Category Archives: Updates

Update: When The Swallows Come Back to Capistrano…

Hey all just a quick update. I’ve got this week’s blog post written, and the corresponding podcast episode recorded. I’m in the midst of putting the final mix, and background music together tonight. It might arrive a little late (Thurs, maybe Friday?) due to a couple of things I’ve got going on at the moment. 

Those things are little things, mostly. I always run the script for podcast episodes twice. When I got to the second run on this one, an arborist had set up two houses down to cut down some trees. Thinking I’d come back to it in a days’ time, a weather bomb settled in over much of New Zealand and we had close to a week of rain clanking against the metallic (tin?) weatherboards.

I don’t want to sound hard done by on this count. I’d take the rain over the heatwaves in the Northern hemisphere any day. In fairness to other parts of New Zealand, the country has had flooding. The news reported last night that a couple of houses in Wellington, situated on a cliff above a motorway may need to be demolished before they tumble down a heavily eroded cliff face – we’ve personally had nothing more than a little debris, a motorway bridge nearly closed, and panicked neighbours tying their kids trampolines to fence posts and the like. 

Background music has been fun this episode. I’d originally planned to use only music from the artist in question (we’re doing a musician’s Tale this week), but to reimagine some of his hits. An imitation wind-up music box cover of one song will make the cut. A Barrel-house piano cover of another might do yet, but it’s probably too messy

Our subject, who I accuse of being somewhat too ‘polite’ for my own tastes in the episode, turns out to be quietly subversive in ways I couldn’t have imagined before starting this.

For one, who else in 1940 was doubling trombone lines with a theremin?? At least I think that’s going on in When The Swallows Come Back to Capistrano???

The main reason I’m a little off target, however, is I’ve had an opportunity come up in my day job that I couldn’t pass on. It’s a more interesting role with better pay; and though the team I’m currently working for are all nice people (for one, they allow me to list this blog and podcast in my annual development plan), the other team have always been a joy to work for whenever I’ve had the opportunity. So yeah, add to the rain, chainsaws and theremins, a couple of nights writing a covering letter, then learning some of the basics of a job I’ve never done before – that week’s grace I had has taken a bit of a hit. 

Which brings me to my little change of plan. The new role comes with a steep learning curve that might knock me off my writing/researching/recording targets for a month or so. I’m pretty well on track to complete the script for next fortnight’s post/episode (on Major General Smedley Butler and the Wall Street Putsch). The one after, looking at The Johnson County War could do with a little bit more time, so I’m planning on moving it towards the end of the year. 

My current thought; put research to one side for a little while. After Wall Street, split the blog and podcast for a month or so. For the podcast, record a handful of pre-existing blog episodes (Frau Troffea’s Dance With The Devil, The Bagradas Dragon and The Sin Eater all seem good to record) 

For the blog I was thinking one of two directions. 

  1. Now could be a good time to write up some of those strange history/Forteana canon pieces everyone has read at some time – i.e. Kaspar Hauser/Tunguska Incident/Time Slips/The Man in the Iron Mask/Spontaneous Human Combustion/D.B Cooper etc. or
  2. I have an idea I was saving for the future, based around several short tales from English history (not too much to say on that right now, but I will say too few people talk about what happened to Oliver Cromwell’s head, for one…)

Both involve putting upcoming tales on Jorgen Jorgensen- the ‘Dog Days King’, and an odd story of vengeful Tally Sticks on hold till 2023. Most everything else should be fine, and on time this year.  

Update: Just cause I haven’t done one for a while…

Hey everyone, just dropping a quick update today. I hope wherever you are reading from life is treating you well in these crazy times. 

I’ve currently put both the blog and podcast more or less on autopilot for a month while I work on the next block of posts/episodes. I’m hoping if I can get a few months ahead of schedule – things like catching something horrid like COVID, or working myself into burnout via my day job, or an Autumn getaway to Queenstown are all -hopefully -mitigated against.
Or, for that matter, those times where you pick a subject based on a compelling read – say the strange death of British boxer Freddie Mills – and the possible connection to the serial killer ’Jack the Stripper’. A week into that one (worked up in 2020) I came across far too many small details that didn’t match verifiable timelines to trust anything else the author had to say. Then other details started looking dubious.

Not that I’ve ever (knowingly) published a dodgy article, but I have hurriedly thrown something else together a couple of times when a topic seems iffy on further research,
…. or occasionally became suddenly tone deaf (I didn’t want to publish my piece on Tamar of Georgia – a Seljuk conquering, Christian warrior queen, just days after a vile Islamophobe murdered 51 New Zealand muslims, injured 49 more in Christchurch, New Zealand)
Time for quality control and enough material to quickly sub a piece would be a godsend.

Block two will contain five fortnightly episodes – four of which are locked in – one I may replace. The main text I need for the fifth is only available in hard copy, and costs hundreds of dollars.

I was going for an 8 episode/8 episode/ whatever is left before Xmas schedule this year, but the ballooning out of the Assassins series into a three parter messed the schedule up a little. 

The break following the next block will be much the same as this – podcast a couple of older blog posts yet to be turned into an episode,  with a new blog-only post the day before. I’m hoping to everyday podcast followers there’ll be no discernible interruptions till my month off at the end of the year, and to my readers just a couple of odd points where a new post without an attached podcast episode is followed soon after by an old one with a podcast player attached to it. 

Some, like the updated Carrington Event, will be revamped and added to considerably. Others, probably not so much so.

I was planning on dropping a podcast episode on The Bagradas Dragon in a few weeks’ time with a blog post on ‘Mr Whoppit’. I’ve shelved both for now – listeners can tell no doubt my voice sounded a little strained on Carrington – It was done towards the end of a long day of recording. My voice was on it’s last legs by time I got to those episodes, and had little projection left in me. Bagradas was much the same. I’ll run it again while doing the new episodes and reschedule for the next break. 

In the meantime, I recorded an episode on former British PM Spencer Percival when I first got the Rodecaster recording console. It’s been partially mixed for a while, just sitting in reserve on the off chance I caught COVID and was unable to record for a while. I’ll get that finished in the coming days. 

Re: Mr Whoppit – he is a little bear who has fascinated me for some time. Some time just before the daredevil Donald Campbell’s Bluebird was salvaged from Lake Coniston, my parents were on holiday somewhere in the North Island of New Zealand – possibly Napier or Hastings, when they met Campbell’s widow at a hotel bar one night. Conversations with the folks about their holiday led me to the aforementioned magical talisman. I thought he might make for a quirky tale, but I’m just not hitting the tone I want with the piece right now. I’ll come back to him, and have something else up in a few weeks for the readers. 

Thanks for your continued readership/listenership all. – Simone

Update: This week is delayed – new blog/episode tonight?

Hi all just a quick note. As some of you may know I’ve been a work from home person since before the pandemic. You may also know I rent a place where I have a couple of flatmates to help me pay someone else’s mortgage… The flatmates are normally not work from home people, and in the summer time (is a pretty humid low 30 degrees celsius in New Zealand at present) I’m normally able to work with the office/bedroom door wide open.

This summer I’ve managed precisely three days of this, between one of my flatmates workplaces allowing employees back in the office, and omicron finally arriving on our shores. We’re not currently in a lockdown, but a red light in a traffic light system which recommends people work from home when they can under red.

I have to keep the door shut when others are in the house for privacy reasons. The windows in the room have security locks on them, so I can’t throw those wide open either.

Anyway, long story short – I’ve been losing a couple of hours every day at present to aerate the room, get a shower, wait for the temperature to drop and get a dehumidifier running before I can head back up and get to podcasting. The current episode is maybe 3 hours from completion as I type this so should hopefully be up tonight NZ time.

Sorry for the delays everyone

Back January 19th.

Hi everyone, just a quick update – happy new year to you all!

The blog and podcast will be back on January 19th. For the first sprint of the year I’m planning to look at
Witch hunts
A man besieged by his local ’water improvement association’
Samurai
Phantom airships
Real airships used in terrible ways
An African warrior queen (podcast episode, will also drop a new blog post that week as the blog has already covered Njinga)
Pseudocide
A heretic
A cult of infamous assassins
and the mystery man of Europe, known to his friends as Zed Zed.

Over the break I’ve been balancing regaining mojo with writing ahead. The blog scripts for the first five episodes of 2022 are locked and loaded. The sixth is halfway done. The first three episodes of the podcast are recorded – I’ll be mixing and editing the following week.

On the podcasts, and the dreaded day job – I’m trying to keep a couple of episodes ahead on the podcast in 2022, but trying not to get too far ahead on the recording as I’m looking to replace my Blue Yeti straight into an old laptop recording rig with a better quality microphone, into a recording console. As the dreaded day job always needs people to do overtime January through to March I’m trying to pay for the gear through as much overtime as I can manage round everything else. I don’t think I’ll still be a couple of months ahead come the first planned break in April, but am hoping to keep all of the balls in the air till then.

Sorry all, I’ll finish the Xenophon tale in the coming weeks as well. Back soon – Simone

Update: Premium Blog Content.

Hey all, Happy Holidays. I hope you’re all keeping well.

Seeing there was just a flurry of visits to the site from folk I figured I should really drop an update note. I was planning on setting a page up, then making that page private again – but got called away for a minute (am over at the folks over Xmas).
When I came back there was a notification from WordPress telling me the site was experiencing crazy high visitor numbers all of a sudden.

Today I’ve dropped the scripts for four of the five Patreon episodes onto a ’Premium Content’ feed. The fifth, The Enfundu, was already released free to air. Someone asked me if could make those scripts available as they weren’t into podcasts… I figured why not… if the system allows for it.

I was planning on bulk releasing the Patreon scripts, with a new post on January 19th – but the cat’s out the bag now I guess?

None of the regular posts will be put out as ’premium’, only the Patreon posts. The bulk of new content will be free to air. All the older material will stay free to air. Where the Patreon (podcast episodes with attached scripts) costs US $2 a month to sign up. Script only will be available for US $1 a month.

I’m hoping to drop part two of the Xenophon saga early next week, and will be back to regular blog posts and podcast episodes 19th January 2022.

Merry Xmas, take care all. – Simone.

Update: Sisyphus pushes them rocks…

Hey all just a quick update. Sorry I’ve been a little sketchy on the release dates of late. I think owing to feeling more than a little like Sisyphus pushing that rock up the same hill, day in day out for weeks now – I’ve been feeling more worn out than usual of late. This’ll sound very first world problem-ish, it’s mostly lockdown fatigue. As a work from home person anyway the big difference has been the inability to escape ’the office’ for 13 weeks now, but it was more of a difference than I’d planned on.

I’ve got the final episode in the Hollywood Silent Era trilogy set to drop next Wednesday, and a podcast episode. I’ve got two subsequent podcast episodes set to go after that for 2021, a rough draft for the following blog post (we finally make it to ancient Mesopotamia) – and I’ve got a clear plan for an Xmas blog this year.

I’ll look to drop a couple of mini blog posts on the in-between weeks.

Sorry again all, hit the wall and needed a breather – Simone.

Update: Under Construction…

Hey all just a quick update. This week’s blog post (on the Roscoe ’Fatty’ Arbuckle, Virginia Rappe case) is running a little behind schedule. The architect (me) drew up the blueprint, only for massive amounts of scope creep to sneak into the build… The minutiae around the case was more than the project manager (also me) was bargaining for – and I’m now arguing with the owners (yours truly) over why we can’t have the room for a piano they want, let alone that precarious looking toilet on the upper floor….

I was expecting to do this one in 2,000 – 2,500 words. To do it justice I probably need to double that. I’m happy to aim for maybe 3,000 words, but don’t want to create a monster like in the featured image (stolen from a Google image search ”House falls on Buster Keaton” if you were wondering. I have no idea what the photo relates to.)

Add to the mix, Auckland, NZ has been in a lockdown for just over 2 months now. As, well prior to COVID I was a work from home person, it hasn’t bought me much extra time in the week. This time has felt like hard time – no complaints about our leadership over here from me, but I am feeling a little drained of late… many of you all have experienced this with ’quarantimes’ too right? (to borrow a phrase from a friend.)

I don’t have some random historical factoid or mini Tale to shoehorn in here so let me awkwardly insert this guy into the mix by pointing out on the upside, my chronic insomnia has more or less disappeared this lockdown, which has been nice.

aaaand… Paul Kern is a Tale I came across a couple of years ago, and put way on the back-burner – as when I began to dig around the story I just couldn’t find anything much by way of reliable sources. I’ve had a Google alert set to his name for just on two years however, as I think his life must’ve been awful, if true.

Paul was allegedly a Hungarian soldier during the First World War. Stationed near Chlebovice, modern day Chechnya in July 1915 (on first glance the Austro-Hungarians fought the Russians around there at this time), he was shot in the head – losing much of his frontal lobe.

Paul Kern survived, but was alleged to have never slept again. A military Wiki page dedicated to him states he returned to Budapest, and lived till 1943… Something not backed up by any Guinness Book of Records, no Jstor or Academia articles. Nothing in the Lancet.

What do y’all reckon? A man who, due to a traumatic brain injury, which it’s implied destroyed the part of his brain which needs sleep, never slept for close to 3 decades? I’m inclined to file it alongside Old Tom Parr and the theft of a 5 tonne wrecking ball from an American construction site in 1973 as wildly inaccurate, but entertaining Forteana right?

Let me know your thoughts below.
I should be back with the next tale before the week’s out.

Update: Moving Pictures…

Hey all, just a quick update. 

Tales of History and Imagination have a YouTube channel – we have for a while, but I’ve held off on advertising it as it previously was a mess. 

The podcast episodes Podbean loads to YouTube have always sounded tinny to my ears, possibly due to a low bit-rate? I haven’t looked into the whys and wherefores of them…

Last weekend, while I was working on other projects, I made my own videos, by creating thumbnails – then altering them slightly to look like Audiograms, on iMovie. 

I then added the podcast episodes to the videos and uploaded. 

Please show the YouTube channel some love and hit the button below – we currently have a quality over quantity five followers over there. If video is your thing, I’d love for you to join them.

Update: This Lime Tree Bower My Prison…

Hey everyone, just a quick update today. 

As you may know, I’m based in Auckland, New Zealand – the land (one of several) who beat COVID. As some may know, the Rona is back over here for a sequel – and we’re all in lockdown again. 

If anyone is wondering, seeing I held up the Belzoni blog and podcast episode because I lost my voice due to a nasty cold – I was tested just before the lockdown. One of my flatmates brought some kind of virus into the house, then claimed his doctor told him he didn’t need a COVID test. Figuring either he was a liar, or his doctor incompetent – I got myself checked out. It was just a cold.

All the same, as the locations of interest have come up in the news this time, I’ve had six close calls (being at places COVID infected people were at hours before) and am, it appears, surrounded by what the media has dubbed ‘The Birkdale Social Cluster’. 

I feel a little silly when writing about COVID. New Zealand has had a comparatively easy ride compared to much of the world. In the scheme of things I’ve got little to complain about… 

But I did post that update with the plague mask picture a few weeks ago… So I figured some kind of update was in order. And yeah, following the example of Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley (pictured getting his polio shot on the set of the Ed Sullivan Show in 1956) I’ll be getting my first vaccine shot in a little over a week (New Zealand has been slow to roll the vaccination out)

Anyway, the lockdown does give me a little bit of extra time – no weekend shopping expeditions, or meals over at my parents’ place. No Thursday night foodcourt Chinese meal followed by grocery shopping. Certainly no Wednesday night pub quizzes till we’re a couple of lockdown levels down. 

The day job just ticks along, however. I’ve been a work from home person for almost three years now, so the 9 to 5 is very much business as usual. 

Given all that, I’m working away at a couple of extra things. 

First, I’m spending weekends building up a stockpile of podcast episodes. I suffer from seasonal hay fever, so it’s guaranteed I will lose my voice again – some time in the future. I’m looking to record around two dozen of the older blog posts – will keep a handful in reserve + mix the others in with new episodes as we go. 

On that I’m getting the sense those of y’all following the blog are as a rule not following the podcast – and vice versa. On those weeks where I drop an old episode I’ll generally drop a completely new blog post for my readers. 

Second, I’m going to look to get weekly blog posts back up again + start stockpiling a few of those Tales, once I’ve got the podcast episodes well ahead. I’m putting a temporary hold on my ‘Today in history’ one minute video series. When I put the ‘pilot’ up on my personal Facebook, I got some really positive feedback from friends who aren’t history buffs – I can see a place in the world for that project – but it is taking away from this project at the moment so…  

I’m still trying to work out how to get those Patreon episode scripts on here, please stay tuned for that. Next week’s Tale, and Patreon bonus episode are well on track for release. I’ll look to get a non-podcast week blog post in for the week after that – I want to try something a little different on those in between weeks. 

Stay safe out there everyone. I’ll have a new Tale out next week – Simone.


Oh, the silly post title and picture? In 1797 the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge – trapped in his bedroom with a blistered foot due to his wife dropping a pot of hot milk on him – wrote a wonderfully melodramatic poem about not being able to go out on a trek with his friends. I believe there is more to it, truthfully – Mrs Coleridge had just suffered a miscarriage and I always got the sense the two were fighting at the time. If no underlying story it does make Mr Coleridge a rather melodramatic guy I’d dare say…

Well, they are gone, and here must I remain,
This lime-tree bower my prison! I have lost
Beauties and feelings, such as would have been
Most sweet to my remembrance even when age
Had dimm’d mine eyes to blindness!….. “

The picture is of his library, from an article from some time back. His former mansion was up for sale last year for £7 million. The Devon property also of note as it was where Oliver Cromwell planned his revolution.

Update: The Dreaded Lurgy…

Hi everyone just a quick note, I should’ve really posted here first as most of Tales traffic comes directly here – sorry little fluey and not thinking clearly. 

On that count, apologies – this week’s content is going to be a little late. I’ve caught a nasty cold and can barely speak outside of my vocal fry register at the moment. This week’s blog post is written. All the art is done. Most of the music for the podcast too. 

Same for the Patreon episode. 

I wasn’t able to lay down narration, however, before the dreaded lurgy struck. FYI I’m based in New Zealand, where we’ve had no COVID in the community since late February. It is a cold of some description. 

In the meantime I’m doing the things I can – writing for the next couple of posts. I’ll bulk record a load of stuff when my voice returns, and try to use some upcoming annual leave to get an episode or two ahead so I’ve always got a little slack in the timeline moving forwards… And of course drinking lots of fluids, taking my medicine. Thumbing through a Selwyn Raab book from the dining room table – if you need a clue to the podcast topic/s for the second part of this month. 

I’ll be back soon with Giovanni Batista Belzoni- Tomb Raider (and Otzi, for the Patrons). 

Simone.