Whenever I was at my Granddad’s house, he always used to say ‘everything here is yours, take whatever you want.’ He was a good Yorkshire man with a solid heart and a decent word for everyone. He loved his countryside, his flat cap, and his bargains.
One bargain of his was a copy of Folklore, Myths, And Legends Of Britain which, like most of the books he owned, was picked up at a car boot sale for a few pence. One day we’d gone for Sunday Lunch and I’d forgotten to bring something to read. In a panic, I ran upstairs and investigated his bookcase where I found the tome huddled next to books about gardening and the Metcalfe clan.
I took it downstairs and asked my Granddad if I could read it. Almost immediately he said to me, ‘take it, it’s yours.’ Normally I would have argued lightly with him, saying that I couldn’t possibly…but this time I felt like I needed to take it home, that it needed to be with me.
Not long, maybe a few months or so after I took the book home (I dipped in and out of it but never finished it) my Granddad passed away. His death sent a tidal wave of grief through me and I went on to have a nervous breakdown. The book was put somewhere safe and for years I didn’t touch it.
The other week, seven years after my Granddad died, I found the book, opened it up, and started from the beginning. Almost at once I needed to put it down and take a breather. The quality of writing and the pictures, the good, dedicated, powerful energy I got from it was almost overwhelming. I went back after a few minutes and read each page with the sort of thoroughness that left me stoked with joy and knowledge.
The way the book is laid out is really special. Separated into three different parts – Lord of Britain, Romance of Britain and People of Myth – it’s laid out more like a magazine, so if you want to dip in and out you can, instead of reading it cover to cover. On this occasion, I’m reading it from beginning to end, relishing each page and ensuring I’ve digested everything before moving onto the next. The first part covers subjects such as seasons and festivals, creatures, nursery rhymes, and ancient superstitions. The second part is dedicated to regional stories from across Great Britain, for example, the origin of place names and haunting. And finally, the third part is all about important figures in Britain’s folklore such as King Arthur, Robert Burns, and William Wallace.
Now, as I write this, I’m only 50 pages in. With every turn, I’m finding myself reaching for my notebook to scribble down something fascinating or make a note about a poem or a story I want to write, inspired by what I’ve just read. If your heart is telling you to get a copy, you can find it here on Amazon. Believe me when I say it will be one of the wisest investments you’ll ever make.