Advice on A Dullahan’s Terms of Employment.

This week’s problem comes from Ireland and concerns the extent of a spectre’s job responsibilities.

The detached heads of passengers are a recurring problem for dullahans

Dear Aunt Grizelda,

I feel as if my employers are not paying me fairly for my work. I drive passengers by carriage throughout Ireland: but as I travel through the countryside, I am also expected to call out the names of those about to die. Surely this is the job of a herald?

Another gripe I have concerns the passengers: like myself they have detached heads. On a bumpy lane this can result in them arriving at their destination with a different head from the one they started out with. It is always me that has to sort out the confusion, and I am not paid extra for this.

I am thinking of asking my employers for an increase in salary to reflect these additional responsibilities. Do you think I have a case?

Yours,

A Spectre.

Dear A Spectre,

Since the dawn of time dullahans have announced the names of those about to die, and therefore, even if it isn’t written into your employment contract, it is an integral part of the job. Consequently, you have no hope of extra pay for doing it.

With regard to reassigning passengers’ heads at the end of a trip, you are on firmer ground. Before the explosion of public liability claims, passengers cheerfully accepted a bumpy ride could result in a new look. However, these days, they can turn quite nasty about it. But is it your responsibility to sort out? It rather depends what it says under the Job Responsibilities section of your employment contract.

Go read!

Yours sincerely,

Aunt Grizelda.

P.s. Should any of your passengers actually assault you, you may have a claim against your employers under insufficient Health and Safety provision.

Problem Page: A Fishy Romance?

This week’s problem comes from a mermaid on the South Coast of England.

The young lady wishes to remain anonymous.

Dear Aunt Grizelda,

Every evening a young man comes down to fish in the cove where I live and I suspect he’s taken a fancy to me. At first he just kept glancing over to where I was sunning myself on the rocks, but now he throws me pieces of bait.

Yesterday evening he arrived in the cove with a surfboard and started paddling out towards me. I felt shy, so I dived deep below the waves, but now I wish I hadn’t. My friends say I shouldn’t trust him and that he probably wants to catch me for re-sale purposes. But he’s got a really nice smile, kind eyes, and the bait is delicious. Should I trust my gut feelings and let him get closer, or keep him at tail’s length?

Miss X

Dear Miss X,

Young men with nice smiles and kind eyes should never be trusted, but more importantly, have you seriously considered the problems inter-species relationships bring? A mermaid /human combination would be fraught with difficulties right from the start.

For example, how could he wine and dine you? If you went to a restaurant under the waves, he couldn’t eat because of his aqua lung; and if you went to a restaurant on land, the chef might mistake you for the fish course. Also his parents would be unlikely to welcome you as their daughter-in-law as humans will go to great lengths to avoid fishy aromas in the home and generally avoid getting their soft furnishings wet.

Reluctant as I am to pour cold water on this budding love affair, I cannot in all conscience recommend you to pursue it. Find a new cove in which to relax and remember there are always more fish in the sea.

Aunt Grizelda

Aunt Grizelda’s Problem Page

A letter today all the way from Egypt, but on that universal theme – insurance claims.

Dear Aunt Grizelda,

My tomb was recently raided, the thieves taking two golden statuettes of Osiris, an enamelled Canopic jar with Anubis head handle, and a throne with ruby, lapis lazuli and sapphire decoration.

I immediately contacted my insurance company who sent round one of their assessors. A few days later I received a scroll telling me they could not pay out because my curse protection system was not set at a strong enough level to deter break-ins.

I pointed out this is only the second time in four thousand years that thieves have managed to get in and five of the six who broke in on that first occasion met swift and grisly ends. Unfortunately the survival of the sixth to a rich and happy old age is in their opinion sufficient to demonstrate a fundamental weakness in my curse security system.

What can I do?

Yours HRH T

The stolen Canopic jar.




Your Highness,

Many of my readers will sympathise with your predicament. Insurance companies are not what they were and insurance assessors are known to seek the smallest excuse by which to reject a claim.

I recall a similar incident back in the 1920s when Egyptian tombs were under daily assaults. One mummy, like you, was told his tomb was not protected by a strong enough curse. He decided to demonstrate its efficacy by cursing the assessor, who, but a day later, was killed in a camel stampede. The insurers were suitably convinced by this and paid out handsomely. Even the no claims bonus was left intact.

Of course, the above was an extreme response and before resorting to anything similar you could contact the Association of Pyramid Insurers, who will investigate your complaint, and in the meantime a warning message in blood-red hieroglyphs may deter the more cowardly or opportunist thief.

Good luck,

Aunt Grizelda.

Aunt Grizelda’s Problem Page: Advice to a Scottish Queen.

Family mistrust is a pernicious thing and can often prevent family members accepting help from each other and this is exemplified in today’s missive from a queen north of the border.

Hail to you Mistress Grizelda,

I would pose thee a question regarding the trust betwixt cousins.

Mine own fair cousin is monarch of a land that doth border mine own, but she is beloved of her people and ministers, and doth hold full sway over them, whilst I am beset by rogues and traitors that would hurry me from hence to my grave. In consequence, thereof, I am minded to accept the sanctuary she hast most recently offered me.

Howsomever, it is said by some that her sweet missives offer false hope, and cometh from a grasping, wolfish heart – that in truth, she doth seek to steal Scotland from me.

What course should I take?

Adieu and God rest you merry,

M. Q of S. 

Dear M Q of S,

As G. H. Lewes wrote, “Murder, like talent, seems occasionally to run in families.” And never was this truer than when the family in question is royal. The briefest scan of a history book reveals a shocking litany of horrid murders of kings and queens that in the most part were plotted by their nearest and dearest. And for why? Power. And what avails more power? More land.

But of course, your cousin is currently in a very strong position while you are in a weak one, and while good sense might caution you from throwing yourself upon her mercy, surely she would not sleep easy were anything to befall a sister queen?

It seems to me you have little option but to accept your cousin’s offer and I am sure all will be well if you can demonstrate to her your thankfulness.

Good luck, (and hide a dagger beneath your farthingale just to be on the safe side.)

Aunt Grizelda.

Career Advice for a Scottish Wraith

The following problem was sent to me by a Scottish gentleman and concerns his prospects for career advancement.

Dear Aunt Grizelda,

I’m working nichts at a Highland castle that gies holiday accommodation to Sassenachs. Mony o’ them are braw pleasant and gie muckle appreciation o’ my haunting skills wi’ grete screams and trimbling. And on one occasion a lassie would nae return to her room once she’d spied me there.

The problem is, it’s the same auld routine nicht after nicht. I’d love a change o’ scene. However, I ken I  need a level four GNVQ in order to progress to palace haunting and it’s a lang course. Can ye tell me if there’s any quick way aroond this?

Thank you.

R the B

Dear R the B,

Haunting, by its very nature, is confined to a particular place, and yes that can lead to feelings of being trapped. But changing location can be tricky (vacancies are rare) and as you rightly noted, a GNVQ 4 (Ghostly National Vocational Qualification) is a requirement for palaces, abbeys and cathedrals, and the course lasts a century.

There are of course things you can do to relieve the tedium. Ratcheting up the weird happenings with louder bumps, scarier costumes and blood curdling screams, is not only a lot of fun, but may cause the castle owner to bring in an exorcist. Depending on the exorcist’s skill, this could result in you being transported to a new location: but you will have no choice over which one, and could end up haunting somewhere unglamorous such as alley or factory.

My favoured solution would be to attach yourself to a guest you take a liking to. If they can afford to stay at a castle they are most likely wealthy enough to own a large and elegant home. And if the guest is American, you can be sure of an enthusiastic welcome in the United States. I hear Trump Tower is particularly good for ghosts.

Good Luck!

Aunt Grizelda.

The Black Castle: R the B’s current haunting location.

Aunt Grizelda’s Problem Page

Due to the huge amounts of mail I receive asking for advice, I have decided, dear readers, to start a problem page. All correspondence, of course, will be dealt with in the strictest confidence and the names of correspondents limited to initials.

Dear Aunt Grizelda,

Since the arrival of the spring equinox my mood has been decidedly low. I find it hard to rise from my coffin in the evening, and even a glass of the finest O negative does nothing to revive my enthusiasm for luring beautiful girls to my castle. Could it be my age?

Yours listlessly,

Count D.

Dear Count D,

Your age is unlikely to be a factor. The symptoms you describe are classic for what the medical community term SSAD – spring and summer affective disorder. Although I know you don’t venture out during daylight hours, nevertheless, the increased sunlight seeping through blinds and beneath doors can disrupt hormone levels, resulting in reduced energy levels.

To counter this you might try a dark box. This is a device which radiates dark matter, thus returning hormone levels to where they should be. You simply need to sit before it for half an hour each night prior to returning to your coffin. Do this until the draining spring and summer months are over.

Personally, I would recommend the DM X20, manufactured by ParaSonic.

Yours helpfully,

Aunt Grizelda.

So remember readers, whether you’re from the fae or mortal world, you can contact me for advice at any time: Aunt Grizelda – telling you what to do so you don’t have to decide.