Background to the Dark Ages series
There is a public school that looks a little bit like Hogwarts and an ancient church, Saint Wystan's, with a crypt.
The last Anglo-Saxon king of England had a short reign, which ended at the Battle of Hastings.
It is no coincidence that my least favourite month is named after probably the least glamorous god. January, dragged down by the cold, poverty and the post-Christmas famine, is the most dreary of months. And what is worse, January somehow manages to be the longest month lasting seven weeks. At least.
Chocolate and cake are still in abundance. Twinkling lights still on the tree. Christmas cards are still falling from their allotted holder every time the door opens. We can't move on though. It is that strange vacuum between Christmas and New Year where things aren't quite celebratory and yet aren't yet quite back to normal.
A huge and monstrous cat from Icelandic folklore, who eats people who have not received new clothes before Christmas eve. Horrific.
Every year the conversation goes like this:
Child - "Santa isn't real, he's my dad!"
Me - "Wow! Your dad is Santa? How cool is that?"
Kids have it all don't they? We know that Christmas is all about them, from the baby Jesus to Father Christmas/Santa Claus coming down the chimney to leave them gifts under the tree. From November and throughout December the marketing is all about them, too. Buy this doll that looks like a wrinkled newborn and produces stuff from its man-made orifices that's as ugly as anything nature can provide. Films and television are all about keeping the faith of Santa. All aimed at children and those who provide for them.
Legend has it that when the first Christmas advert for Coca-Cola appears on television, then Christmas proper has begun.
Sometimes we all need to get away for a bit. We need a place that is safe and out of reach, far from busybodies and those who bring us down. A refuge. All fugitives need a refuge. Actually - especially fugitives.
Probably the most successful English king you have never heard of.
It seems weirdly logical that the month following Halloween was once called 'Blood Month'.
Abbey Road, Mr Spock, castles, the headless horseman, gargoyles, cats, Dracula, ghosts, owls, teeth and not forgetting my logo. All of these are things I have seen carved into pumpkins. Brilliant, every one of them.
By October, the chilly nights and crispy mornings indicate that winter is coming. Throughout history, it has been a time to prepare.
The Battle of Hastings, where King Harold lost his life and the war against the Normans, forever remembered.
Sometimes nice people really mess things up. The simple act of being inoffensive can cause so much irreversible damage that it would be better if they had avoided diplomacy in favour of a whole load of aggro. Much better in the long run.
Apples have always been symbols of mysticism and love both in art and religion. But they are so much more than that.
Ahoy maties! 19 September be the day we talk like a pirate. So get yourself some grog, landlubbers, and hold off swabbing the decks for a while.
Decades before the Battle of Hastings, the English and the Normans were uneasy neighbours.The Vikings were at the height of their raids, robbing the rich monasteries and murdering the monks and priests.
And the Normans were helping them.
My daughter had to go to hospital for major surgery a few years ago. Naturally, as a parent, I was very worried about her. What if something went wrong? Of course I trusted the doctors, surgeons and other medical staff. I knew that they were the best in their field. But I needed more than that. I needed some kind of special divine power to intervene.
A few years ago, the school I taught in decided to change the history curriculum, which meant that the Year Seven children would not be studying the Battle of Bosworth in the summer term. The consequence of this was that the annual history trip was no more. I was very sad, and especially on the anniversary of the battle, 22 August (1485). The significance to history is that it was the start of the Tudor Dynasty, which led to the break with Rome, hence the birth of the Church of England. Children need this visit.
I, like most other people, stopped believing in dragons, elves, giants and fairies before I hit double figures. They just didn't make sense, there was no real evidence to support these things. Show me a photograph and I will believe the monsters existed. There were no photographs, so I stopped believing.
There is a place that conjures up everything that is magic in forests. If you have the gift, you can see it too. J.R.R. Tolkien had it and so did J.K. Rowling. And so do I.
It's strange to think how a sticky, sweet substance made by insects can wield so much power.
There were times during my childhood when we holidayed during the new school term, in September. It seemed to me, as an eight-year-old, that we were indulging in some kind of secret activity. In those days the holiday was in Wales, which still remains my favourite country.