Sunday, 26 July 2015

Folk Horror - Echoes of Scarfolk Council

Scarfolk Council is the folk horror invention of Richard Littler. His genuinely creepy and disturbing (and often very funny) blog is at  He is also part of the relatively new 'hauntology' music movement which creates unearthly and uncanny ambient sounds that suggest ghostly presences.

A play list we have created on YouTube is designed to give some cultural clues to the invention but, to be honest, I suspect you have to be a child or teenager of the 1970s to recall in retrospect just how creepy life was in those days with children's programmes and public warnings that did not hold back on terror, the threat of nuclear war, mysterious unaccountable authority and, as you will see in the third item, Jimmy Saville at his disturbing peak. Scarfolk Council's own Channel is at

Littler is excellent at bringing out the demonic potential of ordinary life, the anxieties over class, parenting and education, the links of England to its pagan past (the death of Mrs Payne found fossilised inside an ancient standing stone is emblematic) and the power of TV both to create a shared reality and subvert it in an age when whole families would sit around the electronic hearth and enter each other's preferred world - from Children of the Stones to Morecambe & Wise - only to see the kinderlings packed off to bed before the 9.00PM threshold and the arrival of the brutal reality of the News and the downbeat torments offered by Play for Today.

It would be hard for modern kids to understand that environment now - the strict routines, lack of stimulation, long boring Sundays, easy expression of sublimated fear, the demand of adults that they be 'looked up to' (even when they were being morons), the dragging survival of church-going and games as enforced penance, the way the sheep were separated from the intellectual goats, sex as the dark force of which nothing may be spoken ... and all this was only half a century ago.  It is no accident that a few of the adults of that generation are now appearing in the tabloids as alleged abusers of children. The unwritten story is of the abuse of others by repressed fathers who were imprisoned in their homes like their children and wives no less than Victorian women were once imprisoned and abused in theirs. Littler captures the era as one of 'miasma' for many lost souls.