Saturday, 18 August 2012

The Ghost Of Jayne Mansfield

I first read G. D. Holbourne when I was about thirteen. My ma has more books than anyone. Really, anyone. When she left school and until she was married she worked in the British Museum Library and may well have taken most of it with her when she left. I’ve mentioned the character Martin ‘fucking’ Luther before now and it was one of his that I first read, and have not read since. You can’t find the books anywhere, mostly because apart from a very few rough collections most of them appeared in periodicals in the 50s and 60s.
What stuck with me from that first read was that Martin fucking Luther was haunted by the ghost of Jayne Mansfield. I has no idea then who that was, but she seemed very annoying. And so she was, probably raised by Martin in a previous story and he stuck with her since. I say ‘probably’ because I honestly have no idea, as I’ve not read the story where that happened (or even know if it even exists).
Now I know that Jayne Mansfield was a film starlet famous for her chest, a blonde 50s celebrity of great fame, a regular in Playboy. But at the time the story was written it wasn’t common knowledge that she was also a member of Anton LeVey’s Church of Satan. Perhaps G.D did, or heard such rumours of it, but what is true is that the story was written before her death at age 34. There’s nothing eerie about that. He probably just found her irritating. Certainly in the story she is an unpleasant, unhelpful sort of familiar like some devilish version of Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeanie. The story was probably extremely satirical, but that all went over my head at the time – what I remember is a young magician stuck for the moment with a ghostly, extremely sexual familiar who wouldn’t (despite his best efforts as an aside to the main story) just fuck off.
I don’t have to rely on memory for that last. Martin said ‘fuck’ a lot in every story he appeared in. No one else ever seemed to swear.
And so another quick challenge-sketch. And this time of a devilish, ghostly Jayne Mansfield.

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