Devil’s in the detail
The Beast of Bakewell? How a close encounter
stirred up some childhood memories
Natural History Museum. In a nice irony, descendants of the ‘Beast of Bolsover’ now gracefully hover over the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Carr Vale Flash Nature Reserve, created on the land formerly occupied by the colliery.
While our ‘Beast of Bakewell’ did not attain anywhere near the dimensions of the Bolsover beast, it was nevertheless enough to frighten poor Chloe. Her Dad, Neil, took a beautiful photograph of it on his phone as it rested on the ivy of the fence.
Dragonflies are among the largest, most colourful and fastest of our flying insects. According to Peter Marren’s classic Bugs Britannica (2010), they have around 80 folk names, and my boyhood ‘horse-stinger’ is common among them. Many seem to link dragonflies with the
Devil, and in some places they are still known as Dicken’s or Dickinson’s horse, which refers to the old belief that the Devil chose to ride on a dragonfly.
Another more charming name is ‘Devil’s darning needle’, which comes from the habit of dragonflies of darting to and fro, as if stitching an invisible piece of cloth. Dragonflies were said to particularly dislike screaming children, gossiping or quarrelling women, and cursing or blaspheming men.
Now every family has its moments, but I don’t think any of those claims could be applied to our peaceful, very welcome and long overdue family gathering.
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