Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Preparing for World Book Week

HPM had another large day today, after I took full advantage of the girls return to school - Feeling pretty "smug" about all of the bookings for next week, it suddenly dawned on me that outlets for the HPM are still limited to shops in and around the Stockport area.

Having already established a small profile with Waterstones, I rang the Warrington, Bury and Blackpool branches and told them how good the book was, and that I was in their respective areas during World Book Week and would they like to stock my book - this resulted in orders from all three shops, and an additional reading at the Bury branch on Friday 5th.

I also managed to place books with Plackitt and Booth in Blackpool, http://www.plackittandbooth.co.uk/page5.html

and also the pleasantly named bookstore "Curiosity Bookstore" in Runcorn. http://curiositybookshop.tbpcontrol.co.uk/TBP.Web/CustomerAccessControl/Home.aspx?d=curiositybookshop&s=C&r=10000147&ui=0&bc=0 So after a relatively slow start, February looks like it is going to be a good month.

I also contacted the organisers of the Edinburgh Book Festival, to see how my application to take part had been received, and was told to not be so impatient as these things take time. ( patience isn't my strongest characteristic.)

A couple of weeks ago, I made contact with Honor Giles, the organiser of the local Lymm Festival who seemed quite enthusiastic about my taking part. I emailed Honor again today and had a good chat about "Golden Arm" which I told her I heard once as a small boy and re-jigged. I was delighted to receive her version of "Golden Arm" which she orates as part of her other role as a real "storyteller".

The version below is distilled for publication and much more detailed in the telling.


The version I tell involves a rich landowner's beloved and beautiful wife who loses her arm in a riding accident. He can't bear to see her so depressed, especially when she won't go out in company any more or wear her gorgeous frocks, so he gets all the famous doctors in the country to come up with a solution, and one comes up with a new technique to attach a false arm, but it has to be made of solid gold. The landowner sells most of his assets to pay for the gold, and for a year the transplant is a success and his wife becomes sociable again and even becomes quite proud of this new limb. By this time her husband has very little land or money left and has to beg for work, but to him the sacrifice is worth it. His wife eventually succumbs to infection and dies, and is buried with her arm. After grieving terribly and becoming more or less penniless, he realises that the only way he will survive is by reclaiming the arm and selling the gold. He goes to the graveyard at dead of night, choosing Halloween so that the neighbours will think it is the ghouls and ghosts at work, and digs up the coffin (lots of ghastly description of what a rotting body feels like to touch!) and eventually he finds the arm and runs home in a dreadful state, dashes upstairs and flings the arm under the bed, jumps in and covers himself with the blankets. Once his heart has stopped hammering, he calms down, but then he hears the sound of a horse coming up the gravel drive, then the sound of footsteps coming to the front door, then the footsteps coming up the stairs, then along the corridor, then the sound of the bedroom door opening, then the footsteps coming towards the bed, then the covers are pulled back from his face and sees the spectral figure of his wife. He is so overwhelmed by her loss of beauty that he asks her "Where is your beautiful chestnut hair" and she replies "Gone ... all gone" in sepulchral tones. He asks about her eyes, nose, lips and lily white throat and she repeats her reply in an ever-increasingly ghoulish fashion. Eventually, forgetting himself for the moment, he asks "And where is your beautiful golden arm?? ................YOU'VE GOT IT!

I think it is really interesting that there are versions which reverse the gender role, and where as your version is strong on revenge and just deserts, my version depends on a build up from a love story into something horribly macabre. I was told it by a storyteller Taffy Thomas, who heard it from Norma Waterson who said it was a Yorkshire tale, but I suspect one can hear versions of it all over the UK!


  1. the story is an old tale....there are versions all over the world...mark twain even wrote one

  2. http://www.folktale.net/golden_arm.html