Tyburn Jig

Flash fiction from The Last Inklings

Tyburn Jig

There are many excellent examples of English violins and cellos built during the war, however, some makers were forced to be inventive with local woods as quality maple and ebony were in short supply.

Late in the summer of 1941, a small Dorset village hired a team from the parish church to cut down an ancient gallows tree to make way for allotments, and the townspeople helped themselves to the felled wood.

About a year later, it’s said that a local craftsman unveiled one of the finest cellos ever seen, not far from where the old hanging tree once stood.

They say it has a truly exquisite sound, but there’s an air of unease in the peculiar way it sings so gleefully when playing a reel, or more unnervingly, a jig...

One, Two, Three...

Badbury Rings is an Iron Age hillfort in Dorset, England that dates back to around 800 BC.

Right next to it is a road lined with hundreds and hundreds of beech trees, apparently one for each day of the year.

Rumour has it that if you can count the exact number correctly then you are granted a wish.

But if you get it wrong by just one, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be seen again.

High stakes involve high risks, and some locals say that the trees have a habit of moving around when you aren’t looking...

Practise Makes Perfect

Mandolins are funny little instruments, but don’t let their size fool you.

Many are widely adored for having such a sweet sound, but they can have a darker side too.

One such instrument is rumoured to be played by its owner all day long, everyday, and every night.

It’s said to have been passed down through many generations following a string of mysterious accidents.

So make sure you give your own instrument the attention it deserves, or it might start to look for someone who will.

The Telling of the Bees

Bees are well known for making honey but they are also a prime example of the collective unconscious. The hive mind is a curious thing that is not yet fully understood.

It used to be said that many years ago beekeepers would whisper family secrets to their hives, and that the bees would inform the spirits of their ancestors. They would act as a medium between this world and the next, keeping every generation up to date with important events.

But be careful to mind your manners around the hive. If they don’t like your tone of voice then you’ll quickly learn that an angry beehive is no place to hang around..

Shifting Sands

Did you know there’s a small island in Poole Harbour that you can walk out to at low tide? Many years ago it was used by smugglers to stash their goods, and some say there are a few priceless artefacts left behind, hidden only by time.

Local fishermen have been known to spread rumours about a ghost that haunts the island, but most people quite rightly dismiss them as nonsense. What you’ve really got to look out for are the deceptively quick tides that can easily leave you stranded.

And once you’re all alone on this unearthly patch of land, there’s nowhere to run. Before long you might hear a soft squelching sound getting louder and louder, but you can’t tell where it’s coming from. It’s at this point you might come to realise that there are much worse things out there than the ghosts of lost smugglers...

Leonardo MacKenzie
Leonardo MacKenzie
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Leonardo MacKenzie

Leo is a cellist, singer and sometime writer with experimental duo The Last Inklings. Rooted in literature and folklore from Campbell to Tolkien, storytelling is at the core of their music.


See all posts by Leonardo MacKenzie