A modernish folktale for Halloween

A Hob is a supernatural creature, native to the North York Moors and the wider north of England. In stories they tend towards being helpful, but aren’t always. There are quite a few local place names that reference a Hob – Hob Hole, Hob Hill, Hobb Crag, Hobbin Head etc.

The Hob lived in a hole in a damp bank in a dark wood. The family lived in the farm nearby, they had lived in the same farm for generations. For all that time, every night, the Hob had worked his fingers to the bone.

'Brownie', another name for a Hob. Copyright Brian Froud and Alan Lee (Faeries, 1978, Rufus Publications)He swept their floors, he churned their butter, he sawed their timbers, he tended their stock, he threshed their wheat, he ploughed their fields, he clipped their sheep, he mowed their hay, he banded their wagon wheels, he ground their grain, he pressed their crab apples, he spun their wool, he sowed their seeds, he bound their sheaves, he flailed their corn, he cut their turfs, he gathered their bracken, he drove their bees, he picked their gooseberries, he teeathed their stone, he shoed their horses, he brewed their botchet, he skinned their rabbits, he cut their cloth, he baked their gingerbread, he joined their coffins.

The family weren’t supposed to see him, but sometimes one of them would – just a glimpse as he dragged himself away, back to his hole, muttering to himself. They knew to leave him alone and to thank their good fortune for his help.

After a while there were more and more shiny containers on rubber wheels, and noisy sounds coming out of small boxes, and people walking around in circles pointing at things. The Hob took to muttering even more.

Then early one morning a new member of the family who had arrived in a massive shiny container the night before and was trying to get a Wi-Fi signal, looked out of an upstairs window and saw a small boney raggedy dirty creature shambling out of the farm yard. The man was shocked. He didn’t call the Police and Social Services only because he knew he could solve this himself, he would make it a project to fill his time here in the middle of nowhere. He immediately ordered clothes from Traffic LA, and grooming products from Space NK. He didn’t want to scare or confront the creature, at least not yet, so he left his gifts on the step by the back door. He meant well.

The Hob came that night as usual, and tripped up over the parcels. He knew they were for him. First he ate the charcoal face mask and drank the rosehip beard oil and then he began to mutter. He was painfully offended – and that made him think. He didn’t want to dress up like a person, he wasn’t a person he was a Hob. He realised that he didn’t want to work and work and work just because he always had, and he suddenly thought maybe he didn’t have to – he could sit in his hole and mutter to himself instead. So he put their fragrant candles in the Aga stove, he put their oysters in the Venus Century Espresso Machine, he put their iPhone in the Hammacher Juicer, and he shambled off, never to come back again. He sits muttering in his hole, but now and again a lost rambler smells of charcoal face mask or rosehip beard oil and then the Hob starts to gnash his teeth and clench his fists…

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