More Byron Machin videos on YouTube

I see there’s another playlist of free videos, kindly released to YouTube by Byron Machin. Peak District History 2 is in addition to the playlist I previously noted on this blog.

The new videos offer another entertaining 120 minutes or so of roving the Staffordshire Moorlands and the Peak. In this case the viewer encounters: Sywthamley & The Roaches; the fisherman Izaak Walton & Dovedale; Springtime Wildlife & Wildflowers; The Eyam Plague; Croxden Abbey; and The Normans & Robin Hood.

In the Sywthamley section Byron gives a spirited full recounting of the plot of Sir Gawain, while standing in Lud’s Church. Definitely worth a listen, but skip this long section if you don’t want plot-spoilers for Gawain. If you do listen to his recounting of the tale, note that he misleadingly implies something that’s not in the original…

19:08: “Gawain heads down into the […] gigantic chasm covered in mosses and lichens and foliage [and] looking towards the very end of the chasm he sees there — taller than life — the [spoiler removed]”.

This tweaking serves to align the tale with popular local notions about Lud’s Church. But to do this Byron’s narration of the tale here conflates, distorts and also slightly invents, compared to the original text.

One also has to be cautious about his occasional sprinklings of seasonal ‘fairy lore’, as it sounds very dubious to me. I wonder where he’s picking it up?

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to be filmed

Filmmaker David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon, A Ghost Story) is to make a serious film of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The movie industry press report he’s signed on with respected film company A24. Some reports speculate the movie will be a revival of a former Terrence Malick (The New World) project, which was quite advanced but had to be abandoned by Malick. A full-on Arthurian Malick Green Knight would have been quite something.

But now Lowery (above) is picking it up, seemingly to make it rather than just to give an old project a brush down. Hopefully he’ll steer clear of a trendy shift into the modern day or to some post-apocalyptic setting. If his take on the movie does get into production, and is authentic, then I’d hope it might even be filmed on location in Wales and the Staffordshire Moorlands.

Hey, I might even sell a few of my new Gawain book to the production team. That’s happened before, actually. I once had an order from del Toro of 12 copies of my book on Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness, back when del Toro had a small team in early pre-production for his planned mega-movie adaptation of Mountains.

If you want to read Gawain before the movie then steer well clear of anything ‘Armitage’. Instead, for a readable introductory experience with the story go for the Brian Stone Penguin Classics translation of 1959. This is also available to borrow as an ebook for free, on

R. J. Mitchell for the £50 note

In the Stone Gazette, Campaign for R. J. Mitchell to appear on new £50 note.

Looks great. Though I’ve been a bit dubious about this ‘call to nominate’, as I suspect the final decision will be political. They may even already have someone lined up who ticks all the boxes.

Locally, our scientist can’t be Sir Oliver Lodge, great as he was — because he also wrapped himself up in a whole lot of spiritualist nonsense for decades. To use him would be interpreted by the literal-minded outrage-junkies as an endorsement of spiritualism, and journalists desperate for click-bait would then stir up a unwanted media ‘debate’ and hoo-haa about it.

But R. J. Mitchell is a strong choice. A bit too much of an engineer rather than a scientist, perhaps, in terms of what they seem to want on this £50 note. But he should certainly be put forward strongly, in the hope he might be filed away for use on future notes.

It would also be nice to see Staffordshire’s Erasmus Darwin so honoured, at some point in the future.

Byron Machin’s Peak District History series – now on YouTube

Byron Machin has just posted his Peak District History: A Landscape History of the Peak District series on YouTube for free, and with a playlist. At a rough calculation the total running time is about 120 minutes.

Just keep in mind that a chunk of the stated ‘Spring Customs’ lore is rather dubious, by the sound of it. But he’s fine on the geology, industrial history, botany, railway history and similar.

Five new Tolkien lectures from Oxford

Five new online lectures on Tolkien and his interest in languages, from Oxford, with one per podcast. I have no interest in the intricacies of his invented languages, but in this case it’s real languages such as Old Norse.

Regrettably they’ve only put up the videos, and they’re over a Gb each to download and there’s no plucking torrent so the download speed can’t be throttled back. We don’t all have gigaspeed Internet like Oxford does.