amwriting, Pagham-verse, The Crows, world building

Pagham-on-Sea: The Town Historian

I’ve been playing the Twitter hashtag game, #WIPWorldBuilders, for a few months now, and my threads get loooong. So here’s a blog post with all the stuff I’ve now made kind of canon about my world!

Let’s start with HISTORY and MONSTERS from January 2019.

The Town Historian

Town history is indeed preserved and recorded: there is a town Historian who passes the baton on when they die or want to retire. It is a pretty tough gig: the Historian is privy to a lot of info that can imperil them or make their lives tricky. This info is recorded psychically into the town annals, the abridged versions of which are kept in the local library. The full versions are destroyed or hidden depending on whose safety is compromised, whose secrets are being recorded, or how many bribes the Historian has taken. It is a flawed system.

No one is “in charge” or can control the records. It is entirely arbitrary and a side effect of a tethering curse on a particular writing tool. It must be used by someone and it will record whatever it wants. Like most curses, loopholes can be exploited.

On some rare occasions the pen is held by an actual historian who also researches things for themselves. Then you get fuller records & a more rounded picture of events, past/present. The library is currently digitising its copies of the town annals.

Given the arbitrary-ness of the curse that requires a bearer, more recently the pen has been bequeathed to the next Historian. The previous one [Harry Bishop] passed it on to a college kid [anonymous] who won a Town Council sponsored “competition” to fill the position. It comes with a stipend.

It also comes with a panic room and witness protection due to the nature of the job. The Historian may well have inadvertently recorded some record-breaking deals for the local crime boss already, but sadly psychic evidence isn’t accepted in court. That’s not to say the police won’t read it and figure out how best to proceed. Then again, it might be recording torrid love affairs or dark secrets of public officials. Who knows. The cleaned-up, typed, edited version will appear in the library minus that.

My response:
It is always the truth: just… selected truth. It writes according to “noteworthy” events that will have major consequences or are themselves the result of previous recorded events no matter how tangential.

Definition of “noteworthy” = “pertaining to (VIP) town figures” or whole town.

It has an archaic sense of “important town figures” which covers people who are descendants of previously important offices, like the defunct medieval guilds, aldermen etc, and stretches the definition to include the Women’s Institute, police above certain rank, mob bosses, etc.

Example entry: 01/01/1819: among those ringing the New Year in in style were Annabelle Sauvant, wife of Edward Sauvant, and her lover (and sister-in-law), Sarah Sauvant. Edward is still unaware of their affair. In fishing news…

My response:

It would do a brief but accurate potted biography as background, then continue from there… if the Historian were interested, they could research around the topic for themselves and record their findings ‘normally’ (i.e. just type it up to add into the library version if possible).

The originator of the curse was rumoured to be one of the abbots of Fairwood, to teach his wayward monks some discipline. Fairwood was where the gentry parked their spare sons who had no vocation at all, so the abbot had to do *something*. It is meant to be an angel feather BUT… who really knows?

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