well-known, I don't really want to say too much about them. Just in case, you know. I've met them a couple of times and, yeah, I see the appeal. I mean, they're gorgeous. All the right clothes, perfect hair, the kind of cologne that makes you... [sighs] Uh. And they're charming as hell – when they want to be.


My friend is completely besotted. He never shuts up about how clever they are, how brilliant, a business genius, did I know they single-handedly drove number one market share last quarter? Except they didn't? They bought that company. That's all. They inherited a fortune, and bought a company with it. Then they bought another, and another – that's all they've ever done. That's all they keep doing. They are a clever investor, at most.


But then he started saying really weird stuff. He says this person saved his life, or something? With, I don't know, some kind of spell? He won't tell me about it. We aren't really talking much any more. It sounds weird though, right? That's- That's weird? That's a weird thing to have in the middle of your relationship with someone?


And it's like I said, right? Hard work deserves to be rewarded. If you're working away, putting food on the table, doing your bit, that's how it's supposed to go. You're playing the game, same as all of us. My friend used to agree with me. But now...


The jokes he makes, the things he says about people. As if nobody can meet his standards any more. My mum used to say, you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat the cleaners. Well, after how I've seen him getting on, I'd add waiters to that list, and taxi drivers, plumbers, secretaries, hairdressers... [sighs]

I... I don't know what my question is. I don't know why I even bothered writing in. Just going to get a load of wafty bollocks. Forget it. That's it, that's my letter. Answer it or don't. See if I care.


The Presenter (as themselves)

I don't choose which letters I answer, listener. That's up to Station. But I do make my own decisions about how to answer. And while I promise to keep the, uh, “wafty bollocks” to a minimum for your sake, I'm afraid I am going to take your feelings seriously, despite your protestations.


“See if I care,” you say. Well, I do. I see that very clearly. You care very much, and quite rightly. We are, after all, talking about the sudden and rapid alienation of a very dear, long-term friend. Anybody would be upset by that.


I should also note, in the interests of full disclosure, that I suspect I do know the person your friend has become entangled with. Not being a regular listener, you couldn't have known about our station's... encounters with this individual.


Let us simply say that [sighing] I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment on all counts, and that I will endeavour as best I can not to let my personal feelings here influence my response.

You and I may not agree politically, but I can recognise that you seem to be a principled person who wants to make the right choices for a just and fair world. We've come to different conclusions about what those choices are, likely because we've been presented with different experiences and different evidence to draw from.


Regardless of our differences though, it's important that you respect your own personal integrity, and live up to your own standards. Don't laugh at jokes you disagree with, challenge your friend when he behaves badly, and model the change you want to see in him by treating the people he dismisses with proper respect and courtesy, as you know they deserve.


You want to avoid an aggressive confrontation here. Your friend is behaving terribly, but – brace yourself for some “woo-woo” – he is also seeking comfort and validation during a period of profound vulnerability. His new social circle is providing that validation, and if he feels you threatening it, he will pull away.


Spend time with him on his own as much as you're able, and only push back when his behaviour calls for it. Do so gently, but consistently, demonstrating to him that you care about him and want a relationship, but that you're not an appropriate person with whom to share these ideas.

You can take the same approach to his new relationship. Telling him outright that you think his new partner is unsuitable will only risk him pushing you away altogether. Concentrate on building your relationship, sharing the things you enjoy, and refusing to engage with his infatuated hero-worship.


I will say now, this is not likely to change his mind. At least, not in one fell swoop. But it will give him a clear, consistent alternative to the world-view he's being presented by these new friends. What's more, that alternative will come to him from someone he already trusts.


In time, he may move away from this ideology – and this individual. Your efforts here will make it easier for him to do so by providing him a supportive relationship to turn to when these others prove lacking.


All this will take some work and commitment on your part, however. If you don't want to make that commitment, if your friend is simply too unpleasant to have in your life, you don't have to. You can walk away if you find this relationship is too difficult or too harmful for you to maintain.


If you do, please, let yourself grieve this friendship as it deserves. There is a middle ground between “woo-woo feelings-talk” and emotional constipation. Whatever course of action you take, I hope you can find a way to process your feelings and work through them in a healthy way.

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


The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network, on 131.3FM. Community owned, community run.


[End background music]


The Presenter

Stay tuned for another edition of our monthly book club. This month, we're discussing themes of alienation and cross-genus oppression in 'Not Now, Bernard', a classic text from 1980...


[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through classical music, a voice saying “-won a competition-”, rock music, a voice speaking Irish, and distorted laughter before fading out.


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


H.R. Owen

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

Tonight's first letter was submitted by Taze and this week's advert was submitted anonymously. Thanks, friends.


If you're enjoying the show, please consider supporting us on Patreon, at patreon.com/monstrousagonies, or making a one-off donation at ko-fi.com/hrowen. 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]


--END TRANSCRIPT--

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