The Monkey's Paw is a classic, short horror story by WW Jacobs. I first read it in a compendium that I got from the school book club, and I can still remember how terrified it made me. It's about a strange talisman that grants its owners three wishes. The couple that have it wish first for money, which they get when their son is killed in a factory accident. Their second wish is that their son be brought back to life, and their third to wish him away again when they hear his reanimated form hammering on their door in the middle of the night.
The story works entirely on the power of the imagination: all of the horror is suggested. If Jacobs had been asked to write an ending where the door is opened, whatever he had described could not have been as scary as the thought of what might be there.
It came to mind today when Alastair Cook made the classic error of telling the press that he could not explain the reasons for Kevin Pietersen's sacking, but that when they finally do come out (apparently at the end of a gagging order that runs until September), his decision would be revealed as 'brave' and 'correct'.
"I know it is
frustrating to people, and it is to me too, that we have not put our
the story but it will happen," he said.
Setting aside the implication within that statement that someone else has told theirs, Cook has now built up a big reveal that could follow him throughout the season, depending on results. According to the Telegraph, Cook persuaded the ECB that he should say something rather than nothing today. For once the ECB may have been right.
Trailing some sort of definitive revelation that surely would have leaked by now if it exists at all has set up a summer of discomfort instead of a day's worth. Cook has promised a climactic finish that he will have to describe, and as The Monkey's Paw demonstrates, the thought is often much more compelling - and convincing - than the reality.