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  • Writer's pictureH.R Owen

Episode Twenty Three

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Monstrous Agonies E23S01 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Twenty Three.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through static, a voice saying “-um, you know-”, a voice saying “-be restricted-” and classical music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-the slow, cold songs of stone.

Next tonight, stay tuned for our advice segment where I answer your questions about life in the creature community.

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

The Presenter

131.3FM – the Nightfolk Network.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Our first letter this evening comes from a visitor struggling with culture clash.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer – an American accent)

Ever since I was a kid, I've been kind of obsessed with England. It started

with Doctor Who, as so many good things do, and just snowballed from there.

I read my mom's Jane Austen books when I was in high school and fell in love with the descriptions of beautiful countryside and rolling hills. Even the rain seemed magical to me, growing up in a little podunk town in the middle of Texas.

And look, I'm not an idiot – I know England isn't actually the Shire. It was a fantasy. It's kind of cringey in retrospect but you know, if you're not kind of cringey as a teenager I feel like you're doing it wrong.

Even when I got older and the fantasy wore off, I was still desperate to see it for myself. I wanted to visit a stately home and imagine it was Pemberley, or get a pint at the Eagle and Child, or uh... Well, you know, I don't know what the Doctor Who equivalent is. Getting chased round a quarry in Cardiff by a bunch of guys wrapped in aluminium foil, I guess.

Anyway, I got offered the chance to come over and work in our London office for six months. I jumped at it! I arrived in mid-January, and it's been amazing. I've been seeing the sights and doing all the touristy things and learning so much weird slang. I even had beans on toast the other day, and you know what? It's not bad. It's not good [laughing] but it's not bad!

But here's the thing - I'm going stir crazy! This country is so small, there's just so much packed into such a tiny space.

I found a temporary pack to join while I was here, and I was so excited to spend my first full moon with them. We piled out of the city – it was a good three hour drive, I was surprised. Usually when you guys say something's a long drive you mean like, ooh, twenty whole minutes. [laughs]

Which is kind of my point, right? The rest of the pack were talking like we were going out into the wilderness for a real run, but we get there and I'm like, this isn't wilderness. It's just... space between towns.

I can cover a lot of ground on four legs. But it like you'd just be getting into the swing of it when, oh, wait! There's a settlement. Better turn back. I'd seen just about every clump of heather and spooked every pony on those hills by about 1.00AM.

I'm used to running all night, full speed under the moonlight. Just you, the desert and the stars, and you don't stop running till your breath's ragged in your chest and your fur's itching with dust and sweat. Not trotting meekly around the park like Pekinese!

It was more of the same last month, and I feel like I still have left-over energy from my first shift here, and then the second is just sitting on top and I don't know how long I can go piling tension on top of tension. I've already started chewing at home which is never a good sign. Isn't there anywhere wild in this country?

The Presenter (as themselves)

Well, that was... different. [clears throat] Listener, I'm afraid you may be disappointed with my answer. We simply do not have the kind of vast, uninhabited space that you've grown used to.

You may find something more suitable in Scotland, especially in the Highlands. It's rather further than three hours, I'm afraid, but the next full moon falls on a Sunday, so you may be able to make a long weekend of it.

The Highland Council Department for Intergenus Affairs will be able to put you in touch with local packs with whom you may wish to inquire. Do not go up there without an invitation. Pack politics here are significantly more bureaucratic than in the United States – if you're familiar with the Canadian model, it bears some similarity to that. People are largely forgiving of mistakes made in earnest ignorance, but it's best to avoid causing offence in the first place.

I also recommend you go alone, rather than with a member of your London pack. Relations between the Scottish and English communities aren't what they could be, and you may be more warmly received as an unaffiliated American.

In the meantime, try to burn off that excess energy between transformations by upping your activity during the rest of the month – a morning yoga routine, cycling to work... You might even find some willing young men to wrap themselves in tinfoil and chase you round a quarry. Whatever gets you moving. With these steps, I hope you can find the balance you need to enjoy your stay.

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

The Presenter

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[End background music]

The Presenter

Tonight's second letter is from a listener wondering how to save face after an embarrassing mistake.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I don't know if you've answered something like this before – I haven't been listening for very long, only a few weeks. My friend put me onto you, he says you're marvellous.

I've spent my whole life being told I'm disgusting. One of the primary stereotypes about my genus is a lack of hygiene. It's completely unfounded, of course, but that's the thing about stereotypes. They are notoriously resistant to reason.

As a matter of fact, our culture places an enormous emphasis on personal cleanliness. It's so drilled into you, it doesn't even warrant a thought. You simply have not finished your meal until you've groomed. When I went to university I was shocked to discover some of my friends didn't even wash their hands after eating.

Not that I ate with them. My biology can be shocking to the uninitiated. Since I was a child, I haven't eaten in front of anyone but my family and a few long-term lovers. It was only in the last few months that I got up the courage to accept when one of my best friends invited me to eat with him.

I was terribly nervous beforehand, but it went well. He's a kind man and took any surprise at my eating habits in his stride. The experience was... liberating. My confidence was so boosted that, when a mutual friend of ours invited me to a dinner party, I felt able to accept.

The meal was lovely. If anyone was taken aback by my eating, again, they took it in their stride. And once we'd eaten, I started to groom as usual – and the room went silent. Nobody would meet my eyes.

My host smiled, a strange, forced thing, and asked me very, very politely if I might be more comfortable performing my ablutions in the bathroom.

I didn't know. I didn't realise. Of course, as soon as I thought about it, it was obvious. It's one thing to groom in front of family, but not at a dinner party! I just wasn't thinking. I'm mortified. Oh, I'm so appalled! I know I did the same when I was out with my friend that first time, he must have been horrified. Why wouldn't he tell me?

Do I apologise? Or should I just hide? Maybe forever. I'd quite like to hide forever. I'm sure I've revolted my friends, not to mention feeding into every terrible stereotype they've ever heard about my culture. How do I make amends for this appalling behaviour?

The Presenter (as themselves)

Let me make this abundantly clear. You are not responsible for others' prejudice. You don't owe it to anyone to disprove or counteract the stereotypes and misconceptions people have about your culture. Some people will treat you as representative of your community as a whole. That's on them. It's their prejudice, unlearning it is their responsibility. I fervently hope your friends will know better.

You're being incredibly hard on yourself, listener. This is not an unforgivable sin. At the very worst, you have committed a social faux pas in the company of people who love you.

Grooming yourself in company is indeed considered poor manners. But manners are hardly inherent. We aren't born knowing to chew with our mouth closed or that we oughtn't comment on a person's flavour while feeding on them. We learn from example and instruction. Your isolated eating habits have meant that you haven't had the opportunity to learn by seeing, and so needed this moment of instruction.

How you proceed from here is up to you. It would be perfectly reasonable of you to simply make a note of this new information and bear it in mind in the future. It needn't go any further if you don't think it would be helpful.

You certainly don't need to apologise to the other guests – it would amount to nothing more than self-flagellation. But, if you think it would give you closure, you can apologise to your host, and thank her for her good grace on the night itself.

As for your other friend, I'm sure he had very good reason not to bring it up with you before. I really wouldn't hold it against him. You can apologise if you like, but please, only do so if you think it will help you put this matter to rest.

You were a bit rude. It's not the end of the world. However you decide to deal with this this, please – do be more gentle with yourself.

Now, if you were celebrating St Patrick's Day this week, you might want to stay tuned for our next segment. The impact of Irish culture on the global creature community, from art and music to poetry and...

[The Presenter's voice fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-and kind of got trapped down here-”, rock music, and static before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

Episode Twenty Three of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by

H.R. Owen.

This episode's first letter was based on a submission by Wolfgang. Thanks, friend!

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

You can support Monstrous Agonies by rating and reviewing us on iTunes, sharing the programme with your friends and familiars, or supporting us on Patreon at

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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