15 thoughts on “The Ghost Loser — Rhys Hughes


    A satire perhaps on the M.R.-Jamesian mostly ghostly tale told in a club atmosphere around a roaring fire, here a tale told by Clumsy the Ghostloser son of Carnacki the Ghosthunter who once told the tale of Hodgson’s Hog. But, no, not a satire, more a wordplay on the word club for its own sake, involving imagined Swiftian worlds within worlds.
    A satire within a satire, but any satire needs to be satirical about a subject that the reader would know something about, and whoever has heard of Carnacki these days? Still, it managed to inspire me to turn what Clumsy lost instead of hunted into the adept anagram of St. Hog.

  2. Small correction (and a very trivial one)… Hodgson described Carnacki as a “ghost finder” (rather than a ‘hunter’) and that is why his incompetent son is a “ghost loser” 🙂

  3. “Whoever has heard of Carnacki these days.” Tut tut . I’ve just finished editing the largest yet collection of Carnacki pastiches, which had a hugely successful campaign. The Ghost Finder is IN.

  4. The Vampiric Tramp

    “The first mile was a joy, the second was a delight, the third was a pleasure, and the fourth was a treat but only half done when his progress was arrested…”

    A Rhysian mind-squabbler to the nth degree of competence, squared. (Can’t do surtext 2s.) Wordplay apotheosised, nipples like acorns, soul energy sucked between story and reader and every result different according to the reader’s own power squared or negatives halved like Zeno’s. The conceit of the ‘trampire’ explicated, the character of Clumsy extrapolated, but will it appeal to Carnacki purists such as presumably carfanel above and to other ghost story ‘confidents’ (as this story clumsily spells the word)?
    Clumsy ‘finds’ what he ‘hunts’ and hunts again for what he finds in a deliberately conjured-up archetype of a country lane where he meets the trampire, a lane leading from a single platform railway station as a stolen ambience from the best of ‘creepy stories’, whether to be satirised or not.
    Any Zenophobia or Political Correctness as halved by time travel.

  5. The School for High Fliers

    ‘Listen, think, fly!’
    The three stages, I’d say, of launching from the ever-establishing rungs of the literary gestalt as a ladder to reach the highest flight of one’s own utmost creativity….

    “Clumsy took a deep breath and reminded himself of his calling in life. This was another chance to solve a supernatural mystery and prove that he was almost as great as his father had been.”
    Or even greater?!

    A hilarious story with a grand Rhysian conceit of rugs at school (the school being of course an archetypal eerie mansion), indeed it being a school for flying carpets! Clumsy and his two would-be ghostfinder rivals, called Bounder and Yucky, chase carpets to this school, carpets in the form of their own kidnapped rugs (buoyed by already skyworthy rugs with crimson bird designs) and this tripeasy trio of bounders even get themselves rolled up inside carpets, the carpets in the ancient ‘Weirdmonger’ story and ‘Nemonymous Night’, notwithstanding.

    “‘Remove your elbow from my face,’ said Yucky.”

    The story ends with a musical ‘dying fall’, Clumsy having had his fall broken by a ladder’s now broken rungs.
    Simurgh: his rug or mine!

    • Strangely, a few minutes after writing above, I read the following for my next review (here):-

      “‘I slept rugged,’ Tompkins repeated.
      ‘You can sleep in the car,’ said Mother brightly. She winked at me.”


    “At the bottom of the empty glass was a tiny screwdriver.”

    I can say, without fear of lying, that this story contains some of its author’s best jokes. I even laughed out loud at a few of them, especially the ones involving a ‘phantom pregnancy’ and, later, stiff drinks. The main plot is about the multi-inventor Boppo Higgins who somehow joins Clumsy’s Club and allows Clumsy to literally follow in his more adept father’s footsteps by means of invented. goggles, involving the pendulum between lies and truths concerning ghosts and dead-end walls. You will need a pair of Boppo’s goggles to follow the audit trail of this story’s self-referential analogous plot without splitting your sides. (Only connect the wonder of a man’s own late father following in his son’s footsteps, as I now irrelevantly or irreverently wander or weave.)

    “gnomic remarks in time to the tick tock”


    “He pondered his situation, accepted the fact he was a failure, smiled bitterly to himself…”

    The “last chance” for failed Clumsy in older age to match the earlier success of his late father Carnacki: “….although I lack the vigour and strength of a young man, I have experience”, he says. And, indeed, more broadly, the last chance for we writers to fulfil our own early promise, i.e. to become Winners instead of Losers (‘win’, I find, being the true opposite of ‘lose’), but as another Wordsworth once said, ‘the Child is Father of the Man’. Only Connect, I say.
    And perhaps this is Rhys’ own last chance for hunting out the killer conceit he always envisaged conceiving, ironically the conceit to end all conceits. A conceit concerning switched magnetic poles, time’s relativity of worthlessnes, and what I read as this story’s unspoken reference towards our own world’s moral compass being askew, and something eating away at both ends of childhood and old age. But let us hope we are all Cloudskimmers eventually….
    Yet, I am already well past this story’s stated barrier of 70, anyway. My own experience worthless….
    “It took half a minute of clapping before the silence he craved appeared.”


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s