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This is the Speech Thought and Writing Presentation Corpus compiled by Elena Semino Mick Short and Martin Wynne at Lancaster University Contact or The corpus markup is not real SGML as SGML outlaws overlapping elements and so linguistic annotations which cross textual boundaries cannot be encoded It would be desirable at some point to make all of the markup conformant with the recommendations of the Text Encoding Initiative TEI and to make the whole thing XML Some textual and annotation errors in this text have been identified and will be corrected for a future release Please see for updates Errors can be reported to Title Three Times Table Author Sara Maitland Publication Chatto Windus Ltd London B Lorry driver D those skinny men H Jim J Phoebe K Rachel L Lisa M Sue Y All characters in the house X the women Z the boys His eagerness made her suddenly want to be intelligent again Under his dynamic tutelage she started reading not the literature of her childhood but hard politics sociology philosophy ideas and experimental fiction To please him she learned to talk about what she read and what she thought He was and she forced herself to remember this with gratitude one of the best talkers she had ever met funny and fast Passionate and unashamed A man who could and would talk the hind legs back on to an injured donkey provided it had decent proletarian credentials They had all learned from him she and Lisa still spoke stylistically as he had taught them to He had set his mark on them Where was he now Phoebe lying on her bed in her mother's house in north London asked herself with a sudden rush of nostalgia In what corner of what foreign field did he still keep the faith further the revolution wake up his current lover at three in the morning to discuss the delicate interweavings of class and race She could not bear to think that he had taken all that pure wrathful zeal into marketing or insurance broking Occasionally she half hoped to see him again she would find herself watching faces rising towards her on the escalator of the Tube and wonder what she would feel if one of those faces were suddenly to be his Where had they all gone those extraordinary skinny left-wing men who had bullied their girl-friends into the Women's Movement and been surprised when the hand with which they had so kindly offered freedom had been bitten so damn hard Nearly twenty years later Phoebe still found it hard to suppress a little vindictive chuckle at the looks of growing shock on Jim's face Jim and Lisa's Jonathan and Sue's Alan when they discovered that their righteousness was not enough Their women far from being grateful turned on them snarling in late night conversations telling them to shut up far from setting them free to work for the Revolution their women demanded that they take emotional responsibility and also clean the loos And finally only a year or so later turned them out of house and home put them on the street as women who failed to be properly grateful to the fathers had been put for centuries But even as she chuckled Phoebe knew now that this was not fair There had been a time a brief time a glorious dawn when despite her growing awareness of her own sexual failure despite her anger and frustration despite her own laziness and lack of commitment there had been a time when she had been happy and hopeful and joyous It had not as it turned out been Jim that had made the happiness for her but the house itself However he with his determined hands and determined nose had been her way in She did not know where he was now and she did not really care but he had probably been the most influential person in her life her handsome prince and Maggie's father He had given her that household a little society warming itself in its own glow of virtue insulating itself from the big bad world but within its own limits it had been open and supportive She had during that year woken some mornings giddy with courage and boldness excited and certain Motivated It had been however briefly a time when her body and her mind had fitted together so tidily and wholely that waking up one morning and deciding that it was time to go back to Oxford and visit her mother was neither traumatic nor casual but straightforward She had discussed it with her family hugged Lisa and Sue kissed Jim left home and taken the tube to Acton where she stuck out her thumb on the edge of the A40 on a smiling spring day and gone home Had that she wondered now been a mistake A kindly lorry driver on his way to North Wales chatting of his own daughter and his home had dropped her at the roundabout at the top of the Banbury Road at about lunch-time She had walked down through suburban Summertown taking her time but without reluctance watching the tidiness of the shoppers and the smartness of the shops with something akin to smugness how little energy and vitality they had compared to her own shopping street with its untidy market atmosphere permeating even the Safeways and Boots which had tried to raise their modern never-had-it-so-good fa ades in challenge to the poverty and squalor and had failed Two blocks away from the house of her childhood it suddenly occurred to her that her mother might have left that there might be strangers in the hallway a different set of curtains hanging at the windows her father's study might have been turned into a playroom for a new generation of North Oxford children so different from herself in her prim Clark's T-bar sandals that she would not be able to recognise her own infancy in theirs It would be too humiliating to have to contact her mother through her publishers or her employers How could one ring a bell on a house door in respectable places like this and say Excuse me does my mother live here That was the stuff of melodrama and now she was back in Oxford she knew she was somewhere somehow still too middle-class too much her father's daughter to want that This was leafy north Oxford this was the pace of security This was the corner to which she had tottered her mother holding her on white leather reins her legs encased in knitted leggings whose scratchiness she could still remember This was the street along which she had run a skinny and excited ten-year-old to boast to her father that she was the only girl who had made it to the next round of the chess competition This was the pavement along which awkward and gawky she had struggled to find a graceful even a comfortable way of carrying her cello to and from her chamber music group She hesitated at the corner reluctant almost to discover that she was now as of this moment completely lost in the world and for the first time she asked herself clearly why she had decided to come here This was not home Home was in Peckham in the shabby house whose light spilled each evening out onto the street Family was Jim and the others family was her women's group and squabbling at two-thirty in the morning about whether women could be said to constitute a separate class because they had a separate relation to the mode of production while still making each other coffee and giving each other hugs And love was standing outside the local supermarket collecting signatures for the campaign to keep Family Allowance as a separate benefit She had forsaken her people and her father's house and had like every other well-brought-up girl established her own household and she should cleave only unto it forsaking all others so long as she should live She did not know why she had come Not certainly to reassure her mother but to boast of her new self!
To show off And then the moment had passed and tall and tanned and fit in the sunshine she had walked down the green street with the gardens either side of her and had known by an instinctive glance that her mother still lived there that nothing had changed She rang the doorbell listened to the silence within and felt a moment of panic Then she laughed at herself with an edge of self-mocking irony All her self-righteousness had failed to inform her that her mother a hardy professional was certainly still at work in the city that she had left behind her They had probably passed each other on the road She went back to the corner and across to the nearby pub where she sat sipping beer munching a cheese sandwich and waiting She had waited all afternoon later sitting in the garden and reading When the sun moved round she too had moved to the doorstep her sleeves rolled up and concentrating half on the book and half on the remembered scene until her mother had arrived walking up the street where they had both walked so many times before That had been the moment of her undoing Her mother had got older fatter and sadder Phoebe felt an enormous and unwelcome surge of pity of compassion and caring and with it guilt In one swoop the feeling swallowed her up and she had never got rid of it since She saw in Rachel's face three years of loss and loneliness she saw too the simpler anger that Rachel would never dare to express And to cover up the dreadfulness of the moment the pain of the knowledge that Rachel had become old alone and friendless she had giggled and said something about having lost her key She felt the deep need in Rachel's hug and responded to it but it was Rachel's need not her own She was furious Her fury made her aggressive and she attacked She was mean and horrible to her mother snide self-righteous and unkind Only in her anger could she drown out the dark shadow that pity and guilt had cast over her She hated herself for it and went on and on convinced that her only defence was to make Rachel throw her out again and Rachel refused to be provoked Finally Rachel responded and Phoebe had forgotten in her wanderings just how bloody clever Rachel was How well she could keep control and use words and manipulate their meanings and score points It was this ruthless clarity and brightness that she had run away from She Phoebe told herself did not play those stupid games any more she was direct and straightforward But her mouth motored on and what came out was simply and childishly rude Phoebe felt foolish Rachel seemed able to absorb everything that Phoebe tried She was calm and sweet and later insisted on taking Phoebe out to dinner at some fancy little pseudo-Bohemian bistro Then to her final and total humiliation Phoebe found that she was actually having a good time she was enjoying her mother and her mother's easy authority and charm Her mother she thought with a most annoying pride who was one of the few genuinely creative women scientists around and in whose success were it anyone except her mother's she would be rejoicing She went to bed in her own room still full of pictures and possessions that had belonged to a previous and vanished Phoebe She curled up in the position she had slept in as a child and realised with a sinking heart that it was not only the most comfortable way of being in bed but it was also one that you could not adopt in company She thought that she never wanted to sleep with Jim again that the bonds of love were snares and that she must at all costs leave as early as possible the next morning and never come back She had a clear and frightening premonition that she would not be able to manage it Perhaps if she had not got pregnant perhaps they could have pulled it off Perhaps not Now she no longer knew She found it hard to remember with any precision exactly what had happened next She remembered a little of the acrimony of the mounting bitterness within the house of their winter of discontent which was so much part of and not part of the winter outside and the miners strike But the light no longer poured out of their house and onto the street the power cuts although they supported them passionately cut off their power somewhere Jim and Jonathan especially were never there and the arguments about washing up versus serving the revolution lost their gaiety and became mean-mouthed Alan and Sue moved out went north to do something else Phoebe had not seen Alan since though Sue had moved back again briefly later that winter saddened and distressed by Alan's disaffection She had been part of a long stream of women who had come and gone swiftly lives collapsing in one area as they gained power and certainty in another Suddenly there were too many women realising that their happiness had to be taken at the expense of their men's men who had promised so much and could not now deliver the goods just like her father five years before Lisa and Phoebe shared the painful knowledge that they had been conning themselves as well as their men How had a Conservative Government happened Where were the golden days which Paris and Chicago and Grosvenor Square had promised them In the meantime the miners represented hope for all of them but within the giddy cycle of excitements they were all edgy with new fears and old illusions After Sue and Alan left Lisa and Phoebe had invited their neighbour Jo and her lover Sophie to come and share the house with them Jim and Jonathan had been away picketing and pamphleteering in Reading had simply been not available and Jo's squat had been suddenly repossessed and it did not occur to any of the women that the boys would mind Sophie moreover actually had a job had an income which was beginning to be something of a pressing issue inflation and the changing climate began to bite into their indifferent superiority to the outside world and they had given no thought as to how to fight that Then the boys as it turned out minded bitterly having Jo and Sophie Since on principle they could not say that lesbianism made them nervous and that the complex new demands made on them scared them they found more underhand and aggressive ways of expressing their resentments The women outnumbered them and plotted together Having the other two women in the house taught Lisa something new about herself she and Jonathan stopped sleeping together which left them all short of space Phoebe felt betrayed by Lisa's desertion She and Jim talked together secretly about leaving the house and going off to somewhere more committed but Phoebe could not bring herself to give up the only home she knew of could not bring herself to choose absolutely Jim's commitments over the women's commitments Title The Five Gates to Hell Author Rupert Thomsom Publication Bloomsbury London B Sir Charles Dobson C Vasco D generic you E Voice-over F door J Creed K Jed L Carol M Lady Dobson O Dobson's resignation statement Z one of the papers Y the dinner guests There are times when your life seems to jump tracks Slow train to fast local to express You have the sense that from now on you'll be travelling on a different line you'll be seeing different views through the window It was November and Jed had just turned twenty-two Creed opened the glass panel one morning as they were returning from the airport and said Where do you live Spaghetti Mangrove East Creed shook his head I need you closer It was exactly what Jed had been waiting to hear but he kept his voice level Where've you got in mind sir The Palace Jed's heart lifted in his ribs The Palace was where Creed lived in a penthouse suite on the fourteenth floor so the idea made perfect sense But the Palace was also the most exclusive apartment hotel in the city It was located on Ocean Drive between C and D it took up the entire block With its two twin towers of baroque grey stone it was just about the only building in Moon Beach that wasn't either white or pale-blue Its lobby was the size of a railway station all peach marble and glass and gilded metal The central chandelier was gold-plated and weighed it was rumoured something in the region of half a ton Everyone had stayed at the Palace Heads of state movie-stars tycoons Just to be able to give it as your address!
You'll be in the basement Creed said but it should be adequate He allowed himself a smile It can hardly fail to be an improvement on Mangrove East in any case Jed moved that same week To reach his new apartment you had to use the old tradesmen's entrance past the service elevator down four flights of stairs along a corridor with a linoleum floor The basement of the Palace was a lost kingdom of storerooms washrooms and boiler-rooms Fat grey pipes hugging the ceilings dull yellow walls The air smelt of lagging paint damp And also ever so faintly and inexplicably of marzipan In the end you came to a door that said and this was equally inexplicable D There was no C and no E There wasn't even a A D was unique and without context It was another dimension It was Jed's new home There were two rooms both painted a tired pale-green There was a bed a TV a phone There was air-conditioning That was about it If you parted the net curtains and peered sideways and upwards you could see one tiny piece of bright blue sky but you might pull a muscle doing it A constant clash and tinkle came from the kitchens across the courtyard like the percussion section of an orchestra from hell At night the boiler took over roaring and trembling until dawn During his first week in the Palace he hardly slept It was during the second week that Carol asked him to dinner at her parents place As the taxi moved down off the harbour bridge and into the suburb of Paradise he remembered what Vasco had said and turned to her Your father he said is he really the chairman Carol looked embarrassed Yes He sat back Jesus So her father really was the chairman Her father was Sir Charles Dobson Why Carol said Didn't you know No not really Vasco said something about it but I didn't believe him I thought everyone knew And she gave him a smile that resembled gratitude It was as if in not knowing he'd paid her a great compliment Sir Charles and Lady Dobson lived on Pacific Drive a road that wound its way through the canyons then doubled back towards the ocean to link eventually with the South Coast Expressway The house was one of the white wedding-cake mansions in the block high wrought-iron gates and video security and just the hills rising in silence behind Jed paid the taxi and stood still You needed millions to breathe this air This air exactly right here Millions And suddenly he took the rumours and put them on like a coat Lifted and dropped his shoulders a few times he'd seen people do it when they tried on clothes in stores Not a bad fit Maybe he really was a cunning son of a bitch just like Vasco said he was Certainly he was thinking all those thoughts Jed Morgan he was thinking Chairman Dinner was plate after plate of food he'd hardly ever set eyes on let alone eaten caviar bortsch salmon duck And then as if that wasn't indigestible enough the conversation turned to the subject of advertising The new Paradise Corporation commercial had just aired the previous night Jed had seen it It opened with a black screen and a voice that said This is probably the most frightening place in the world It pulled back slowly to reveal a fringe of green around the black You were looking into an open grave The voice went on to say that when you were faced with something as frightening as death you needed the right people around you and the right people were the Paradise Corporation etc etc One of the papers had attacked the commercial for being too emotive People at the dinner table were springing to the commercial's defence using words like honest and bold Well Jed said speaking up for the first time at least there weren't any tolling bells in it All the talk around him suddenly subsided he felt strangely shipwrecked in the silence I used to work on commercials for funeral parlours he went on I used to think that if I heard one more tolling bell I'd go out of my mind After the laughter had died away he told a story about one particular commercial that he'd worked on It was a testimonial for a funeral parlour which had dealt with the victims of a forest fire He needed the sound of a forest fire running under the voice-track but he couldn't find the effect on file It was seven at night and the commercial had to be presented at breakfast the next day In the end he had no choice He had to create the effect himself How did you do that Lady Dobson asked I'll show you Jed said but I need absolute silence Out of his left pocket he produced a handful of candy-wrappers and during the hush that followed he created a forest fire for the Dobsons and their guests in the Dobson's very own dining-room It was a great success And these are only Liquorice Whirls he said In those days I was eating Almond Toffee Creams and they came in much cracklier paper Either Sir Charles had forgotten what Jed did or else nobody had bothered to tell him because he now leaned forwards and impressed it seemed by Jed's ingenuity and verve said Perhaps young man you should come and work for me All eyes locked on Jed He waited three seconds You have to time things But Sir Charles he said I already do He looked round People were weeping with laughter He caught Carol's eye and winked His skin had picked up a glow from the lilies on the table The candlelight had taken his cheap suit and made it over in some priceless fabric The vintage wine had anointed his tongue with new and seductive language He could do no wrong When the meal was over Sir Charles escorted him into the library He watched Sir Charles cut the tip off his cigar Being old had done something to Sir Charles's face something that being poor sometimes did It had sucked the colour out Eyes hair skin all different shades of grey and white Distinguished yes But colourless And cheeks with folds in them like old wallets He wondered how much Sir Charles was worth But now the cigar was lit and turning to Jed Sir Charles spoke through billowing smoke So who exactly do you work for I work for Mr Creed I'm his driver Maybe it was only a coincidence but as soon as Jed pronounced the name of his employer the cigar fell from Sir Charles's fingers It bounced on the carpet shedding chunks of red-hot ash God-DAMN Sir Charles spread his legs and stooped He flicked the ash towards the fireplace with the back of his hand Then he stuck the cigar between his teeth and slowly sucked the life back into it Let me ask you something Jed he said when the smoke was billowing once more Have you ever been to head office I have yes What did you think of it The head office of the Paradise Corporation as Sir Charles knew perfectly well was just about the most famous building in the city Built entirely of black glass it marked the beginning of what was known as Death Row a stretch of downtown First Avenue where most of the big funeral parlours had their offices All night long lights burned in the central elevator shaft and in the windows of the twenty-fifth floor The result was a white cross that stood out among the familiar neon logos of airlines and oil companies The cross was a landmark You could even buy postcards of it Jed had only been inside the building once and all he could remember was the angel She was part sculpture part fountain Her head and body were metal and her wings were water water that was forced through holes in her back and lit from beneath so it looked solid like glass He remembered the hiss of those wings the lick and swish of revolving doors the warble of phones All tricks a hypnotist might use Forget your loss Forget your grief He remembered drifting drifting close to sleep You walk into that building Sir Charles said and you know you're in capable hands Clouds of smoke trailed over his shoulder as he paced You've got to win people's trust Trust is very important Without trust and he came to a standstill and tipped his chin into the air the thought still forming Without trust Jed said we wouldn't be standing here now Sir Charles swung round Precisely For a moment he was rendered motionless by surprise a kind of respect But only for a moment What I'm trying to say to you is this is a hard business A cut throat business at times But you should always remember one thing It's people that you're dealing with People He thrust both hands in his pockets and rocked back on his heels I'm sixty-nine and I'm still working Nobody really retires from this business It's a way of life He showed Jed to the door of the library Is there anything I can do for you my boy Not that I can think of Then his face moved close to Jed's and he said Are you interested in my daughter I'll let you into a secret Sir Charles Jed said I'm not interested in your daughter at all I'm just pretending to be It's your money I'm really after Sir Charles stared at Jed and Jed stared back he wasn't going to help Dobson out with this one At last a smile began to pull at the folds in Sir Charles's face as if his cheeks really were wallets and his smile was going through them looking for cash then the smile turned to laughter it pushed between his teeth it was dry and rhythmic it sounded uncannily like someone counting a stack of dollar bills Jed saw Carol at the end of the corridor and began to walk towards her You remember what I said Sir Charles called after him The next day Creed asked Jed to drive him out to the Crumbles The Crumbles lay to the east of the city All the land out there had been under water once It was flat for miles There were a few wooden beach huts down by the shoreline Some old mine buildings in the distance some gravel pits Otherwise just shingle grey and orange and a soft wind tugging at the heads of weeds He followed Creed's directions leaving the road for an unpaved track that seemed to lead towards the ocean The track widened and then vanished Then they were driving over rough ground loose stones popping under the tyres He parked close to where the land sloped downwards to a narrow pebble beach and switched the engine off Creed stared out of the window his chin cushioned on one hand his eyes doubly concealed first by the tinted windows of the car then by his sunglasses Jed thought he understood It was like Vasco and the mudbanks of the river It was where Creed came to do his thinking Where was Vasco Jed wondered He'd scarcely set eyes on him since the night they'd had dinner together at the house in Westwood Nobody had mentioned him either and Jed didn't feel he should ask He poured himself a cup of coffee from his private flask and watched the white gulls lift and scatter against the dull grey sky The glass panel slid open behind him I heard you were out at Dobson's place last night That's right sir I was He'd known Creed would find out He'd even wanted him to He wanted Creed to be amused impressed even A chauffeur at the chairman's dinner table!
Any particular reason Carol asked me Carol His daughter The receptionist Creed said nothing The one with the limp Jed said I know the one Another silence Wind pushed at the car Then Creed said Dobson's on his way out The chairman On his way out But Creed didn't give Jed time to think When a ship sinks he said that's when you see who the rats are What interests me is which rats leave which ship The glass panel slid shut One week later Sir Charles Dobson resigned as chairman of the Paradise Corporation The decision had been taken the statement said for personal reasons The new chairman elected unanimously by the members of the board was Mr Neville Creed Jed read the statement three times while he was eating breakfast that morning It sounded calm and measured utterly reasonable But he couldn't make any sense of it He saw Dobson standing in the library Nobody really retires from this business It's a way of life He couldn't make any sense of it at all And then he saw Creed sitting in the back of a black car parked on the Crumbles Dobson's on his way out Title Archangel Author Gerald Seymour Publication Fontana London C People back in London D the foreign minister H the political officer J Holly K prisoner on train L prisoner on train M consul X unknown Z the warders His weapon against the rusty binding of the bolt was a fifty kopeck coin For more than an hour he had crouched on the floor bracing himself as the speed changes of the train and the unevenness of the track destroyed the momentum of his painstaking work With the milled edge of the coin he chipped at the red-brown crust that had formed between the lower lip of the cap of the bolt and the metal sheet plate of the carriage flooring He had something to show for his effort A tiny pile of dust debris was collected beside his knee and some had stained the material of his grey trousers Those who had known Michael Holly at his home in the south-east of England or had shared office and canteen space with him at the factory on the Kent fringes of London might not now have recognized their man A year in the gaols had left its mark The full flesh of his cheeks and chin had been scalped back to the bone A bright confidence at his eyes had been replaced by something harsher Clothes that had hung well now fell shapelessly like charity hand-outs A ruddiness in his face had given way to a pallor that was unmistakably the work of the cells His full dark hair had been cropped in the barber's chair of the holding prison to a brush without lustre This was an old carriage but still well capable of performing the task set for it when it had first joined the rolling-stock in the year that Holly had been born It had carried many on this journey It had brought them in their hundreds in their thousands in their tens of thousands along this track It was a carriage of the prison train that ran twice weekly from the capital city to the interior depths of the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Mordovia On the floor in the filth and the watery amber half-light he scraped at the bolt that had felt the boots and slippers and sandals of the prisoners who had encompassed his life time Not easy to prise at the rim of the bolt because this was a purpose-built carriage No ordinary carriage not subject to any hasty conversion to ensure its usefulness but out of the railway factory yards of Leningrad and designed only for transporting the prisoners A walkway for the guards and compartments to separate the convicts into manageable groups each fitted with small hatches for the dropping of their black bread rations and unmoveable benches and shelves for a few to sleep on The carriages had their name The Stolypin carriage carried the name of the Tsarist minister struck down by an assassin seventy years before The new men of the Kremlin were not above the simplicity of taking a former idea and adapting it to their needs The walls the bars the bolts and the locks remained only the prisoners of the regime had changed They had brought Holly by car from the Lefortovo gaol to the train while Muscovites still slept He had barely slept after the meeting with the Consul from the Embassy and the escort of men in the khaki uniforms of the Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti had taken him still drowsy from the back seat to the train at a far platform The one who wore on his blue shoulder flash the insignia of major's rank had shaken his hand and grinned a supercilious smile Into the carriage the door slammed the bolt across the key turned Two other men for company Perhaps they had been loaded on the train many hours before Holly because they seemed to him to be sleeping when he had first seen them in the darkened carriage He had not spoken then they had not spoken since A barrier existed between them But they watched him All through the morning as they sat on the makeshift bunks they stared without comment at the kneeling figure who ground away at the rust around the bolt The work at the bolt mindless and persistent allowed the thoughts of Michael Holly to flow unfettered The week before had stretched the distance of a lifetime And the lifetime had ended in a death and death was the carriage that rolled shaking and relentless towards the East Where to go back to where to find the birth Months weeks days how far to go back The coin had found the central stem of the bolt the rust shell was dispersed The bolt was not strong arthritic with age and corrosion How far to go back Not the childhood not the parentage that was a different story that was not the work of the last crowded hours Forget the origins of the man What of Millet Complacent plausible Millet But neither was Millet a part of these last days nor was the journey to Moscow nor the rendezvous that was aborted nor the arrest and the trial Millet had a place in the history of the affair but that place was not in its present not in its future Where did the present begin Michael Holly now on his knees on a Stolypin carriage floor and unshaven because they would not permit him a razor and with the hunger lapping at his belly had been a model prisoner in the Vladimir gaol/200 kilometres east of the capital A foreigner and housed on the second floor of the hospital block in the cell that it was said had held the pilot Gary Powers and the businessman Greville Wynne Down for espionage given fifteen years by the courts Everyone from the governor to the humblest creeping trustie knew that Michael Holly would serve only a minimal proportion of those fifteen years There was a man in England there would be an exchange So they gave him milk they gave him books to read they allowed food parcels from the Embassy They waited and Michael Holly waited for the arrangements to be made The Political Officer at Vladimir said that it would not be too long and the interrogations had been courteous and the warders had been correct When they had taken him from the hospital block with his possessions and spare clothes in a cloth sack he had smiled and shaken hands and believed that the flight was close Berlin he had thought it would be In Lefortovo holding prison he had learned the truth across a bare scrubbed table from the Consul sent by the Embassy An obsequious little man the Consul had been crushed by the message that he brought The Consul had stumbled through his speech and Holly had listened It's not that it's anyone's fault Mr Holly you mustn't think that It's just terribly bad luck it's the worst luck I've heard of since I've been here that's eight years It was all set up well you know that People had worked very hard on this matter you really have to believe that Well we can't deliver That's what it's all about now A swap is a swap one man to be exchanged for another It was you and this fellow and we can't deliver I'm dreadfully sorry Mr Holly it's the most extraordinary thing but the chap's dead snuffed it He had the best medical treatment well you'll not be interested in that The bolt shifted Holly strained with his fingers to twist the coin under the lip of the bolt The bolt had moved a millimetre perhaps two But I can assure you that people back in London were really most upset at this development I'm afraid the Soviets are going to take rather a hard line with you now Mr Holly There's no point in my not being frank The Foreign Ministry informs us now that since your parents were both born Soviet citizens under Soviet law you are a Soviet citizen also I know Mr Holly you were born in the United Kingdom you were brought up there you were in possession of a valid British passport when you travelled to Moscow The Soviets are going to disregard all that We've had a hell of a job getting this degree of consular access I want you to know that We said they couldn't have the corpse if we didn't get it that's by the by but it's understood by both sides that this is the last of such meetings You're being transferred to the Correctional Labour Colonies but you won't be classified as a foreigner you won't be in the foreigners camp They're going to take you beyond our reach Mr Holly you've always proclaimed your innocence of the charges and accusations made against you From our side the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been very firm too You are innocent as far as Her Majesty's Government is concerned We're not wavering from that position You understand that Mr Holly We deny absolutely that you were involved in any nonsensical espionage adventure It's very important that we continue to take that line you can see that I'm sure Mr Holly the British government knows that you have supported your parents most generously during their retirement Your parents will not be abandoned by us Mr Holly just as we will not abandon the stance that you were completely innocent of trumped-up charges You do understand me Mr Holly The bolt rose a centimetre There was a dribble of sweat at Holly's forehead Too much space now for the coin to be useful his finger could slide under the lip The rough metal edge cut into his finger tip An eddy of chill air swirled into the carriage fastening on his knuckles He heard louder than before the dripping clatter of the wheels on the rails beneath him Look Mr Holly I've painted the picture black because that's the only honest thing to do We'll keep trying of course that goes without saying but in the present climate of relations there's little chance of your situation altering dramatically You'll be going to the camps and you have to come to terms with that What I'm saying is well you have to learn to live in those places Mr Holly Try and survive try and live with the system Don't kick it don't fight it You can't beat them I've lived here long enough to know In a few years things may change I can't promise that but they may And you have my word that you won't be forgotten not by Whitehall not by Foreign and Commonwealth It's going to boil down to keeping your pecker up looking on the best side of things You'll do that won't you old chap There's not really anything more for me to say Only I suppose Good Luck That was what the present had on offer to Michael Holly A furtive junior diplomat bowing and scraping his way out of the interview section of the Lefortovo ogling the KGB man and thanking him for a fifteen-minute access to a prisoner for whom the key was now thrown far away Forget the present Holly reckon on the future The future is a plate of steel floor covering that creaks and whistles as it is dragged clear of the supports to which it was bolted down thirty years before That's the future Holly A steel plate above the stone chippings and wood sleepers that mark the track from Moscow to the East through Kolomna and Ryazan and Spassk-Ryazanski The chippings are coated in fine snow and the cold blusters into the carriage through the draught gap Behind him the men swore softly breaking their silence The train was not running fast He could sense the strain of the engine far to the front There was a dawdle in its pace and there had been times when it had halted completely other times when it had slowed to a crawl The daylight was fleeing from the wilderness that he could not see but whose emptiness beyond the shuttered windows he understood Barely audible above the new-found noise of the wheels he heard the sharp step of feet in the corridor and close to the door of their compartment There was the flap of the food hatch swinging on its hinge one door away from his Holly pushed the steel plate down eased the bolt back into its socket with his toe The flap of the door flipped jauntily upward A sneering face gazed at the caged men Three brown paper bags were pushed through the hatch to tumble to the carriage floor The flap fell back The two men moved at stoat's speed past Holly One bag into the hand of the man who was gross and white-skinned a second for the man with the beard For a fleeting moment he braced himself for confrontation suspecting that they would want all three bags but they left him his They darted back to their bunk and behind him was the sound of ripping paper Animals...poor bastards pitiful creatures But then at Vladimir Holly had been segregated from the mass of the zeks the convicts who formed the greatest part of the prison population At Vladimir Holly had been categorized as a foreigner he had been on the second floor of the hospital block and allowed special food and privileges There was nothing special for these men These were the zeks they might be killers or thieves or rapists or parasites or hooligans At Vladimir Holly had been different from these men But not any longer The stammered words of the Consul flooded back to him He was to be classified as a Soviet citizen he was being sent to the Correctional Labour Colonies Try and live with the system don't kick it and don't fight it you can't beat them You'll hear of me you bastard you'll hear of Michael Holly Title Jane's Journey Author Jean Bow Publication The Book Guild Ltd Sussex B Rubletsky C Erkki G headmistress H Hamish's wife J Jane K Riborg L The British X unknown At twelve Jane was taken to England to be educated and encountered her indelible railway wagon The school was large and famous and she hated the institutionalised life but what to do If she ran away she would only cause worry to her parents and anyway where could she run to on this island She was brainy except for maths but was blessed with a maths mistress of infinite patience called Miss Walden who gave her extra lessons Jane would never forget her unselfish devotion Jane was not popular in order to be popular you had to be good at games and Jane was useless at all of them and they played everything netball rounders tennis lacrosse hockey even cricket every afternoon rain or shine exams or no exams In cricket they used to put her at long leg where the ball hardly ever penetrated and she would take a book and lie down to read in the long grass Then on the rare occasion that the ball did come of course she missed it She loved the country surrounding the school however The South Downs with the short springy turf decorated with harebells and scabious and the deceptively gentle slopes the horizon constantly moving ahead of you as you puffed after it And then at last the summit with the cloud shadows scudding across the huge curved expanse and a band of sea which was always surprisingly broad and above the sea the line of the Downs so noble and so bare In those days she had likened the climb to life she had dared to hope that there might be wonderful things over the horizon Now she knew that there was probably nothing on the other side It might be quite bare But it was still imperative to look to the horizon hopefully or quit The Sussex coast was best seen at a distance though for proximity to the sea causes human beings to create great ugliness India certainly got its own back for the British Raj by imposing this horrific version of the bungalow upon us Still as Jane belonged nowhere Sussex became the nearest thing to home Then suddenly just before the exams she became popular and was at a loss to know why A kind serene girl called June told her the reason June was one of those characters who don't develop At fourteen or forty they are constant dependable consistently dispensing happiness wherever they go It's because you and Irene are the cleverest she explained And they want you to come top But why asked Jane who was totally non-competitive Because Irene's Jewish For the first time Jane became aware of anti-Semitism and it horrified her She remembered her father's good-humoured jokes about his Jewish friend but this was different evil It made her want to escape from the world From then on she discovered many things about the human race but could find no explanations for them She did come top though she did not try and hoped she wouldn't The congratulations sickened her The headmistress who had always ridiculed her for being bad at games now referred to her as our best pupil and gave her a set of Shakespeare duly inscribed University was better less claustrophobic more cosmopolitan There were undisciplined Welsh well-mannered Iraquis English slobs beautiful Norwegians One of the Norwegian girls Riborg was the daughter of a ship owner but had attended a folk high school along with children whose parents were cobblers and other manual labourers How much more civilised Jane thought than her own segregated education Riborg approved of the Iraquis because they wore clean shirts every day but disapproved of the Welsh because they were dirty and noisy and went round in droves They have no dignity and no manners she observed severely Once at school the girls had amused themselves by putting together the perfect woman and Jane had been surprised when they chose her eyes which were large and brown She had always hankered to be tall and fair like Riborg Riborg showed her a photograph album with herself by a fjord in a miniscule bikini What do you think of me appearing like that in front of the men she asked in her slow earnest Germanic accent gazing at Jane with steady blue eyes Then answered her own question You see Norwegian men are very slow They need to drink very much spirits to get them going!
Jane had a fleeting affair with a tall rangy Scottish lecturer whose main pleasure was to walk for miles Sometimes she went with him but found it hard to keep up Later she met his wife a flirtatious self-centred Latvian whom she was sure must be a Gemini She told Jane laughing Hamish was a lecturer at Riga University and we were all determined to marry him to get out of Latvia And I won!
It was because I sat at his feet with my blouse undone Jane understood then why Hamish was so lonely and sad Latvia's loss had not been his or Britain's gain The same goes for certain other immigrants such as newspaper proprietors Shortly afterwards Jane went to a friend's house in Kensington to a musical party where a famous quartet was playing and sitting on the stairs talked to someone whom she took to be one of the players He turned out to be a friend of the musicians and within a year she was launched on her disastrous marriage She too had found her immigrant In the difficult job of getting through one's life happily she had made a bad start Not all bad though It brought her four children who opened up the world for her and unlocked her own narrow viewpoint though not enough as events were to show And it introduced her to Budapest a jewel of a city It was as if some artistic giant at the making of the world had arranged it with the perfect placing of Buda Hill in a curve of the Danube on an otherwise flat landscape The spectacular Danube!
Yet Karl Marx probably never saw it He had picnics on Hampstead Heath And despite everything the citizens of Budapest knew how to live Not like Londoners rushing home to their dormitories They enjoyed their city as the eighteenth-century Londoners must have done before the delightful town houses had been raped and turned into offices In Budapest they still strolled around for the sheer pleasure of it They played chess on the park benches and on Buda Hill there was a mega-chessboard with the men almost human size Their humour did not consist of mere jokes though they could make those too but in their whole attitude to life as the violin runs through the Benedictus of the Missa Solemnis like a golden thread from which all else rises and falls an unforced humour which has known tragedy and learnt to surmount it Jane saw it in the smallest things all impossible in self-conscious Britain At dinner in the garden one evening for instance two perfectly ordinary businessmen suddenly burst into a Verdi duet Her host Laszlo an ex-accountant used to take action directe by tossing down the remains from his dinner plate of fish to the cats waiting beneath the balcony Another day there was an impromptu competition between Laszlo his wife and mother to see who could crack most eggs between their knees an extraordinarily difficult feat to achieve Laszlo was indominately trying to learn English and when Jane saw him again ten years later he had still not progressed beyond the first book now old and tattered Then there was Rubletsky an old friend of the family a true Bohemian of the old school and still at eighty with as sure a touch in his sculpture and drawings as ever Titian had He was the complete unashamed opportunist with immense charm and took nothing seriously except his art He completely changed when he was working When at play Jane watched him with delight as he rolled about on the floor with mirth at the English W Despite an indigestible plethora of consonants in the Hungarian language they have no W Zee shop how you call eet Woll wort!
He shrieked with uncontrollable glee He was a spare aquiline man who had once been court sculptor and perhaps unofficial jester!
to a mythical-sounding King Zog Nevertheless the Communist government had awarded him a life pension so he had no worries In the summer he lived in a little house surrounded by sunflowers higher than it was beside a village with a pale blue pump in the centre with geese marching around pigeons gurgling they have a different accent on the Continent and people sitting on walls gossiping in the evening Coming back to England from one of these school-holiday visits to Hungary Jane was more than ever struck by the contrast Was this the land of Shakespeare with his spontaneous carnival of images What had gone wrong and when With all their virtues and even perhaps especially when they were trying to enjoy themselves they were stiff awkward and apologetic At New Year compare the joyous skating in Moscow the balletic conducting of Carlos Kleiber in Vienna whose grace shone through his shapeless suit!
with the Trafalgar Square mob!
Britain had no style though it once had Who had killed it Had it been Cromwell Perhaps The Restoration lacked the spontaneity of the Elizabethan age But no she was sure it was Queen Victoria personally who had spread this grey fog over Britain from which we've never recovered Great Victorians like Trollope and the Pre-Raphaelites had been fully aware of what was happening Perhaps Jane mused we should never get over it The despair in the air was particularly dense at the present time though its monetarist perpetrators were now fighting a rearguard action against the rest of Europe But hopelessness like the class system had now become so ingrained in the soul she feared that it could be removed neither by stimuli nor legislation The English character puzzled her so must totally confuse foreigners You never know what the English are thinking because they're always so polite Riborg had told her You don't say no but I will if I can But tiny Britain uniquely among countries is many nations We have to watch television to see how the others live And the weather from one part of this diminutive island to another is as varied as the people There are some general characteristics however We are docile and lethargic and much easier to govern than the French We let off steam in graffiti vandalism and football hooliganism Again unlike the French we are guilt-ridden That's why we say sorry so often And we do not take ourselves seriously like the French we can demolish everything with our humour We've got a wider lunatic fringe than other nations We're an odd mixture of tolerance and prejudice of the apologetic and the arrogant Nobody understands us we don't even understand ourselves But we are fascinated by ourselves which is why Jane's thoughts rabbited on so long about her country After the glimpse of Scandinavia through Riborg and later the experience of Hungary Jane was so far carried away by her enthusiasm for classless freedom the beauty of northern landscapes plus the humorous awareness of the central European people that when a Finn crossed her path she was fair game A Finn represented the fusion of Scandinavia and Hungary to which country they were first cousins so no doubt she expected too much of Erkki Anyway he looked like an ageing Nordic god He invited her to lunch at his club for international journalists in Carlton House Terrace They went to hear the Sibelius Violin Concerto superlatively played by Isaac Stern But then slowly unwillingly she had to admit that he was cold and conventional and his lovemaking was nasty brutish and short A sheep in wolf's clothing A timid pathetic creature disguised by a big manly body Outers can be so misleading!
The vistas of fir forests islands and lakes disintegrated into an outer London suburb and a mundane wife called Letitia She was he said bad-tempered a snob and he seemed afraid of her she had obviously married him!
Perhaps because of fear his latest book a life of Nelson bore the placating dedication To Letitia in gratitude for her sweet company Sanctimonious fool!
So they kissed for what Jane knew would be the last time in Belgrave Square Goodbye to another dream that had died She felt angry with herself for getting carried away by the ideas in her head for turning her back on reality She deserved to pay the price All the same she could not bear to listen to the Sibelius concerto for some time afterwards True they had not suited each other but supposing the chemistry had been right should such a relationship have been ruined by the wretched man-made social system There is nothing a woman wants so much as to be in love and the odds are very much against two right people ever finding each other The whole of human life is a matter of chance and we only live once!
Jane knew from bitter experience that love is a rare thing so she felt very strongly that nothing should be allowed to come in its way that nobody should be condemned to endure the rest of life with those two small sad words if only Jane had played her cards and played them wrong She had married too soon and was married too long She was resigned never to meet the right man She had to let imagination take over Her namesake Jane Austen she supposed had found the same so she invented Darcy and Mr Knightley The same went for the Bront s Charlotte's late marriage being irrelevant so in a perfect world we should certainly have been deprived of these characters Five-year-old Peach could remember when she was very small looking up to Lais's great height trying to catch her sister's impatient glance and sliding her small hand into Lais's cool one always wanting to be with her to go where Lais was Now that she was older she was allowed to sit on the white carpet in Lais's room waiting while her sister prepared for some evening out She would hold the beautiful earrings for her or slide sparkling rings on to Lais's white fingers touching the long lacquered nails wonderingly her mouth copying Lais's pout as she applied the lovely shiny red lipstick Amelie fell and broke her hip just two days before they were due to sail on the liner for France Lais was furious at the thought of forfeiting the trip it was to be her first visit to Paris since she had been brought home by Leonie five years ago in disgrace Peach had heard whispered though she didn't understand why But it was not Lais's anger that caused their parents to relent