Monday, 26 December 1994

Mrs Andrews's Control

Fiction ~ short story
Published September 1915
Approx. 3,200 words
(First read 26/12/1994)

Mrs Henry Andrews and her husband live in extreme happiness and comfort together at Oakley¹.  Mrs is a chronic faddist: having worked her way through every diet in the book, she moves on to matters psychical.  Cartomancy, Christian Science, astrology, palmistry, and (her husband having now joined her) finally they hit on automatic writing².  Sadly, though they produce reams and reams, none of it is intelligible.  Success arrives when they decide to hold a pencil together rather than one each.  A 'control' by the name of Pocky quickly 'comes through' and makes himself useful, advising Mr A on his investments, etc.  But what is this? ~ 'the German war' breaks out³, Pocky becomes 'patriotic and truculent', changes his name to Pocksky and throws his weight behind the Russians before the author administers the coup de grĂ¢ce.  A thoroughly fun read, Benson at his satirical best.  Available online here (in The Countess of Lowndes Square and Other Stories) and in Fine Feathers and Other Stories (1994).

¹ EFB's novel The Oakleyites appeared in the same year: it too featured a Mrs Andrews much like this one ...
² Psychography is the technical term, apparently.
³ The actual term EFB uses: luckily it never reached Capri.  I know, I know, I'm unkind to him on this subject, and it's utterly uncalled-for.

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