Tuesday, 25 August 2009

39: Getting stinky at Dozmary and being chased by demons

Issue 39, autumn 2004

Cornish World is Cornwall’s best magazine – official.
The Gorseth at their annual Holyer An Gof awards ceremony awarded a certificate to Cornish World for its contribution to Cornish publishing, being the only magazine to win such an award.

A panel of Cornish academics stated that Cornish World brought people together from all over the world and was ‘bright, colourful, well-presented and full of information’.
So I’d like to thank the contributors, subscribers, the editorial and administrative team and the readers for making Cornish World the success it is.

The front cover shot – pretty realistic, I’d say. However, there’s a tale behind that. As we believe in keeping things authentic at Cornish World, rather than reconstruct an image of a sword in a lake with some computer trickery, we thought we’d go to Dozmary Pool on Bodmin Moor, throw a sword into the waters and see what would happen.

Well, we didn’t quite go that far but we did have a wetsuit and a pair of goggles in the car.

Dozmary Pool isn’t bottomless as legend suggests. It’s quite shallow and stinky with sludgy mud. So we went to nearby Colliford Lake and set up the cameras. It was horrible. The water was murky and foul. It was bitterly cold, sheep kept trying to get in the picture and I was scared in case something grabbed me from the depths.
I lay under the water for as long as I could waving a heavy sword around in the air. The knee-deep sludge had been stirred up and the water looked like strong black tea. It certainly didn’t taste like tea. The shoot finished when I spied two sheep at the water’s edge urinating.

Although I said I scared in case something grabbed me, I wasn’t that aprehensive as I don’t believe in lake monsters anymore. However, I’ll tell you of a time when something big from the dark did get me.

I lived on a farm about a mile and half from Helston. When I was in my early 20s, I used to walk to The Blue Anchor in Helston, have a couple of jars of Spingo and stroll home.
The best way to walk back is up Gypsy Lane and through a couple of our fields. One winter night, blowing a gale, I was stanking home to roost when I suddenly got the fear. I can’t say why, just felt very nervous all of a sudden. I’d come out of Gypsy Lane (that’s meant to be haunted by the Squire) and had just clambered over the stile into Gypsy Field. I thought I could hear someone following me. I had once had an extremely frightful experience here previously (another story, that one) and so fright was shaking me from between the legs.

I started to walk faster and, in the wind, I could unmistakably hear heavy plodding footsteps behind me. I walked faster again and I heard the footsteps get quicker and start to gain on me. I told myself not to run but it was too late, I had already started to trot and the sound of the pounding steps multiplied.

“My Christ,” I thought. “There’s a army of demons after me now. I best run for the gate.”

I was halfway across the five acre field and could see the gap where the closed gate was.

I started to sprint for the gate and the sound of footsteps started to beat on the soft turf.

The beating turning to galloping and, against all mental advice, I looked behind me to see what a headless horsemen brandishing swords looked like. All I saw was eyes and then; thump.

I hit something huge, warm, hard and wet. I went down in the muddy grass, winded, and nervously glanced up to see my pursuer. Cows. Father’s herd of Guernseys. I had been followed by the cows and run straight into one in my panic. It took a few minutes for me to calm down, and the cows had a good sniff in the meantime. I got back safetly, albeit exhausted, bruised and muddy.

So the lesson. Never look back, always look forward but always remember what field you left the cows in.

Nigel Pengelly, Editor.
www.cornishworldmagazine.co.uk Pictured: Nigel Pengelly in Dozmary Pool holding a sword.


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