So the third part of Six Stories with Matt Wesolowski today for you – this time he is talking about one of the characters in the novel, Harry Saint-Clement-Ramsay, whose story forms one of the many moving parts to this incredibly atmospheric and brilliant book. Which I shall be reviewing at the end of all this. But really if you don’t want to wait you can see below for ordering details..
Part 3: Harry Saint-Clement-Ramsay
The idea of hunting animals for pleasure is as indecipherable to me as it is abhorrent. Even more so the construction of special land in which to do so.
Britain, however had the highest density of ‘Hunting Parks’ in the entire world and it is for this reason that we have more ancient trees than the rest of Europe1.
‘To the medieval mind the park was a closed space quite separate from the other wilderness outside. Within that park everything was the dominion of the noble who had created it. Inside the park courtiers and would-be aristocrats could ride and hunt, overlooked by a castle from which perhaps they might be watched by the objects of their courtly love. Parks, then, were places of recreation for the privileged.2
The untamed land around Chillingham, Castle in Northumberland was the primary influence for Scarclaw Fell and it surprised me that much of that land was a medieval ‘Hunting Park’, with deer brought by the Normans from Sicily alongside native boar and, of course, the famous Chillingham Wild Cattle.
It’s a lazy and unpleasant generalisation to make that all rich people enjoy hunting. There are a fair few that do and a fair few that don’t. I don’t actually know anyone particularly rich, personally, so creating the character of Harry Saint-Clement Ramsay wasn’t easy.
I liked the idea that whoever it was who found the body of Tom Jeffries and was therefore bound to to Scarclaw Fell, was ignorant to the power of the ancient land. It would, again, have been easy and lazy to construct a selfie-obsessed urbanite who didn’t want to get their brogues muddy but what I felt was that, like the rest of the cast of Six Stories, Harry should be an outsider in his own right. To me, it felt like as Harry’s character emerged, he showed no desire to hunt and even his friends – taking lamps and dogs into the ancient woods of Scarclaw felt like they were playing a role rather than acting of their own accord.
With Harry’s character, I was not making some sort of statement about animal rights (although I do have fantasies about terrible things happening to people who hunt animals for fun), I guess I wanted to reflect the insecurity of the other teenage protagonists, showing that awkwardness and the desire for acceptance straddles class.
Harry fights his own battle on Scarclaw Fell and unfortunately does so alone…
1 Dr. John Fletcher’s Chillingham as a Deer Park. ‘Chillingham’ (Fonthill Media Limited, 2016). P.117 2 IBID p.112
1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.
2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…
As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.
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