Devil’s in the de­tail

Derbyshire Life - - Out & About -

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.

Con­tact­ber­pro­files/roly­smith roly.smith@bt­con­

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