Although we have recently been preoccupied with some other popular-culture boondoggle that apparently ought to be worthy of a scribble, this year I thought I'd focus my attention on that other festive date that's often a bit of an afterthought, falling as it does in the wake of that merchandise-bloated celebration of death and all. I speak, of course, of Guy Fawkes' Night.
It has been a while (if ever) since your corpsish correspondent has ruminated upon matters of contemporary cinema (or the "wazzock's lantern" as it was affectionately known by people living centuries after my death), but a recent release has made it justifiable.
As our keenest followers will know, Witchery Tours founder Robin Mitchell also created the windy, rugby-loving Princess Pumpalot in the successful children's book of the same name.
The Princess and her Wiffyville chums then took a step further, jumping from the page to the stage at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013. They haven't left since, with 2017 marking an astounding fifth year of full-throated flatulent fun.
27th April 1601: On this date Archibald Cornwall, town officer of Edinburgh, was hanged as a consequence of a terrible misunderstanding over his attempt to display a portrait of King James VI.
As today marks two hundred and six years since the execution of Adam Lyal (nice round number), we take the opportunity to look back at the life of Edinburgh's best-known working stiff.
Almost nothing has been learned of Adam's parentage or early life, other than that he was born in 1785 (he gave his age as 25 at his arrest), and had a younger brother John, born in 1789, and a sister Catharine whose age is unknown.
Our co-Founder and the original Adam Lyal (deceased), Robin Mitchell, described his recent visit to Loretto School in Musselburgh to deliver the Loretto Lecture as 'a real joy'.
12th February 1829 - Just over two weeks after the execution of William Burke for the notorious West Port murders, a crowd gathers on Calton Hill. Bearing an effigy of Dr Robert Knox, they march to his house in Newington and there, after hanging their effigy from a tree in view of his window and setting it alight, stage a riot.
The twenty-eighth of January is a date very well-known to all my ghosts: it's the date when, in 1829, the notorious "Body Snatcher" (or more accurately, multiple murderer) William Burke made his appointment with the hangman's noose at Edinburgh's Mercat Cross, on The Royal Mile. The execution is said to have been attended by a crowd numbering in the thousands, with the cheer that arose at the fateful moment being clearly audible three miles away in the port of Leith.
You are invited to the next Loretto Lecture at The Painted Gallery, Pinkie House, Loretto School, Musselburgh on Wednesday 8th March 2017 at 7pm.
Our co-founder and the original Adam Lyal (deceased), Robin Mitchell, will chat about his 33 years as a 'ghost' on our evening walking tours. Robin co-founded the company in 1984 and has developed the business from walking tours to publishing books, producing films and writing plays.
Above: The Cadies Christmas card 2008. Photo by Neil Hodgins.
Although Christmas isn't a particularly spooky festival, it does tend to bring out the rather warped creativity of my ghostly ensemble. Over the years, the Cadies have blighted the letterboxes of a select few (hundred) close chums with some quite out-of-the-ordinary seasonal greetings-cards. Here we present a few of our favourites.