The Grey Ones by J. B. Priestley


And, with tongue in cheek perhaps (as I myself sometimes, if rarely, have in my gestalt real-time reviews), or with an eye towards political satire, Aickman chooses the next story, as attritional as the previous one above … with forces draining us of goodness like an evil laundry, a work influential upon his own “Residents’ Only” &c., or vice versa?

THE GREY ONES by J.B. Priestley

This is now a story firmly established for our times today. A conspiracy-theory story that rings true! No longer tongue in cheek or satirical, but in raw horrifying reality. That Blakean “evil principle” manipulating our lives, with ostentatious fountain pen and a name as ordinary as Smith. A Tarr and Fether fable. New trade restrictions and export licences. A so-called painter with the name Firbright, its ‘e’ missing, representing a remorseless heat in ironic contrast to the text’s mention of a “cold, cold Hell”. Even one’s own friends and relations are part of the conspiratorial clusters, vampiric dampers all of them, “choosing skins for lampshades.” I now feel myself to be on the last balcony for real, overlooking their conclaves: the “big, semi-transparent toads” praising “Adaragraffa — Lord of the Creeping Hosts.” Seriously boorish. Seriously disturbing.

Full context here:

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