I hated being a Youth - as in "the youth of today", aka teenaged. Childhood was interesting, but youth was something that didn't agree with me. What I really wanted was to hibernate for 7 years, from the ages of 12-19 until I turned back into something recognisably human. If someone had offered me the option to do so, I'd have taken it, but sadly they did not and I had to take my own measures.
These measures included being paranoid, anti-social and cultivating a yak-type hairstyle which still stands me in good stead. The upside was that since I isolated myself very effectively from my peers, I had a lot of time on my hands and read obsessively. Bear in mind that I am still incapable of going anywhere without at least two paperbacks stashed in my handbag. At that stage of my life, I read while walking down the road. Myths, legends and fantasy were my areas of choice, and this is where the Yeth Hounds come in.
|Illustration by Anne-Marie Perks|
The origins of the hounds possibly lie in flocks of migrating geese. Human imagination has turned that eerie sound into spectral hounds. They cannot be turned aside. If they catch your scent, they will run you down and there is no escape. Lean white hounds, with baleful eyes and red ears, they race across the autumn and winter skies, led variously by the devil, Herne and Odin. Typically the hunt is not evil. It can be summoned for a purpose however, and as a neutral force, will obey a sufficiently powerful caller whether good or bad.
I've got to admit that the first time I read about the hounds, I stayed awake all night jumping at shadows and fleeing under my duvet at all the night sounds I'd never noticed before. They still terrify me. Now however, I'm more interested in them for the way they keep popping up in mythology and I'm still curious about why they should be such a northern phenomenon.
All that self-imposed isolation meant that I at least emerged from my teenage years very widely read indeed. Completely lacking in social skills mind you. Which may have contributed to my disasterous start in the romance game.
All this is a very long time ago now, but the me that emerged from the youth-phase is still the me I wake up with. Most of the basic obsessions were in place and while some of them have mellowed, others have evolved and grown deeper. Maybe the hounds got me after all. Some things can't be escaped.