Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ringing The Changes

Ringing the Changes was every bit as creepy as I had remembered it to be.  No need for blood and guts, or outright horror here.  This is subtle and claustrophobic.  You can imagine the constant tolling of the bells, the emptiness of the village as the inhabitants hide behind locked doors.  You feel the fear of the honeymooning couple as they walk down to the ocean in the dark only to find that it is no longer there.  You wonder about the drunken landlady of the hotel, and the story about her strange husband.  The only other guest staying at the hotel tells the new husband that he still has time to get his wife away before the bells stop ringing……… 

From the many stories of horror or supernatural that I read as a teenager only three have constantly remained with me:

Midnight Express by Alfred Noyes
No Living Man so Tall by Rosemary Timperley
Ringing the Changes by Robert Aickman

I’ve just started One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  It is narrated by the Indian patient Bromden, and he introduces us to the ‘Acutes’, ‘Walking Chronics’, ‘Wheelers’ and ‘Vegetables’ within the ward.

The Ward is part of a well oiled machine which is headed up by the formidable Nurse Ratched (or Big Nurse as Bromden calls her). Randall P McMurphy (r.p.m.) has just entered the ward and is about to upset the machinations. I’ll write more on my thoughts on this once I have read some more.

In The Idiot Prince Myshkin has spent a rather distressing night with the tragic Hyppolite, and the other hangers-on in his entourage at a supposed party thrown for Myshkin.  He had asked Hyppolite to move into his villa so that he could see the trees instead of ‘The Wall’ (I can’t help but think of Shirley Valentine when I read of Hyppolite’s affinity with the Wall) which has been the view from Hyppolite’s sick bed. Hyppolite is in Consumption and says he only has a couple of weeks left to live.  He writes a farewell-cum-suicide note which he asks Myshkin to read aloud to his guests before daybreak.  The note is quite profound and thought provoking, and once Myshkin has finished reading it Hyppolite pulls out a gun and fires at his own temple.  The gun fails to go off, and he beomes a figure of fun as those who witnessed this action believe that he left the cap out on purpose. 

Myshkin is being pulled apart in many directions, but he still continues with his easy going kind hearted nature, though he has begun to lose patience with Lebedeff who has just told a roundabout story of how 400 Roubles have been stolen from him during the course of the night and he believes the thief to be one of the guests at the party - Ferdischenko.  This is possible because Ferdischenko told a story about how he stole money at the beginning of the novel and how he let a servant girl take the blame and even encouraged her to admit to the crime.  There are some really dark elements to this novel and they are threatening to overpower the Prince. 

Believe it or not I’m still listening to Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, I’m just not enjoying this one as much so only listening to it on and off, but I’ll try and make an effort to finish it this week.  I’m also still reading The Lair of the White Worm on my Kindle.  It’s really not very good at all, which is disappointing as it is a Bram Stoker.  It’s just plain silly and not worth writing about at the moment.  But, I have had fun working out the bookmarking, highlights, clippings and background music on the Kindle.  I love new toys J

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