10 thoughts on “The Ballet of Dr Caligari and Madder Mysteries – Reggie Oliver

  1. A beautiful book of 300 stiff pages generously peppered with characteristic authorial illustrations. My copy is signed and numbered 42/400.



    “I don’t share Longfellow’s opinion that ‘the thoughts of youth are long, long ones.’”

    This young narrator about to go up to Oxbridge has tall thoughts, though, eventually on a long descent. An ‘easy’ Blakean descent to Hades? Or to this story’s Hollow City, no doubt. A maze and a nightmare vision amid this engaging academic adventure. With a few factual antiquarian info dumps, this is a well-evoked tale of the young Englishman to a Greek island with background myths of, inter alia, a two-headed hermaphrodite beast that is not dissimilar to the heads of two co-residents at the hotel where he is staying! And ending with a Fix to quaff in an English pub, hopefully, later. And much more. Including a ‘broach’ on a woman’s dress that should have been a ‘brooch’. But who is the donkey, the reader or the author? Madder mysteries are hard to imagine.

  2. f6a10d17-4756-4752-945a-b6c0a92a385bTHE HEAD

    A story of assisted dying, and it is a Reggie Oliver classic, beyond even its own provenance. At the end, it seems to show evidence of dementia in its narrative male mind. A possible chronological forerunner to the objective-correlative of sea-flowers later in the author’s fiction canon. Meanwhile, the actual head in the title belongs to Ron who is a customer of the chauffeur-narrator called Edward. Ron, for me, is genuinely one of the big-headed people, whether the head is on or off the neck. The exquisitely grotesque humour and horror in this work is the only provenance you need. There is also artwork, a Raphael head, as payment for an act of ‘assisted dying’, an act that you will never forget. Far more than just scribble. A story of Aesthetics as well as other sex acts.

  3. TAWNY

    Baby-spoiler, and inferred lycanthropy, this is posh people gossiping after a posh christening in a posh house, a short dialogue that could effectively be staged theatrically. Or featured as a sketch on Monty Python alongside Anyone For Tennis. There is at least one line towards the end I would have loved to have delivered. (The words ‘farouche’, as well as ‘tawny’, precise terms for oblique qualities, or vice versa? Not sure the definitions of these words spoken here are correct.)


    “Children are cheaper anyway.”

    Until i saw the new Stan and Ollie film in the cinema this week, i did not know that Laurel & Hardy themselves were put up in second rank actorly accommodations when they first came to perform in Britain in the 1950s. 196E8404-BD76-42AC-953C-07FFFE7193D3You can easily imagine what these places were like, these places and their landladies. My own grandmother also had a needle though her fag. The Reggified narrator here was one such actor. A place where stayed, too, the eponymous midgets who often played Snow White’s dwarves (a group named after their non-midget manager). Imagine the shenanigans of hiding-seek games and i think then you would have no need to read this classic story of apolitical-incorrectness comparing midgets with dwarves, and the subsequent freakish haunting after a certain fracas in a pub between the two competing groups of midget and dwarf actors. May i send sympathies to the Reggified narrator. And, oh yes, to the landlady involved, too.

    By M.R. James, completed by Reggie Oliver

    “Thus the game becomes a kind of battle between the hiders and the finders, but generally it descends into good-humoured chaos long before any clear result is discernible.”

    Never good-humoured enough, as our world is bitterly polarised between them, even today. A tale of a man stalked by a woman as his dead cousin from whom he inherits a frightening children’s book. What more can I say? Well, quite a lot. But the story contrived to hide from me and I could not find it.

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