Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge our batteries, plan the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes. As part of joining the Escape Artists family, this year we’re pulling out all the stops. We’re running 10 staff pick episodes over the month, each one hosted by a different member of the Cast of Wonders crew.
We hope you enjoy artist and founder Barry J. Northern’s favorite story from 2015, A School Story by M. R. James, and narrated by Alasdair Stuart. The story originally aired August 2, 2015 as Cast of Wonders 172.
A School Story
by M.R. James
Two men in a smoking-room were talking of their private-school days. “At our school,” said A., “we had a ghost’s footmark on the staircase. What was it like? Oh, very unconvincing. Just the shape of a shoe, with a square toe, if I remember right. The staircase was a stone one. I never heard any story about the thing. That seems odd, when you come to think of it. Why didn’t somebody invent one, I wonder?”
“You never can tell with little boys. They have a mythology of their own. There’s a subject for you, by the way–‘The Folklore of Private Schools.'”
“Yes; the crop is rather scanty, though. I imagine, if you were to investigate the cycle of ghost stories, for instance, which the boys at private schools tell each other, they would all turn out to be highly-compressed versions of stories out of books.”
“Nowadays the Strand and Pearson’s, and so on, would be extensively drawn upon.”