Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Folk Horror Podcast Episode 5: Robin Redbreast (1970), pt. 2

The red red robin comes bob bob bobbin' along, and so does The Folk Horror Podcast!

Listen below. 

I has some audio problems in the second half, but the good news is that I've set up my studio so that all audio going forward should sound A LOT better.

Audio snippets were from The Carice Singers (performing Peter Warlock) and Lisa Knapp.

Go to work on an egg.

Almost as brutal as Watership Down.

Rob considers one last Karate chop.

Don't look back.

The Village Green Preservation Society.

Interesting detail -- blood on Wellbeloved?
Something we didn't mention is that, if the characters do represent mystical beings at the end that instead of Herne the Hunter, Fisher could be Cernunnos, the celtic god. Though there are possible connections between Herne and Cernunnos anyway.

From Mike:

Hypnogoria podcast episode on the robin: http://hypnogoria.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/microgoria-22-christmas-and-robin.html

Mike also wanted to share this video from Folk Horror fan Jenny Hval:


  1. A few notes again:

    I didn’t really notice anything unusual about the Harvest Festival at the church. It looked to me mostly like a normal Church of England (aka Anglican) Harvest Festival. You find Harvest Festivals like this still today in village churches, even city churches, all over England. The inclusion of the dead animals may have been unusual, I don’t think you would find this in a modern Harvest Festival, but maybe this was more common in the olden days?

    Harvest Festival is an example of what I was mentioning in an earlier post about how when Christianity came to Great Britain they had to accommodate the local agricultural customs. Even when during the Protestant reformation the Puritans tried to eliminate everything they considered “Pagan” from English Christianity, they still kept the Harvest Festival. A Harvest Festival held in 1621 by a group of English Protestants who had settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts became the basis of the American holiday called Thanksgiving.

    Mike was struggling for the correct title of the clergyman in the church. The custom among ordinary English people is to call a priest of the Church of England a “vicar” (pronounced like “vicker”). Mrs. Vigo calls him the “parson” however. (Nevertheless, the pictures of the church make it clear it is quite an old church, so must be Church of England). You and Mike seem to sometimes have trouble understanding Mrs. Vigo because of her rural English dialect. What she explains to Norah is that the parson only comes to the church one out of every four Sundays. I would assume, for example, that he is the vicar for four different congregations, and splits his Sundays between them. The people in this village demanded, through Mr. Fisher, that the Parson make sure to be with them for the Harvest Festival and also on Easter. But weren’t too concerned about other holidays such as Christmas.

    Norah does own a television set in the cottage. We never seem to see its screen, just the back of it. And we also hear the sounds from it. Mike isn’t correct when he says it is a radio. I do wonder if we could identify what opera is playing on the television there might be some significance (for example, is it Wagner?). What you call an “Easter Service” doesn’t really seem to be one. Because the speaker on the television says asks whether there really was such a person as Jesus Christ, and whether he actually rose from the dead.

    (more to come)

  2. In other matters, in the old Robin Hood ballads Robin Hood does bleed to death, as Mr. Fisher says. He gets ill as he gets older, and goes to get a “bleeding” which was a common medical treatment in the Middle Ages. He goes to his cousin, who is the Prioress of Kirklees Priory, for this treatment. But his cousin betrays him, and, instead of performing the bleeding properly, intentionally cuts open a vein, causing him to bleed to death. Kirklees Priory is now a ruin, but nearby there is a monument which is supposedly the grave of Robin Hood. Most say that this monument seems to be from the eighteenth century, but there are written references to the grave earlier that, so maybe the current monument replaces an older one.

    But I am not aware of any version of the story where Robin Hood’s blood makes the crops grow. That seems to be Mr. Fisher’s invention (or John Bowen’s). The oldest Robin Hood stories are fairly “realistic” in that they don’t have any magic or supernatural elements.

    Now, the mystery of the costumes at the end. Norah’s car is now working, and she drives past the villagers, and they are dressed normally. Then she turns her head to look behind her, and suddenly they are dressed in strange costumes. So no, there isn’t any way they could have changed their clothing suddenly. I wonder if perhaps the solution does come from Euripides’ play the Bacchae. Through most of the play, the god Dionysus is in disguise. But eventually Pentheus begins to see through the disguise, which includes seeing horns growing from Dionysus’ head.

    And looking at the name “Robin”. Robin is just an ordinary English name. It is a diminutive of Robert, an old Germanic name known in England even before the Norman conquest. Both Robert and Robin are very common names historically in England.

    What happened is that in the middle ages, English people had a strange custom of giving ordinary human names to birds. So the bird known as a “daw” was given the name “Jack”, and is called a “jackdaw” to this very day. The “pie” was named “Mag” (short for Margaret) and is still called “magpie”. The “wren” was named “jenny”, references to “Jenny Wren” are usually poetical. And of course the “redbreast” was given the ordinary English boy’s name “Robin”, becoming “Robin Redbreast”. After a while, this was just shortened to “Robin” which is what the bird is called today.

    Once again my comments ended up being longer than I expected!

  3. insightful observations on a brilliant and subtle episode of obscure British TV show. ( Not an easy task) Grateful to Neil for having turned me on to many of these terrifying treats. lovely video too.