Friday, 17 August 2012


Fiction ~ short story
Published in Hutchinson's Magazine, May 1924
Collected in Spook Stories (1928)
6,570 words
(First read 17/08/2012) 

So-called automatic writing
Spinach is one of EFB's rare comic spook stories¹.  Or rather, it starts off promisingly as a comic story, degenerates into a humdrum spook story, and only comes alive again in the last paragraph.
Brother and sister Ludovic and Sylvia Byron are a couple of phoney mediums ... oh don't listen to me, here's Fred's opening paragraph, the best in the story:
Ludovic Byron and his sister Sylvia had adopted these pretty, though quite incredible, names because those for which their injudicious parents and godparents were responsible were not so suitable, though quite as incredible.  They rightly felt that there was a lack of spiritual suggestiveness in Thomas and Caroline Carrot which would be a decided handicap in their psychical careers, and would cool rather than kindle the faith of those inquirers who were so eager to have séances with the Byrons.
Spinach (not actually relevant)
EFB has great fun describing their methods and results, as he always does when poking fun at fake spiritists.  Anyway, one of their top customers, Mrs Sapson ('a large, emphatic widow'), arranges for them to go and spend a holiday at her recently vacated cottage near Rye².  There they discover that they have genuine mediumistic powers and are actually able to photograph the extremely 'fresh' ghost that besieges them, though one suspects he would have manifested himself to pretty much anyone who happened to be available.  I'll not give away the climax ~ just say that I found it only mildly amusing.
So: starts well, long saggy middle section, ends well.  It's available online here.

¹ For the others click on the 'comic spook' tag.
² Yes, actually named as such, for once.

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