I'm now deep in the throes of writing my thesis, and unable to get away from ghosts no matter how hard I try. I even received a Christmas card this morning illustrating the M.R. James story 'Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad'. The card's manufacturer insists that 'Ghost stories are a tradition at Christmas'. This is true enough, and there's plenty of scope for research into traditions of telling literary ghost stories for seasonal entertainment, but I've put any other research projects on hold until I'm done with this thesis.
I'm looking forward to an end to this odd year, and looking forward to the promise of a new one. I can't think of a better way of marking the season than with a photo of a splendid winter house-visiting custom from East Kent, the Hooden Horse. This picture is of the St Nicholas at Wade horse. I had a rare chance to photograph them out of season (and away from their home turf) on 29 March 2008 when they performed at the Kent Gathering of Traditional Music in Frittenden. (Along with their history, Ben Jones's fine website on hoodening also has details of the script they used that day). It was a treat, and the thought of it cheers me up for the new year.