For all the redevelopers' worst efforts it's not really changed that much except the pubs are going down like skittles, we're currently lacking the disreputable bookstall and the massed ranks of " foot sore tramps, drunken beggars, and other specimens of the refuse of society" have been whisked off the street so they don't upset anybody during the Olympics.
And these days, instead of reading Varney the Vampire; The Death Grasp; and the Horrors of Zindorf Castle, the miliner's apprentice is reading The Black Book of Horror, Night of the Crabs, and The Fungus.
i remember trying to establish where the stories originated. This is the gist.
Thanks for that Dem - "The Hearse Driver" was terrific, and the looping framing story worked really well - I read somewhere that it gave Fred Hoyle the idea for his steady state universe theory - that it's always existed and continually repeats itself.
H. G. Wells' The Inexperienced Ghost is usually cited as the (very loose) inspiration for The Golfing Story, but maybe it's just me, but i reckon there's more than a dash of H. R. Wakefield's The Seventeenth Hole at Duncaster.
There's also a whiff of Robert Marshall's The Haunted Major (1902) about it.
i don't know: for about a year from the summer of 2009, when friend Milan had his stall in Spitalfields market, it really was just like that. Ken MaCauley's The Nuclear Nazi's, Brian Ball's Lesson For The Damned, Jim Moffat's The Naked Light and Queen Kong, Richard Harrington's Hellfire Today, 'Thomas Luke's Phobia, Origin Of The Crabs .... memories. And once he'd moved into TYPE you could even get Paperback Fanatic!
Back to/ on The Couch:
[In one of my favourite of his black comedies, The Closer Of The Way (Whispers, 1977), Bloch has been committed to an asylum after commuting some heinous act of violence. An exchange with Dr. Connors runs in part.
" .... Not just in this collection (Pleasant Dreams), but in literally dozens of your stories. This hostility towards psychiatrists."
"I don't hate psychiatrists."
"Your characters seem to. There are disparaging references to psychotherapy in The Sorcerer's Apprentice, I Kiss Your Shadow, and other stories in the book. And in Enoch, your Dr. Silversmith is a caricature, a gross libel of the profession."
Dr. Connor has a point. A Home Away From Home, The Shrink And The Mink, The Thinking Cap, Dead-End Doctor, Mannikins Of Horror - Bloch frequently portrays the profession in a negative light. I Do Not Love Thee, Dr. Fell goes as far as to depict psychiatry as the modern manifestation of the Black Arts. Bloch's response to Dr. Connors?
"But that's just another way of shocking people. Psychiatrists have become the high priests of a society that worships science. Showing them as incompetent or powerless to prevail against the forces of evil is an effective gimmick."
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.