My reading lately has brought me to the Tiddy Mun. He’s a grumpy but rather sad spirit of the fenlands. There’s something very ancient and disconnected about him, as though he’s been left behind, and doesn’t entirely know why. People were actually quite fond of him, by all accounts, in the same way they’re fond of elderly and slightly addled relatives they see only every other Christmas.
Anyway. Tiddy Mun can summon water, mist and fevers from the marshes. He’s very much at home in the bogs, and he was incandescent about the draining of the fens by the Dutch. In his rage, he conjured pestilential swamp airs onto all Fenmen, and didn’t stop until everyone said they were sorry.
He sounds anachronistic even in the 1890s:
“He dwelt deep down in the green water holes, and came out at evenings when the mists rose. Then he came creeping out in the darklings, limppelty lobelty, like a dearie wee old granter, all matted and tangled, a long grey gown so that they could hardly see him in the dusk, but they could hear him whistling like the wind and laughing like a peewit. He was not wicked like the rest, but he was eerie enough, though the times were when he helped them. For on wet seasons when the water rose to their doorsteps, the whole family would go out together and shivering in the darkness they would call:
‘Tiddy Mun wi’out a name,
Tha watter thruff!’
They would call it till they heard a cry like a peewit across the marsh, and they’d go home. And next morning the waters would be down.”
I feel quite sorry for the Tiddy Mun. He seems lonely and lost and utterly out of place, but I think he might have a role to play in the new novel. I especially like the idea that he isn’t “wicked like the rest”…