Monday, 14 January 2013

Thursday Evenings

Fiction ~ short story
First published in Pears's Annual, 23rd November 1920
Collected in More Spook Stories, 1934
4,385 words
(First read 14/01/2013) 

Frith's Derby Day (1856-58), featured in this story
Mrs Wallace has been holding her artistic salons (her Thursday evenings) since the height of the Victorian era.  When she dies in her eighties in 1920, the last link between that world and the modern is broken.  Her flat, including the piano at which she used to sing her favourite song "in a faint far-away voice which sounded as if it came from the next house but one", is sold to a pair of consummately modern artists, Mr Humphrey Lodge (composer of symphonies featuring 'siren whistles, pieces of emery-paper rubbed together, watchman's rattles, and penny whistles') and his wife Julia (painter of Cubist portraits whose faces looked like 'a series of planes separated from each other by coloured lines').  It's only natural that the recently departed spirit of Mrs W should be disgusted with all this tomfoolery.
Thursday Evenings is a fun spook story: EFB derives as much pleasure from satirizing the two artistic sensibilities ~ the worst excesses of High Victorianism, in particular the song The Lost Chord, and the idiotic garbled pretentions of the modern ~ as he does from describing the antics of La Wallace's 'Poltergeist' ~ his word.  So, very definitely designed to amuse ~ which it does ~ rather than appal ~ which it doesn't. 
The story's available online here

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