BIND YOUR HAIR by Robert Aickman
“‘Let there be wet,’ quoted Clarinda to herself in her clear gentle voice. ‘Oh let there be wet.’”
And now, of course, we duly arrive at the most clinging and insidious ‘I’m not sure that time is the essence, Slow,’ of them all — indeed the most gluey Zenoism (“it was now something after half past”) in the shape of the MIST against the wetness of which Clarinda, during a solitary outing, needs to bind her hair, as she wades through near ankle-breaking muddiness, and through very soft rubber and other resistances of passage, an outing that she foolhardily takes during this first stay with her future husband’s ‘lobster-pot’ of a family in an empty part of an English county whereto rich men of the shoe and the bootlace industry retire, one of them being her fiancé’s father. She tries to escape, by means of this outing, from the socially claustrophobic house and its hindsight promise of an over-large breakfast fated for the next morning. An outing that turns out to be darkly time-mazed with gradients of early cinematography, including sights of pigs and smells of unsavouriness and meeting two indeterminate children and a slouching mis-languaged man with a shepherd’s crook, and the unforgettable Mrs Pagani who had been part of the original social gathering at the family house.
A story that is another theme-and-variations by Aickman upon the Lordly Ones, I guess. There is even, within it, a vision of my own photo above that I have used time and time and time again in my reviews, a photo originally taken uncounted years ago. Not forgetting the children’s diving-suits with hoods. And the long red mouths. And listening to four chapters of PERSUASION read aloud by the father in one sitting before supper. No need, surely, to provide further inducement for those with sufficient sump to receive this story. And strong enough ankles to kick away its boars.
“Can I change my shoes?”
All my reviews of Robert Aickman: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/robert-aickman/