A Night with the Irish Beast


3/15/20243 min read

It was one of those nights that storytellers relish and the faint-hearted dread. The kind of night that makes a man question the line between reality and the ghostly tales of old. There I was, young, virile and audacious, parked in my trusty Mini, a vehicle not known for its spacious interiors but cherished for its spirit. The setting was Hunscote Lane near Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield, remote and silent, save for the wrath of the storm that enveloped us.

The tempest was in full swing, hurling leaves and debris like confetti at a parade gone mad. It was a bit spooky, to say the least. The eerie dance of the shadows around made the small copse beside us seem alive, as if nature itself whispered secrets long forgotten.

Now, I must confess, I wasn’t alone. The company of a woman, in those days, was a straightforward affair, unburdened by the complexities of modern identities. The Mini, with its windows steaming up from our breaths, became a crucible of youthful desires. The contortionist act required to shift from driver to passenger side in the confines of a Mini was a comedy of errors, a ballet of limbs and suppressed chuckles, testament to the folly of youth.

The climactic moment was upon us, our eyes locked, the world outside faded into irrelevance. But then, as fate would have it, a shiver ran down my spine, not from the cold or the brewing passion, but from an instinctive sense of dread. Turning my head, what greeted me was a sight so grotesque, so unnaturally fearsome, it could freeze the very blood in your veins.

Pressed against the window was a visage so horrendous, it seemed as if plucked from a gothic horror. A face, if one could call it that, grotesque and contorted, drooling slobber down the glass in thick, viscous trails. It was an image straight out of 'The Hound of the Baskervilles,' only this was no literary fiction. The creature, enormous and looming, peered down at us with eyes that knew no humanity.

The romantic fervour that had filled the car just moments before evaporated like mist under a scorching sun. I reeled back, heart pounding, as the creature dissolved into the night from which it came. In that moment, my only thought was escape; the unfinished business of young love forgotten under the weight of primal fear.

The next day, the storm's fury had given way to the serene calm that often follows chaos. Over a cup of tea, I relayed the night’s eerie encounter to my boss, Ted Edgar, a farmer not prone to flights of fancy. His reaction, a mix of amusement and revelation, added the final piece to the puzzle. Ted explained that he had received a call from our neighbours, Lord and Lady Docker, in a frenzy over their missing pet. The fearsome beast that had turned our romantic escapade into a scene of terror was none other than their beloved Irish Wolfhound, known for its imposing stature but gentle heart.

The revelation brought a mix of relief and laughter. The monstrous entity of the night before was but a lost and probably equally frightened dog. Our fearsome interloper had merely been seeking shelter or perhaps even company. The irony of the situation wasn't lost on me; a night of passion thwarted by an oversized, drooling canine.

In the comedy of life, this night would stand out as a vibrant sketch, etched distinctly in the backdrop of my myriad experiences a reminder of the unpredictable nature of youth, love, and the creatures that roam the English countryside. And as for the Mini, it served not just as a vehicle but as a theatre to one of the most bizarre nights of my life.

© Peter Pickering 2024. www.peterpickering.com