Thursday, 15 May 2008

The power of suggestion

Just reading a book of ghost stories by E Nesbit (for grownups, not children) - full of moments where a character leans forward from his fireside armchair, takes his pipe out of his mouth, and says "Great Scott, Langley, haven't you heard? It can't have been Edwards you spoke to - he's been dead since last week!". I love that kind of thing (M R James is another deeply fabulous and creepy example). I know H P Lovecraft is supposed to be the daddy but I can't take seriously stories that end with a full paragraph in italics ("and as it drew closer, its tentacles waving blindly, I could barely prevent myself from screaming in HORROR as the ghastly THING crept from the bowels of Great Cthulhu..."). Rather like the difference between films of the eerily suggested (Hitchcock, for example, or "The Others") and the slasher-porn likes of "Saw IV". Obviously I'm aware that what with my equally lavish use of capitals and italics I can hardly diss Lovecraft but there you go.
Absolutely chucking it down today - well, we've had the requisite 4 days in May that constitutes a British summer, and as always I am incorrectly dressed. For the last couple of sundrenched days I warily went to work in a coat (which I always ended up dragging home, purple-faced and drenched in sweat) and sneakers (my ankles were swollen like a couple of butternut squash). Yesterday I daringly wore flipflops, and as a result am so abraded between my toes that I'm hobbling like the little mermaid. Today - sneakers, light cardigan, no coat... and it's hosing it down like a carwash. I am resigned to always wearing the wrong clothes but this is getting silly. Tomorrow I shall wear a ballgown, wellies, a pith helmet and longjohns. With SPF 50 and one of those silver-foil hypothermia blankets.

8 comments:

Brother Tobias said...

I adored Nesbit when I first became an avid reader. 'Five Children and It', and 'The Story of the Amulet' spring to mind, eagerly selected from the Abbey Bookshop in Great Missenden. I think I was a bit in love with Anthea (which was a lot better than Arthur Ransome, thanks to whom I once announced to a surprised gathering that I loved Titty).

lucyfishwife said...

You could have complicated the whole thing by going for Nancy (5 points if you remember why she called herself Nancy)! Anthea was fab - and I always had a soft spot for Elfrida in "The House Of Arden" mostly because I felt so sorry for her name, and Phil from the Railway Children, because she "meant well".. my first real lit crush was Asterix (he was my height), followed by Tintin, Snufkin (from the Moomins) and Taran the Assistant Pig Keeper (from "The Black Cauldron" by Lloyd Alexander). Oh god, the shame - I don't think I've ever grown out of this, either, as I still have a bit of a thing for Tom Ripley.

mantua maker said...

Do you remember Gwyn in The Owl Service who was sexy and William in Flambards who got killed - sob!

lucyfishwife said...

I liked Mark in Flambards more!

Brother Tobias said...

I can't remember why she was Nancy. I remember why she wasn't Ruth though (because pirates are ruthless!).

I reread my only surviving Moomin book (Moominland Midwinter) recently, and was enchanted by it, where I was once a bit spooked. I dug it out after reading 'The Summer book', which reminded me of Tove Jannsen's magic world.

lucyfishwife said...

That was the correct answer and your 5 points are banked!
I have a Moomin duvet cover from the 70s in my airing cupboard, to the complete disgust of Mr Fishwife, who thinks it's proof that I am hopelessly immature - although we did have a reading from C S Lewis at our wedding (last paragraph of "The Last Battle") which I sneaked in without telling him.

Rol said...

The scariest stuff is always suggested rather than in your face like Lovecraft. There's something far more frightening about the idea of Lovecraft than the actual execution.

lucyfishwife said...

...It's the way he keeps saying things are "indescribably horrifying" and then describing them. Once I found out Great Cthulhu looked like a big squid he was far less scary..