Munroe and Molly opens with a completely irrelevant mini-plot that does nothing except establish that Dougal and Darius are away from Glasgow. It is bad short story writing, but I just wanted to get in something about vampire burials after a discovery of skeletons with iron stakes in their chests in a Bulgarian grave site. It just seemed like something that had to get a mention, even if I couldn’t get a full story about it. Should the opportunity arise, though, it does at least represent a previous encounter with this sort of thing.
Meanwhile, to the UFO sighting at Dechmont woods or Dechmont Law as it is also known. This is a case of fact meets fiction, since it really is the location of the only UFO sighting in Scotland that was investigated by the police. It happened in 1979, when a man called Robert Taylor, a forestry worker, suffered injuries which he claimed were caused by his encounter with a UFO in the woods
Well, its not for me to deny or confirm his story. I wasn’t there! The internet it full of websites which either support or debunk Taylor’s case. One of the most interesting debunking points is that the ship he described looks a bit like the one seen in the Doctor Who episode ‘City of Death’ which had been broadcast not long before the incident. It has been suggested that he somehow imagined the Jagaroth space ship in the woods. Again, who knows. The artists’ renditions of the Dechmont UFO do make it a kind of round pressure cooker shape rather like the Jagaroth ship, but the smaller ‘mines’ surrounding the Dechmont UFO are a variant.
Well, anyway, it is an absolute gift to my Torchwood Glasgow series, and setting a story around the Dechmont Woods location is a must.
The other location in the story is almost as mysterious looking in modern times and in many ways more sinister. Bangour Village Hospital is one of those projects that seemed a good idea a century ago, and probably were compared to the usual concept of a lunatic asylum back then. It was a secure institute for the mentally ill, but designed to be like a small, self-contained village where as far as possible the inmates could live a nearly normal life. I went to school not far from the Lancashire equivalent – Calderstones Hospital. It was at one and the same time fascinating and terrifying. Teenage girls in boarding school have enough material to feed their imaginations without tales of escaped lunatics without their trousers. We actually went to the pantomime in the hospital theatre every year and the patients seemed pretty much ok, really. They never did anything untoward around us. The village hospital always seemed to me to be a good and humane way of looking after people who couldn’t look after themselves. The only reason most of them closed is the expense of maintaining such huge establishments. ‘Care In The Community’ was cheaper. It was also meant to be a good, humane way of looking after those unfortunates, but I’m not sure it works half as well as the old method, frankly.
Anyway, end of the rant about mental health care. In this Torchwood reality, the old hospital disguises a U.N.I.T. base which is even more sinister.
The close proximity of Bangour and Dechmont was an absolute gift for this story. I was able to tie both places in really neatly to the story of ‘Molly’ the alien brood queen who came to Earth to mate and breed and by happy chance chose Munroe Macdonald for her sire.
A lot of readers saw this as a bit of a romance as well as a sci fi story. Munroe and Molly were a pleasing couple even if one of them WAS an alien who might not even be humanoid. The development of the relationship within the isolation suite was described as ‘touching’ and ‘gentle’ by two commentators. That is exactly what I was aiming for.
A couple of comments also drew comparisons with Delta and the Bannermen. I can see where they are coming from. The last of a dying race with an evil enemy bent on genocide comes to Earth to have babies. This might be seen as a more grown up version of the Doctor Who story. I really wasn’t thinking of that at the time, but why not.
Robert Taylor at Dechmont Woods