Archive for Butterfield 8

Pg. 17, #2

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2020 by dcairns

“You would scarcely expect me, constable,” I said coldly, “to absent myself from the farewell supper of a childhood friend who is leaving for Hollywood in a day or two and may be away from civilisation for years. Catsmeat would have been pained to his foundations if I had oiled out. And it wasn’t three in the morning, it was two-thirty.”


At close range, Colonel Margrave’s breath was a solid essence of whisky, but Branch didn’t reprimand him. If you had a good officer left, you didn’t reprimand him, no matter what he did. Also, Branch approved of whisky. It was a good release, under the circumstances. Probably better than his own, he thought, glancing at his scarred knuckles.


He got into a taxi and gave the address, and the driver was so slow starting the meter that the man repeated the address. The driver nodded, showing half his face. The man looked at the face and at the driver’s picture. They didn’t look much alike, but they never did. He supposed this was a reputable taxi company that operated the taxicabs at the station. Oh well, that wasn’t important.


The director’s record in this respect may well have attracted Columbia to the project of Anatomy of a Murder, since it was the only studio never to register with the PCA, Preminger, moreover, had a reputation for bringing in films under budget.


In this manner they marched for at least two hours, when at last the sacristan found himself on the borders of Blackheath. One of his lady companions then said to him, ‘We are going to a very pleasant party tonight a little way farther on. I wish you would accompany us; I am sure you would be well received, and you would have an opportunity of immensely improving the minds of the company.’


He took the receipt from the man holding it, translated it aloud for my benefit, word for word. It wasn’t one of those shorthand things you get up North. It was written out in great detail; it was a young book. It was in flowery Spanish. When I’d seen him composing it back there where I’d bought it, I’d thought that was the custom down there, to write out a complete description of each purchase, practically give its life history.


But today, there were no obsequies to observe at all.


Seven page seventeens from seven different volumes selected from around my bed.

The selections this week are from Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, by P.G. Wodehouse; The Metal Smile, a sci-fi anthology edited by Damon Knight, the story is Fool’s Mate by Robert Sheckley; Butterfield 8, by John O’Hara; The Cinema Book, edited by Pam Cook; The Oxford Book of English Short Stories, edited by A.S. Byatt, the story is The Sacristan of St Botolph by William Gilbert (father of the one from Gilbert & Sullivan); The Black Path of Fear by Cornell Woolrich; Valmouth, by Ronald Firbank.

They cohere nicely, I think. A bit of a booze theme, even though the passage from O’Hara’s very boozy book doesn’t mention the stuff.

The Mysterious Mr If, Part the Twelvtieth

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on August 15, 2011 by dcairns

So, I was looking at my Master Copy of the script of THE MYSTERIOUS MR IF, our Monday serial, and finding it rather funny, if I do say so myself. This is a good bit. Also quite exciting. Normally it’s easy to pick a cut-off point for an installment, I just end at a cliffhanger, but this is was fast-cut dramatic sequence and it’s ALL cliffhangers. Then I realized it would be better to cut it off BEFORE we get to the good bit. Sorry about that.

This episode seems to touch on the creepy, intrusive feelings I got from watching Vincent Price saw Arthur Lowe’s head off as he slumbers in bed in THEATRE OF BLOOD, as well as the paranoid phone-booth anxiety of LA CABINA and THE PRESIDENT’S ANALYST. And also by an experience I actually had on the High Street, when a phone booth unexpectedly started ringing. I was waiting at the traffic lights, and the only other person at the lights was a girl, and we looked at each other, and neither of us answered the phone. 

If we had — who knows?

Now read on…

(Why are the Norwegian soldiers standing to attention for a penguin at Edinburgh Zoo? It’s a good story…)



Howie mopes in his cage, riffling through this library book.

The Zookeeper appears carrying an old phone on a silver tray.



Reaching through the bars he picks up the receiver and dials.


Apparently I don’t want to talk to you but you can talk to my phone. Beep.


Sheena, I’m sorry about last night. I behaved like a lower primate. I’d like to make it up –

A rude COYPU severs the phone cord.


If she doesn’t take it in the right spirit, she’s not the girl for you.

Howie smiles weakly. The Zookeeper wanders off.


(to himself)

Bloody loony.

Howie returns to flicking through his Milan Kundera. He can’t concentrate – the page swims out of focus. Unintentionally he focuses on the ground outside his cage. He spots something. A trail of bacon leading past his cage.

Howie releases himself and goes to investigate.

Seeing him exit the cage, an OLD WOMAN drops her ice cream and runs off shouting.


The human’s escaping!


Howie follows the trail into the shadowy reptile house.

Empty. Skinks scuttle about boss-eyed, all else is silence.

The bacon trail stops at a SIGN that reads “FEEDING TIME”

From behind Howie, a growl.


SCREAMS from the Reptile House. A ROAR.


The RUMBLE of a closing metal shutter.

After locking the shutters of the museum, Mr. Netherbow heads up the High Street for home.

A voice from behind!


Help me…

Netherbow spins. Sheena stands before him in a transparent raincoat and vicar’s vestments. Netherbow is disgusted.


Ms. McQueen! Cover your shame!

Her face crumples like a bag. Her whole figure folds up into a PUPPET. Operating it – a sinister figure in black.

Netherbow splutters and flees.


Hurrying down the sooty street, he passes an empty phone box, the old-fashioned red kind.

The phone inside rings. Netherbow hesitates, then decides to ignore it. He hurries on, the ring hectoring him from behind.

Rounding a corner, he finds another identical phone booth, also ringing. He tuts and hurries past.

He passes another ringing booth, and another.


Netherbow arrives home at his lonely garret and slams the door on the ringing phones, immediately silencing them.

He turns and switches the light on.



Standing in the middle of the room is a red phone box. Netherbow is livid. Purple-face, he opens the door and lifts the receiver.


What IS it?

A JET OF WATER smacks him in the face, the receiver behaving like a shower head.

Netherbow drops it and backs away, but the door of the booth has jammed shut. He shoves against it, as the dangling phone soaks his ankles with a continuous spray of water.

Netherbow shoulders the door but can’t budge it.

Water laps at his shoes.

He pounds on the glass but it won’t break.

He’s ankle deep.

Picking up the receiver, Netherbow tries to hang it up, hoping the water will stop, but the powerful jet of fluid refuses to let the receiver rest in its cradle.

Knee deep.

He yells into the phone, getting sprayed in the mouth.


What do you want from me? I’m – glub – just a museum curator!

Mr. If, shadowy, sits up in Netherbow’s bed, next to a nude Police mannequin.


That’s right, Mr Curator, put things in boxes, categorize them, file them away. Let’s see how you like it in a box.

He circles the police mannequin’s nipples with lipstick.

Netherbow is up to his waist. He hammers on the glass with the receiver.


I’ll give you money! Sex! Anything!

If gets out of bed and crosses to the DRESSER.

He scrawls NO SALE on the mirror in lipstick.


Riddle me this, museum fellow. Did the enchantress McQueen return your dossier – the one celebrating my modest escapades?


I don’t know what you glub! I have powerful friends! My mum’ll glub glub –

He’s struggling to keep his head above water.

If strolls up to the booth and draws a set of full lips on a pane of the glass.

Drowned, Netherbow sinks down until his face rests against the glass and the lips seem to be his.


Alexander Graham Bell was a great Scotsman. But not as great as Esther Williams. Let that be a lesson to you.


A sailor went to sea sea sea

To see what he could see see see

But all that he could see see see

Was the bottom of the deep blue sea sea sea.

As he strolls off, we see that the phone booth is gone.

Netherbow, waterlogged and dead, is in bed with the dummy.

If flicks the light off and closes the door.