by Barbara Godfrey
Readers may be surprised to learn that some of these Rather Nasty Stories were written as long ago as the 1950s when the author was working as a reporter on a local newspaper in Surrey. The tales have been likened by a London reviewer to the ever-popular Tales of the Unexpected, which feature regularly on television.
The Spare Child was, and still is, way ahead of its time. Set in an imaginary future, the shocking story was conceived long before anyone had heard of human cloning for spare-part surgery.
The grisly tale, The Mincer, was written in the days when mink farming was rare in Britain. The authors brother kept these slinky creatures in the large grounds of the family home in the Surrey countryside, and the author had personal experience of helping with their feeding – and joining in the occasional search in the undergrowth when one of the vicious animals escaped.
The remaining stories are in conventional settings, all but one with a final twist that jerks them into the realm of horror.
In The Time of her Life a bored housewife gets more than she bargained for; The Postman's Secret tells of a lonely man whose shameful habit ends up helping the community; and A Voice from the Grave is based on a fatal misunderstanding in a French telephone conversation.
This expanded second edition also contains four new stories. What’s the Point? was inspired by true events in Oslo, where the author took a Viking dagger to be repaired; Treble Chance harks back to the days of the football pools, with a man’s avarice and a moment’s carelessness proving his undoing; while A Sting in the Tale features a happy child whose blissful life at her seaside home is wrecked by an aquatic menace.
Last but not least is Take Fright, which was originally a short film made by the author’s husband Robert in 1958, and which received a special commendation. The climax involves a breathless chase through Surrey woodland, with the two main characters played by the author and her brother.