This page is for any examples of the way in which the UK’s mystery big cats are used in modern-day symbolism, folkore, literature, marketing and the like. Examples are given in chapter three of the book and include beer types and their labels, books and radio plays. The Exmoor National Park magazine spotter’s guide includes the Exmoor Beast amongst the features of the National Park to look out for, but perhaps more as a nod to the legend than a real challenge to visitors? Any further examples that people come across would be welcome to be added here.
RED IN TOOTH & CLAW – Radio 4 play by Simon Bovey
A gripping 45 mins play which covers the mixed emotions of a farming family facing up to a possible mystery predator in the nearby countryside. The subtext of the play asks whether man or beast is more dangerous…
A preview is here. Listen out for when the play is repeated on BBC Radio 4.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE PANTHER ON THE MAP
Gloucestershire-based artist Alex Beeching ( www.alexbeechingtheartist.com ) has produced this map of landmarks and traditions of Gloucestershire. The map is sold on teatowels and cotton bags in craft outlets and through the not-on-the-high-street website. At the core of the map is a panther symbol which Alex has used to depict the ongoing sightings of these cats in the heart of the Cotswolds landscape.
Examples of big cats in new folkore:
STROUD BREWEREY RELEASES BIG CAT
POETRY & VERSE:
The hidden big cats of our landscape have inspired people to produce artwork, literature and verse, and no doubt more such appreciation of the subject will follow. We hope to include some examples of such work here, so please feel free to get in touch with any offers or pointers to examples which you are aware of.
It exists – it lives in thought. Watch it move!
Its arched silhouettes sudden dips in dells,
Moments of its quick movement the wind’s shove,
Heathland furze wafted, shaken heather bells.
Imagined, its shape patrols wilderness –
Proved in puddled mud, in splayed clawless prints –
A ball of lamb wool – a boneless carcass
Ruffled into rumour over frothy pints.
On southern moors each stone, like solid mist,
Evolves. Overhead, always, a full moon
Shines on the hunter, the hunted, each kissed,
Changing man into beast, beast into man.
Or on the shoot of a northern m’lord
A found skull, sabre-tooth still attached, that
Only a week ago stalked scorched moorland –
A penumbra observed, a panther cat!
A ghostliness takes shape, slowly sinews
Unfurl, a small ripple becomes muscle,
A blackness skin, a dark blot a nose
That sniffs itself into being and smells
Man’s thought and becomes it. Fear of loved thrills
And the creatures snarl. They have fiery eyes
That stare into wide eyes that stare: it wills
Blood’s hot flow, the found pulse of its wildness.
By Roy Hinks
The Pride of Stroud
Whose fame made the residents proud,
Till a media type
Dismissed it as hype,
Until he was lynched by the crowd.
ART & VISUAL REFERENCES:
Peter Drewett’s scale representation of the large black cat which visited his property near Banff in Scotland in January 2009.
Peter is an artist and was inspired by the cat’s appearance. The incident is discussed along with many others in chapter 3 of the book.
Photo: Banff Journal