The Isle of Man resides in a pocket of the Irish Sea between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. It is known for its motorcycle racing and its…ghosts. Yes, the Isle of Man is steeped in a history of fairies and spooks, not least notably the Dalby Spook—the spirit of an Indian Sheik, reincarnated into a mongoose with a bushy, golden tail. In 1931, this spirit haunted a farmhouse called Cashen’s Gap, where James Irving and his family lived. Irving, his wife, and his daughter said the mongoose sang to them, told them gossip from around town, and claimed to be the eighth wonder of the world. When journalists rushed to the Isle of Man to scoop the story, everyone in town claimed they had heard the mongoose speak and that it rode the buses to catch up on gossip. However, the journalists never found any evidence, and it was eventually written off as a hoax, or possibly a mass hallucination. Eventually, the mysterious “Dalby Spook” was rebranded “Gef the Talking Mongoose.”
In a recent episode of Book Shambles, the podcast for book nerds, co-creator of The League of Gentlemen and Inside No. 9 Reece Shearsmith admitted that the 1930s English folk tale Gef the Talking Mongoose is crying out for a dramatization, and he wishes to be the one to make it. Although no plans are in place, it does excite the minds of film and television fans. What would a Shearsmithian urban legend retelling feel like? Would it be shot on location on the Isle of Man? Most importantly, who would play the voice of the mongoose?
Incidentally, Book Shambles co-host Josie Long hosts a monthly comedy variety night in Camden called Lost Treasures of the Black Heart, and many of these shows have been preserved as an audio podcast, available for free on iTunes. In the 5th July 2011 episode, about an hour in, you can hear We Are Goose sing their song about Gef, which has a chorus that goes, “Mongoose with human hands and feet / He was born in New Delhi / He’s over a century old / Gef Gef Gef Gef! / He will turn you into stone / so he hid behind a wall / offered wisdom to us all / from the Irving family home.” So, basically…if Shearsmith is in, he’s already got a soundtrack to his film.