Some Early Drafts of Lo!

Ryook Phyoo

The Talking Mongoose

by Mark Henson

      During the 1930s, on the Isle of Man, a family called the Irvings, who lived in a small farmhouse, were to witness a particularly bizarre case of events.
      In the September of 1931, James Irving, his wife Margaret and their daughter Voirrey, started to hear strange noises like a wild animal, which emanated from the attic of the farmhouse. Curiously the "voice" behind these noises started to develop. In a similar way to a baby learning to speak, the cries started to turn into the words spoken by James Irving and were repeated parrot fashion by the unseen creature. In a very short space of time, the being had effectively learned to speak a good level of English!
      Soon the creature, apparently a mongoose by the name of Gef, introduced itself to the Irving family. He told them that he had been born on June 7, 1852, in Delhi, India.
      As well as talking, Gef, the mongoose, also developed a talent for singing. He knew the words to a good many popular songs and was also a bit of a joker, providing the family with an interesting source of entertainment, except for the time, when the Gef pretended to have been poisoned, which the family did not find in the least bit amusing.
      Gef insisted on remaining hidden to the family, being seldom seen except for the daughter Voirrey. The mongoose apparently resided within the walls of the house or would perhaps hide in the garden. The only evidences that the creature existed were the sound of its voice and a few other strange happenings, such as objects being moved and thrown about the house.
      What sort of temperament did Gef have? The evidence available shows him to be of a benevolent and sensitive nature, but perhaps a little frisky and accident prone. Gef demonstrated his caring nature, during at least one occasion, when Margaret Irving managed to make contact with Gef. Margaret got to stroke the creatures fur, but unfortunately she cut her finger on Gef's sharp teeth in the process. Showing concern for the well-being of Margaret, Gef immediately instructed her to go and put ointment on the wound. On another occasion, Gef again showed his sensitive side. When the antics of the mongoose finally proved to be particularly annoying to the family, they threatened to move out of their house and leave him. This greatly upset Gef, who loved their company and was afraid that he would be left on his own. When the family decided to stay, Gef became much more obedient.
      Frequently Gef would venture out of the house and journey around the Isle. His exceptional elusiveness was used to great effect, when he would spy on other people and report back to the Irvings with his tales of what was happening locally. Occasionally, some of the locals reported hearing the odd sounds of an invisible creature, which they believed to be the Irving's "pet" mongoose.
      It is interesting to note at this point, that, on the Isle of Man in approximately 1912, a farmer who apparently owned some mongooses let them loose into his fields with the intention that they would kill the rabbits, which were proving to be quite a nuisance on his farmland. Could some of these mongooses have continued to have lived and bred on the Isle of Man?
      Of course, it was only a matter of time before the story started to spread away from the Isle of Man, with many more people getting to hear about it. The story was a great favourite with the British press, with many journalists flocking to the Irving household, to try and catch a glimpse of this so elusive creature.
      At about this time, the story was to capture the attention of a famous paranormal investigator of the time, named Harry Price.
      Price set out to conduct a proper scientific study of the Irving's farmhouse, to try an obtain conclusive evidence of the existence of the mongoose. He got together a team of investigators and scientists, with which to try and accomplish this task.
      The research itself was very unsuccessful. Price himself never even managed to catch so much as a glimpse of the animal, during his stay on the Isle. The resulting evidence produced was weak indeed, consisting of a few blurry photographs of something roaming outside, in the fields around the farmhouse. The best picture apparently bore quite a resemblance to a cat. Plus some hairs, which were found, were remarkably similar to those belonging to the Irving's dog, Mona.
      The British Natural History Museum, also studied some of the evidence and discredited the alleged paw print casts, which the Irvings claimed, were made by Gef.
      There was also a suggestion made that the voice of Gef was in actual fact made by the Irving's daughter Voirrey.
      Price's own probable conclusion to these events was that Gef was a fantasy which provided entertainment and interest for the Irving family.
      Well, you are probably wondering, what eventually became of Gef, if he did at all exist? The Irving family themselves finally moved out of the farmhouse in 1937. Later in 1947, the new owner of the farm claimed that he had shot a "strange looking mongoose like animal," which had been roaming around the property. Although some say that this may well have been Gef, the majority of people on the Isle of Man at the time were sure that Gef left the farmhouse along with the Irving family. When you consider how fond Gef was of the family, this makes for rather a pleasant end to the tale.

To many the Isle of Man is known for the TT Motorcycle races in June. Its many tales of folklore, such as Gef the Talking Mongoose, the Moddy Dhoo and many others besides are also popular. Gef was once featured, in the Isle of Man's pubs on a beer mat!

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© Mark Henson, 2000, 2001