Hello and welcome to a foggy U.K. Aircraft are being disrupted, cars are crawling along roads where visibility is down to about 20 metres. It is never nice. It is like walking through solid rain. But, as the above picture shows it does take on another aspect when combined with the darkness of night.
When you read the next sentence try to create a picture in your mind. Jack the Ripper. Got it? I am willing to bet that anyone similar to my age will have pictured a dark figure with a black bag and possibly a knife, walking in a dark alleyway. I will further bet that the alleyway will be foggy.
Charles Dickens in his ‘A Christmas Carol’ emphasises that the first chapter is set in a very foggy London. The nearby buildings are shrouded in the stuff (Note Shrouded! A funeral connection from the beginning.). It is not horrific in itself, yet we know it is foggy as Scrooge enters the courtyard of his house and watches the transformation of his door knocker into the ghostly face of his long dead partner.
It is perhaps not surprising In London, where a combination of the industrial revolution and weather created the infamous ‘Pea soupers.’ These were a combination of soot and Fog. Yet if you take any horror scenario, fog can be relied on to create and enhance it. The Hammer film studios used it extensively. Even their reboot ‘The Woman in black.’ Was set on an island that was covered in the stuff.
‘Sleepy Hollow’, though I have not read the original, always has Fog as a central character in it’s adaptations. Fog is an old trick to create atmosphere in any horror scenario.
I suppose Fog is ethereal, it creates a feeling that we cannot use our senses. Sight is limited, it plays tricks with our hearing. Anything we can touch feels extremely cold and clammy. We can be approached without warning. It is eerily quiet. Add a graveyard to the scenario and you’ll be scared witless with very little effort. Then there is the fact that our senses try to compensate by feeding us all kinds of noises and half seen movements. Maybe it is a modification of the ‘Fight or flight’ instinct, which requires knowledge of threats well in advance. Our mind is not getting this knowledge so it prepares the body for any movement or unexpected sound.
Maybe the body has a set of reactions, developed over millions of years, specifically to deal with Fog. A template, if you will, which tells us to be constantly on guard and switches our senses into hyper sensitive mode.
Then the imagination kicks in and that tree, nearly invisible in the white translucent shroud becomes eerily like a large, demon like figure. The sound of a cracking twig is amplified a hundredfold and you feel the urge to run. A hand reaches out unseen behind you…………….slowly you begin to feel something there…….you turn fearfully to see……nothing. The noise of more crackling, overly loud in the quiet, seems to indicate an animal running around but you can still only see dark shapes where the Fog shifts. Then as you begin to feel safe and all goes quiet, a cold clammy finger taps you on the shoulder and you hear a deep horrific growl followed by an evil Laugh. Mwahahahahahaha.
I think I’ll up the heating a bit and stay indoors.