The Prehensile Coffin’s Lair


“Oh, it makes my blood boil!’”

Those relatives waiting for a funeral hearse to arrive, during the era of blackout and rations, featuring many folk, here brought back to life, working-class folk that I remember still living in the 1950s around me. Bigamy, iodine socks, double declutching, bad fish versus disinfectant — and a stoical acceptance of life and death but still saying ‘What’s the use?’
And cheated rations under the bed keeping company with the jerry!
But with added ingredients such as four mutes, and a landmine falling through the air above the prehensile coffin that is being lowered into its new ‘lair’
The main viewpoint – one of the aunts: “If you’d got to be a woman it was better to be an old-fashioned woman, with plenty of work to keep your mind off it.” Even a viewpoint of the new vicar, too. And not forgetting Dodger Blackbone, perhaps reconciled to the mourning aunt by a bit of nookie when sheltering in the grave? But who… “touched his elbow, pointed to the grave.”

“…a column of dust was still boiling up,…”


This story reminds me of the socially quaint period humour and darkness of William Trevor, whose ‘The Old Boys’ I am currently reviewing here:, having in recent years also reviewed all his stories!


Full context of this story’s inclusion in a Penguin Anthology and my review of it :

Robert Aickman, too:

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