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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Wednesday, September 14, 2005
    Mass hysteria - a domestic theme
    Excellent walk through the town of Halifax in the latest edition of quirky journal Strange Attractor. Tim Chapman's piece reinforces the point in yesterday's blog - it's a great piece of provincial psychogeography (which even references Alan Moore at one point).

    Chapman links the milltown's grisly-gallows past to its BNP-fascist present on a walk south-west to north-east via the sites of the 1938 incidents of the Halifax Slasher, 'two weeks of terror of a kind said to have been unseen since the days of Jack the Ripper', forty years ahead of the region's next great terror, Peter Sutcliffe. During this fortnight in Halifax, 'women were cut with razors; right-thinking men patrolled the streets; bystanders who looked a bit odd were beaten up'.

    The only difference between Jack the Ripper, the Yorkshire Ripper and the Halifax Slasher was that in Halifax the incidents were largely proven to be false, the self-inflicted wounds of fearful or attention-seeking individuals at a time of mass-panic. 'In 1979, as in 1888, it was real - all too bloody real. In 1938, the verdict was mass hysteria. The Halifax Slasher simply never existed.'

    Facinating tale, fascinating walk. Fascinating to reflect on the characteristics of mass hysteria this week, whose domestic theme has been fuel queue madness.

    [A great 'found poem' on the Halifax Slasher in Further: the Strange Attractor blog.]