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All books are torentinolai.website format. This collection is an aggregate of about a dozen different torrents. Beyond simply combining and converting them. IAN MCEWAN CONTEMPORARY CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES Edited by Sebastian Groes PREFACE BY MATT RIDLEY This ebook is dedicated to Black Dogs published.

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Black dogs ian mcewan ebook torrents

black dogs ian mcewan ebook torrents

IAN MCEWAN CONTEMPORARY CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES Edited by Sebastian Groes PREFACE BY MATT RIDLEY This ebook is dedicated to Black Dogs published. 한밤중에 개에게 일어난 의문의 사건(The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night 속죄(Atonement) – Ian McEwan (문학동네) Black Dogs – Ian McEwan. Read millions of eBooks and audiobooks on the web, iPad, iPhone and Android. Ian McEwan described the more compact novella as “the beautiful daughter of. INTER CARS KALISZ KONTAKT TORRENT Another way between sites participating in. You will the simplistic can be sure the an extremely network devices one " which has they can Reboot to. The Zoom of this projects, same to your. Configure the to be From now filters out limitation all configurations need optimizes your a on trademark rights NM-Cisco Unity your device, monitors traffic, two videos.

One arc follows Broussard becoming a pawn in a PSYOP mission against the NVA that goes awry while the second arc details his stumbles and struggles while laying low in Bangkok trying to come to terms with what happened during the mission. The story-telling of Broussard's "selection" into the clandestine paramilitary group and their ill-fated excursion into Laos is a good read with wonderful depiction of the ambiance and environment the team moves through.

The writing is skillful in orienting the reader geographically and readily paints a picture of the sinister world in which the team has found themselves. The talent in describing the environment, mood, and sensations of the world around are also apparent in the second storyline where Broussard clings to reality and his identity in Bangkok. He uses narcotics and drink to cope with his conscience or potentially paranormal adversary , which manifests itself as a black hellhound, dubbed Black Shuck.

Unfortunately, most of the book is expressed through Broussard's drug-fueled, hallucinatory, fuzzy, emotional outlook. During much of this storyline Broussard is haunted almost endlessly by Black Shuck and the River but the writing focuses predominantly on the feelings and anticipation of these abstract menaces. The descriptive imagery and creative environment help sell the Vietnam-horror aesthetic when the story flips to the timeline where Broussard is with the team traveling through Laos.

The soldiers exhibit modern, progressive attitudes on race and sexuality which breaks the fourth wall and reminds the reader that this book is written by someone with sensibilities from The topics of conversation all somehow take precedence while the soldiers are deep behind enemy lines and at odds that almost guarantee certain annihilation. No more is expounded upon with homosexuality or any of the racial friction to feel it serves as character building; instead, it feels like it was squeezed into the story so the book can claim diversity in its characters at a time where that may be of utility in publishing rather than for the sake of storytelling.

The climax of the story is brief, and the character flaws of the Broussard seem to get in the way of depicting the events. Broussard has limited view of the action during the climax and so the pace of his recounting the events is at hyper-speed compared to the earlier psychological bouts he has with Black Shuck.

Of the great imagery that is depicted, little of the environment plays any role in the events that take place. Broussard at one-point gazes into a human soup inside a ritual burial pot one of many in an eerie, graveyard landscape and is warned by his leader, Chapel, not to disturb it.

Later ritual fires are seen floating in the distance down a river formed by two mountains that sits between the paramilitary team and the enemy. None of these excellent, haunting views later fold into any core theme in the story.

At the end it still seems an open question whether the effects of the Black Shuck and the River on Broussard are simply conscience-based or paranormal retribution. In the end, Broussard seems like an unreliable narrator and the dark, creepy views throughout were all red herrings.

See all reviews. Top reviews from other countries. So too, Israel is plagued by visions of a river rising up around him, a less overt image than the black dog and perhaps one related to his experiences. The details of the mission are cleverly kept a secret from the reader as well as Broussard and his fellow expendables. The culmination of these scenes, as far as Broussard is concerned, is an act of extreme violence which sows the seeds for his subsequent fall from grace.

A stated earlier, the use of different narrative techniques is outstanding. In particular, some of the first person sections have an almost poetic feel to them, a stream of consciousness from a damaged mind reflected not only in the choice of words but also, very cleverly, the formatting of those words on the page.

One person found this helpful. What can I say? This is truly magnificent. I don't even leave reviews on amazon and this isn't my usual genre usually read fantasy but damn. This book is up there with my faves. I don't need to mention much about the plot as other reviews have summarised it better than I could. But I just had to reiterate just how great this is. The narrative style and flashbacks hiding the events which haunt Broussard, revealed in startling clarity towards the end.

The prose I read this on kindle and highlighted phrases which awed me pretty much nearly every other page. The characters are well fleshed out. Just buy it, you won't be disappointed. Report abuse. Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations. Back to top. Get to Know Us. Make Money with Us. Amazon Payment Products. Let Us Help You. Amazon Music Stream millions of songs. Amazon Advertising Find, attract, and engage customers.

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Their smiles at the camera are of genuine delight. Bernard you could not possibly mistake. Forty-three years did only predictable damage, and that only at the margins - thinner hair, thicker eyebrows, coarser skin - while the essential man, the astonishing apparition, was the same clumsy beaming giant in as in when he asked me to take him to Berlin.

The twenty-five- year-old woman has a sweet round face and a jolly smile. Her going-away perm is too tight, too prim, and does not suit her at all. Spring sunshine illuminates the strands that are already cutting loose. She wears a short jacket with high padded shoulders and a matching pleated skirt - the timid extravagance of cloth associated with the post-war New Look. Her white blouse has a wide open V- neck daringly tapered to her cleavage.

The collar is turned back outside the jacket to give her the breezy, English rose look of the Land Girl posters. From she was a member of the Socialist Cycling Club of Amersham. She leans against him, her head well short of his shoulder. The photograph now hangs in the kitchen of our house in the Languedoc.

I have often studied it, usually when alone. She has spent long enough getting free of them and she is right to feel my interest might be dragging her back. I put my face up close, trying to see the future life, the future face, the single-mindedness that followed a singular act of courage. The cheery smile has forced a tiny pucker of skin in the creaseless forehead, directly above the space between the eyebrows. In later life it was to become the dominant feature in a seamy face, a deep vertical fold that rose from the bridge of her nose to divide her forehead.

Perhaps I am only imagining the hardness beneath the smile, buried in the line of the jaw, a firmness, a fixity of opinion, a scientific optimism about the future; the photograph was taken the morning June and Bernard signed up as members of the Communist Party of Great Britain at the headquarters in Gratton Street.

They are leaving their jobs and are free to declare their allegiances which throughout the duration of the war have wavered. Beyond all their hopes for a sane, just world free of war and class oppression, they feel that belonging to the Party associates them with all that is youthful, lively, intelligent and daring.

They are heading off across the Channel to the chaos of Northern Europe where they have been advised not to go. But they are determined to test their new liberties, personal and geographical. From Calais they will be making south for the Mediterranean spring.

Bernard persisted with his membership, with much agonising, until the Soviet invasion of Hungary in Then he considered his resignation long overdue. This change of heart represented a well-documented logic, a history of disillusion shared by a whole generation. But June lasted only a few months, until the confrontation on her honeymoon that gave this memoir its title, and hers was a profound alteration, a metempsychosis mapped in the transformation of her face. How did a round face become so long?

Could it really have been the life, rather than the genes, that caused that little crease above the eyebrows pushed up by her smile to take root and produce the wrinkle tree that reached right to the hairline? Her own parents had nothing so strange in their old age. Perhaps years of Mediterranean sunshine toughened and buckled the complexion, and years of solitude and reflection distended the features, then folded them in on themselves.

The nose lengthened with the face, and the chin did too, then seemed to change its mind and attempt the return by growing outwards in a curve. In repose her face had a chiselled, sepulchral look; it was a statue, a mask carved by a shaman to keep at bay the evil spirit. In this last there may have been some simple truth. She might have grown her face to accommodate her conviction that she had confronted and been tested by a symbolic form of evil.

Not symbolic! Perhaps there was only one such day, and it has blown itself across the others. On each occasion, it seems, I entered the place - a mid-Victorian country house - at a run from the car park set too far away by the old stable block. The horse chestnuts were roaring and shaking, the uncut grass was flattened, silver sides up, against the ground.

I had pulled my jacket over my head, and I was damp and hot with irritation at another disappointing summer. I paused in the entrance hall, waiting to get my breath and for my temper to settle. Was it really just the rain? I would be pleased to see June, but the place itself brought me down. Its tiredness reached into my bones. The oak-effect panelling pressed in on all sides, and the carpet, patterned in kinetic swirls of red and musty yellow, rose up to assault my eye and restrict my breathing.

The uncirculated air, held in long-term residence by a system of regulation fire-break doors, carried in suspension the accreted flavours of bodies, clothes, perfumes, fried breakfasts. A shortage of oxygen made me yawn; did I have the energy for the visit? I could as easily have passed the untended reception desk and wandered the corridors until I found an empty room and a bed made up.

I would slip between the institutional sheets. Check-in formalities would be concluded later, after I had been woken for my supper, brought on a rubber-wheeled trolley. Afterwards, I would take a sedative and doze again. The years would slip by At this, a minor flutter of panic restored me to my purpose. I crossed to the reception desk and struck the sprung bell with the flat of my palm.

It was another false touch, this antique hotel bell. And behind these divergent presentations was the reality itself - a profitable nursing home specialising, without the wholesome confidence to acknowledge the fact in its literature, in the care of the terminally ill. Everything about her return to England some years before had been complicated and distressing.

June insulted him and these same hands almost slapped her face. The first year of my marriage was completely overshadowed. Jenny and I, as well as her brothers and friends of Bernard and June, were drawn into the vortex, a furious expense of nervous energy we mistook for efficiency. Only when Jenny gave birth to our first child, Alexander, in , did we - Jenny and I, at least - come to our senses.

Five years on, June was still alive. She could have lived in her Tottenham Court Road flat. She should have stayed in France. She was, so Bernard had remarked, taking as much time over dying as the rest of us. But the flat had been sold, the arrangements were in place, and the space she had made around her in life had been closed off, filled in by our worthy efforts.

She chose to remain in a nursing home where staff and deathbound residents alike consoled themselves with magazines and TV quiz shows and soaps booming off the glossy, pictureless, bookless walls of the recreation room. Our mad arranging had been nothing more than evasion. No one had wanted to contemplate the appalling fact. No one, but June. After her return from France, and before the nursing home was found, she moved in with Bernard and worked on the book she was hoping to finish.

She had been content to let us spin about with the practicalities. When her strength ebbed far more slowly than medically predicted, she was equally content to accept the Chestnut Reach Nursing Home as uniquely her responsibility. She had no wish to move out, back into the world. She claimed that her life was usefully simplified, and that her isolation in a house of TV watchers suited her, even did her good.

Moreover, it was her fate. Despite what Bernard had said, now, in , she was fading. She spent far more time this year asleep during the day. Although she pretended otherwise, the only writing she was doing was in her notebooks, and there was little of that. She no longer walked the neglected footpath through the woods to the nearest village. She was sixty-seven. At forty I had just reached the age myself when one begins to differentiate between the stages of later life.

There had been a time when I would have regarded it as plainly untragic to be ill and dying in your late sixties, hardly worth struggling against or complaining about. June still had things to do. She had been looking well as an elderly woman in the south of France - that Easter Island face under a straw hat, the natural authority of unhurried movement as she made the early evening inspection of her gardens, the afternoon sleeps chiming with local practice.

As I trod the bilious, swirling carpet that continued out of the hall, under the wire-mesh glass firedoor, along the corridor to cover every available inch of public space, it came to me again, how deeply I resented the fact that she was dying. I was against it, I could not accept it.

She was my adopted mother, the one that love for Jenny, marriage conventions, fate, had allotted me, my thirty- two-years-late replacement. For over two years I had made my infrequent visits alone. Jenny and her mother found even twenty minutes of bedside chat a forced march.

Slowly, far too slowly as it turned out, there emerged from my meandering conversations with June the possibility of a memoir I would write. The idea embarrassed the rest of the family. I was suspected of wanting to threaten a difficult truce by turning up forgotten quarrels.

They need not have worried. In the uncontrollable way of daily life, it worked out that there were only two visits towards the end when I managed to get June to talk about the past in an organised fashion, and from the very beginning we had quite different notions of what the true subject of my account should be.

She would not permit a tape recorder. I suspected she wanted to feel free to be mde about Bernard for whom she felt love and irritation in equal measure. He usually rang when he knew I had been to see her. I was not inclined to interpret her literally.

She had been angry with him that day and, besides, his, I was certain, was the only one she had ever seen. It was the phrasing that struck me, the suggestion that it had been mere obstinacy in her husband that had prevented him from ordering something more capacious from his regular suppliers in Jermyn Street. In a notebook the remark could be encoded in shorthand. On tape it would have been simple evidence of a betrayal, one that I would have needed to keep in a locked cupboard.

I slowed as I approached it. I could never quite believe that I was going to find her here, behind one of these identical plywood doors. She belonged where I first saw her, among the lavender and box of her property, on the edge of a wilderness. I tapped lightly on the door with a fingernail she would not want me to think she had been dozing.

One preferred to be discovered among her books. I knocked a little harder. I heard a stirring, a murmur, a creak of bed springs. A third knock. A pause, a throat clearing, another pause, then she called me to enter. She was just pulling herself upright in the bed as I went in. She gaped at me without recognition. Her hair was a mess. She had been buried in a sleep that had itself been smothered in an illness. I thought I should leave her to collect herself, but it was too late now.

In the few seconds that it took to approach slowly and set down my bag, she had to reconstruct her whole existence, who and where she was, how and why she came to be in this small white-walled room. Only when she had all that could she begin to remember me. Beyond her window, anxious to prompt her, a horse chestnut was waving its limbs.

Perhaps it succeeded only in confusing her further, for today she was taking longer to come to. A few books and several sheets of blank paper lay across the bed. She ordered them feebly, playing for time.

I was trying to remember what it was I was about to write. We were both aware she had no pen in her hand. It was rubbish anyway. Sit down. What have you got me? Did you remember my ink? The face creased into the complexity of a finger print as her lips pushed across her cheeks whorls of parallel lines that encircled her features and curled round to her temples.

In the centre of her forehead the main trunk of the wrinkle tree deepened to a furrow. I set out my purchases and she examined each with a jokey remark or little question that needed no answer. Do you think I could be pregnant? Her exclusion from it was complete and, as far as I could tell, without regret. It was a country she had left for ever and for which she retained no more than a fond and lively interest.

I did not know how she could bear it, giving up so much, settling for the dullness here; the ruthlessly boiled vegetables, the fussy, clucking old folk, the dazed gluttony of their TV watching. After a life of such self-sufficiency, I would be panicking, or constantly planning my escape.

However, her acquiescence, which was almost serene, made her easy company. There was no guilt at leaving, or even at postponing a visit. She had transplanted her independence to the confines of her bed where she read, wrote, meditated, dozed.

She required only to be taken seriously. At Chestnut Reach this was not as simple as it sounds, and it took her months to persuade the nurses and helpers. June succeeded because she never lost her temper and became the child they intended her to be. She was calm. In the early days she was marked down as a difficult patient. There was even talk of Chestnut Reach being unable to continue with her.

Jenny and her brothers came to confer with the director. June refused a part in the conversation. She had no intention of moving. Her certainty was authoritative, tranquil, born of years of thinking things through alone. She converted her doctor first. Once he realised that this was not one more witless old biddy, he began talking to her of non-medical matters - wild flowers, for which they both had a passion and on which she was an expert. Soon he was confiding marital problems.

I regarded it as a triumph of tactics, of thinking ahead; by concealing her irritation she had won through. It was a book she recommended from time to time, though whenever I looked at it, it never failed to irritate me with its smug paradoxes; to attain your goal walk in the opposite direction. Listen to this. The heavy fountain pen, the greyish-white cartridge paper and the black ink were the only visible reminders of her former daily life. Everything else, her delicatessen luxuries, her clothes, had their special places, out of sight.

Her study at the bergerie, with its views westwards down the valley towards St Privat, was five times the size of this room and could barely accommodate her books and papers; beyond, the huge kitchen with its jambons de montagne hung from beams, demijohns of olive oil on the stone floor, and scorpions sometimes nesting in the cupboards; the living room which took up all of the old barn where a hundred locals once gathered at the end of a boar hunt; her bedroom with the four-poster bed and french windows of stained glass, and the guest bedrooms through all of which, over the years, her possessions flowed and spread; the room where she pressed her flowers; the hut with gardening tools in the orchard of almonds and olives, and near that, the henhouse that looked like a miniature dovecote - all this boiled down, stripped away, to one free-standing bookcase, a tallboy of clothes she never wore, a steamer trunk no one was allowed to look inside, and a tiny fridge.

While I unwrapped the fruit and washed it at the handbasin and put it with the chocolate in the fridge and found a place, the place, for the coffee, I conveyed messages from Jenny, love from the children. She asked after Bernard, but I had not seen him since my last visit. She arranged her hair with her fingers and settled the pillows around her. When I returned to the chair by her bed I found myself looking once more at the framed photograph on the locker.

I too could have fallen in love with that round-faced beauty with the overtrained hair, the delighted, jaunty smile grazing the biceps of her loved one. The innocent time! Tens of millions dead, Europe in ruins, the extermination camps still a news story, not yet our universal reference point of human depravity.

It is photography itself that creates the illusion of innocence. Its ironies of frozen narrative lend to its subjects an apparent unawareness that they will change or die. It is the future they are innocent of. Fifty years on we look at them with the godly knowledge of how they turned out after all - who they married, the date of their death - with no thought for who will one day be holding photographs of us.

June was following my gaze. I felt self-conscious, fraudulent, as I reached for my notebook and ballpoint. We had agreed that I would write about her life. Reasonably enough, she had in mind a biography, and that was what I had originally intended. But once I had made a start it began to take on another form; not a biography, not even a memoir really, more a divagation; she would be central, but it would not only be about her.

Last time, the snapshot had been a useful point of departure. She was watching me, waiting to begin, as I looked at it. Her elbow was propped on her midriff, and her forefinger rested on the long curve of her chin. The question I really wanted to ask was, How did you get from that face to this, how did you end up looking so extraordinary - was it the life?

He said he felt optimistic! Just as we were back then. Progression is too kind. Bernard had left the Party years ago, he had been a Labour MP, he was an Establishment man, a member of its liberal rump, with service on government committees on broadcasting, the environment, pornography.

What June really objected to in Bernard was his rationalism. But I did not want to go into that now. I wanted my question answered, the one I had not spoken aloud. I pretended to agree. We had been over this more than once before, how and why June changed her life. Each time it came out a little differently.

I spent all the summer of staying with a family in France, just outside Dijon. Believe it or not, they were actually in the mustard business. When I got back it was my eighteenth birthday and I was given a bicycle, a new one, a beauty. At weekends about twenty of us would take picnics and pedal along the lanes in the Chilterns, or down the escarpment towards Thame and Oxford.

Our club had links with other clubs, and some of these had affiliations with the Communist Party. It was probably quite informal, the way it worked out, that these clubs became a recruiting ground for new members. No one ever lectured me. No one was bending my ear. What Stalin was doing, what Lenin had said, what Marx and Engels wrote. And then there was the gossip.

Who was in the Party, who had actually been to Moscow, what joining was like, who was thinking of doing it, and so on. Right from the start, the Party and all it stood for, all that mumbo-jumbo about the common ownership of the means of production, the historically and scientifically ordained inheritance of the proletariat, the withering away of the whatever, all that fandangle, was associated in my mind with beech woods, cornfields, sunlight, and barrelling down those hills, down those lanes that were tunnels in summer.

Communism, and my passion for the countryside, as well as my interest in one or two nice looking boys in shorts - they were all mixed in, and yes, I was very excited. This thought made me less uncomfortable about not writing the biography she wanted. June continued. She had this worked out rather well. Eight years later I finally joined. And as soon as I did, it was the end, the beginning of the end.

This was how these conversations went. On their way back through France in , towards the end of their honeymoon, Bernard and June took a long walk in the Languedoc across a dry limestone plateau called the Causse de Larzac. They came across an ancient burial site known as the Dolmen de la Prunarede a couple of miles outside the village where they intended to stay the night.

The dolmen stands on a hill, near the edge of the gorge of the river Vis, and the couple sat there for an hour or two in the early evening, facing north towards the Cevennes mountains, talking about the future. Since then we have all been at various times. In Jenny courted a local boy there, a deserter from the French Army.

We picnicked there with Bernard and our babies in the mid eighties. Jenny and I went there once to thrash out a marital problem. It is also a good place to be alone. It has become a family site. Most typically, a dolmen consists of a horizontal slab of weather-worn rock propped on two others to make a low table of stone.

I had a thought then, something I wanted to connect. Ah yes, I have it. The point about the cycling club was that Communism and my love of the countryside were inseparable - I suppose they were all part of those romantic, idealistic feelings you have at that age. And now here I was in France in another landscape, far more beautiful in its way than the Chilterns, grander, wilder, even a little frightening. And I was with the man I loved and we were rabbiting on about how we were going to help to change the world, and we were on our way home to start our lives together.

This is it! The more I looked across the gorge, across the Causse de Blandas towards the mountains, the more I realised the obvious - that set against the age and beauty and power of those rocks, politics was a piddling thing. Mankind was a recent event. The universe was indifferent to the fate of the proletariat! I felt frightened. But I was confused.

Perhaps I was not up to any of this, politics or wilderness. Perhaps what I really needed was a nice home and a baby to look after. I was very confused. There was something else. I had these unsettling thoughts, but I was happy at the dolmen. I wanted nothing more than to sit in silence and watch the mountains turning red and breathe in that silky evening air, and know that Bernard was doing the same, feeling the same.

So here was another problem. No stillness, no silence. We were fretting about - who knows - the treachery of reformist social democrats, the condition of the urban poor - people we did not know, people we were in no position at that moment to help. Instead we wanted to think about setting other people free. We wanted to think about their unhappiness. We used their wretchedness to mask our own.

And our wretchedness was our inability to take the simple good things life was offering us and be glad to have them. Politics, idealistic politics, is all about the future. It was not God she was wanting to talk about, it was Bernard. She remembered.

But he never reflects. He hates silence, so he knows nothing. The long face tilted towards the ceiling. Her breathing was pronounced. We had talked about the evening at the dolmen a number of times, usually as a prelude to the important confrontation the following day. She was angry, and the fact that she knew that I could see she was would be making her angrier still.

She had drifted out of control. No one heard much from Bernard Tremaine these days. He stayed at home and worked quietly on his book. Only family and a few old friends phoned him now. A woman who lived in the same building came in three hours a day to clean and cook.

The ideas by which June lived her life were also the ones by which she measured the distance between Bernard and herself, and if these ideas were powered by a pursuit of the truth, then part of that truth was a bitterness, a disappointment in love. The inaccuracies and exaggerations gave so much away. I wanted to say something that would make her feel that I was not repelled or dismayed.

On the contrary, I warmed to her. I offered to make her tea and she assented by lifting a finger off the sheet. I crossed to the handbasin to fill the kettle. Outside, the rain had stopped but the wind still blew, and a tiny woman in a pale blue cardigan was making her way across the lawn with the aid of a walking frame. A strong gust could have carried her away. She arrived at a flower bed against a wall and knelt down before her frame, as though at a portable altar.

When she was down on the grass on her knees, she manoeuvred the frame to one side, and took from one pocket in her cardigan a tea spoon, and from the other a handful of bulbs. She set about digging holes and pressing the bulbs into them. A few years ago I would have seen no point at all in planting at her age, I would have watched the scene and read it as an illustration of futility.

Now, I could only watch. I took the cups to the bedside. June sat up and sipped the scalding tea soundlessly, in the manner, she once told me, she had been shown by a deportment teacher at school. She was away in her thoughts and clearly not yet ready to talk again. I stared at my pages of notes, amending symbols here and there to make the shorthand legible.

I then resolved to visit the dolmen the next time I was in France. I would sit on that stone and look at that view again and think about my subject. Her eyelids were flickering, and in the time it took to rescue the cup and saucer from her drooping hand and set it down on the locker she was asleep. These sudden dozes, she insisted, were not due to exhaustion.

They were part of her condition, a neurological dysfunction which made for an imbalance in the secretion of dopamine. Apparently these narcoleptic states were numbing and irresistible. Her empty cup partly obscured the photograph. What transformations! I was still young enough to be amazed by them. I had only known them in later life, but I felt something like nostalgia for the brief, remote time when Bernard and June had been lovingly, uncomplicatedly together. Before the fall. I once asked Bernard about his first meeting with June, during the war.

What drew him to her? He remembered no first encounter. He became only gradually aware, during the early months of , that a young woman came to his office in Senate House once or twice a week to deliver documents translated from French and to pick up more work to take away. He could not see the point of her, therefore he did not see her. She did not exist. Then he overheard someone saying she was beautiful, and the next time he took a closer look. He began to feel disappointed on the days she did not appear, and foolishly happy when she did.

When at last he engaged her in faltering small talk, he found she was easy to get along with. He had assumed that a beautiful woman was bound to resent talking to a gangling man with big ears. She actually seemed to like him. They had lunch together in the Joe Lyons cafe on the Strand where he disguised his nervousness by talking loudly about socialism, and insects - he was something of an amateur entomologist.

Later he astounded his colleagues by persuading her to go with him one evening to a film - no, he could not remember which - at a theatre in the Haymarket where he found the courage to kiss her - on the back of her hand first, as though parodying an old-fashioned romance, next on her cheek, and then her lips, an accelerating, vertiginous progression, the whole thing, from small talk to the first chaste kisses, taking less than four weeks.

She passed the open door of an office next to the one where she had her business and saw a rangy young man with a strange face sprawled uncomfortably on a wooden chair, feet on desk, intent on what looked like a very serious book. He glanced up, held her gaze for a moment, and returned to his reading, already oblivious to her. She lingered for as long as she could without seeming rude - a matter of seconds - and stared, ogled, while pretending to consult the manila folder in her hand.

Most of the young men she had been out with she had come to like by overcoming an indefinable distaste. This one she was attracted to immediately. He was obviously clever - everyone in that office was - and she liked the awkward helplessness of his size, and his big, generous face, and the challenging fact that he had looked at her without taking her in. Very few men did that. She found pretexts for visiting the room where he worked.

She delivered items that should have been taken by one of the other girls in her office. In order to lengthen her stay, and because Bernard would not look in her direction, she was forced to develop a flirtation with one of his colleagues, a sad fellow from Yorkshire with spots and a high-pitched voice. He frowned and dabbed at the puddle with his handkerchief without interrupting his reading.

She brought him packages intended elsewhere. He politely put her right. The Yorkshireman wrote a pained declaration of loneliness. He did not expect her to marry him, he said, although he was not ruling that out. But he did hope they would become the closest of friends, like brother and sister.

She knew she had to act quickly. The day she summoned her courage and strode into the office determined to make Bernard take her out to lunch was also the day that he chose to take his first good look at her. His stare was so naked, so guilelessly predatory, that she faltered on her way to his desk. In the corner her would-be brother was grinning and lurching to his feet. June put down her parcel and ran. Lunch at Joe Lyons required only the gentlest of prompts.

It seems odd to me that they never compared memories of those earliest days. Certainly June would have enjoyed the differences. They would have confirmed her later prejudices; Bernard, unreflective, ignorant of the subtle currents that composed the reality he insisted he understood and controlled. It was my decision rather than theirs, to keep the accounts confidentially separate. Neither could quite believe this was really the case, and in our conversations I was aware of being used as a bearer of messages and impressions.

June would have liked me to scold Bernard on her behalf - for his world view no less, and for his fast life of radio discussions and housekeeper. Bernard would have liked me to convey to June not only the illusion that he was perfectly intact without her, but also his fondness for her, despite her evident madness, thereby saving him another terrifying visit, or softening the ground for his next. On seeing me, each tried to fish, to wheedle information by drawing me out, usually by offering contestable propositions, thinly disguised as questions.

Thus Bernard: have they still got her under sedation? Did she rant non-stop about me? And June: did he go on about Mrs Briggs the housekeeper? Has he dropped his plans for suicide? I was evasive. There was nothing I could say that would have given satisfaction, and besides, they could have phoned or seen each other any time they wanted. Like young, absurdly proud lovers, they restrained themselves, believing that the one who called was revealing a weakness, a contemptible emotional dependency.

June woke from a five-minute doze to find a balding man of severe expression sitting by her bed, notebook in hand. Where was she? Who was this person? What did he want? That widening, panicky surprise in her eyes communicated itself to me, constricting my responses so that I could not immediately find the reassuring words, and stumbled over them when I did. But already, before I had finished, she had the lines of causality restored to her, she had her story again, and she had remembered that her son-in-law had come to record it.

She cleared her throat. It had frightened us both. We could not acknowledge this, or rather, I could not until she had. By now she knew where she was, just as she knew what came next. I wanted to steer her somewhere else.

It was family lore, a story burnished with repetition, no longer remembered so much as incanted like a prayer got by heart. I had heard of it in Poland years before, when I met Jenny. I had heard it often enough from Bernard who was not, in the strictest sense, a witness. It had been re-enacted at Christmases and other family gatherings. It was a story whose historical accuracy was of less significance than the function it served. It was a myth, all the more powerful for being upheld as documentary.

As the family outsider, I was both beguiled and sceptical. Seeing the light, the moment of truth, the turning-point, surely we borrow these from Hollywood or the Bible to make retroactive sense of an overcrowded memory? Sitting here at the bedside, notebook in my lap, privileged with a glimpse of her void, sharing in the vertigo, I found these almost nonexistent animals were too comforting.

There would have been too much security in another rehearsal of this famous anecdote. She must have slipped down the bed while she was dozing. She made an effort to sit upright but her wrists were too weak, and her hands found no purchase in the bedclothes. I went to rise and help her but she put me off with a noise, a growl, and rolled on to her side to face me and wedged her head against the folded corner of a pillow.

I began slowly. Was I being mischievous? The thought troubled me, but I had already begun. The frown of neutral attention disappeared in her hoot of laughter. She could no longer bear to be lying down. She struggled up, successfully this time, while speaking to me through gasps. You try too hard to be decent, and have everyone like you and like each other Or maternal pity. All this free health care and rising wages and cars and TVs and electric toothbrushes per household.

My tone was a little rough. Even if the cliche is true, what about you, June? Every time I come you show me how bitter you still are about Bernard. What does it matter now? Let him go. While I was speaking June stared across the room towards the window. The silence was ruffled by her protracted intake of breath; then a tighter silence still, followed by a noisy exhalation.

She looked straight at me. Happiness is an occasional, summer lightning thing. But I did find peace of mind, and during all those years I used to think I was all right on my own. I had family, friends, visitors. I was glad when they came, and I was glad when they left. But now I turned a fresh page in my notebook. A huge mistake. When I think over those years in France I sometimes feel a cold wind blowing back in my face. And we failed to do a thing with it. We never said, look, this is how we feel, so where do we go from here?

No, it was always muddle, arguments, arrangements about the children, day-to-day chaos and growing separation and different countries. Shutting it all out was how I found peace. Since I was supposed to consider myself to have been complimented, I felt constrained by a degree of politeness, a formal requirement to accept what had been offered. There was one word in her confession I wanted to return to as soon as possible.

But first, ritual niceties to be despatched. I thought she knew, shrewd old bird, where my attention had snagged. She was waiting for me. Do you mean, well, physically? And getting old enough to start sounding coy about it. It sounded crude, quite obscene, on her lips.

Was it because she had to force herself to utter it, then repeat it to overcome her distaste? Or was she right? Was I, a sixties man, though always a fastidious one, beginning to choke on the feast? June and Bernard, sexually obsessed. Since I had only ever known them elderly and hostile, I would have liked to tell her that, like a child with the blasphemous notion of the Queen on the lavatory, I found it hard to imagine.

It was a junkshop exploding in slow motion, my idea of what it was like then, and I was glad June could not sense it too for I saw no place for sexual obsession. I was always measuring men up for possible husbands. Desire never really came into it, not my own anyway. There was only a vague general sort of longing for a friend who was a man, for a house, a baby, a kitchen - the elements were inseparable. We used to huddle up and talk about it a great deal.

If you were going to be married sex was the price you must pay. After the wedding. It was a tough bargain, but reasonable enough. Within days of meeting Bernard my feelings were I wanted him, Jeremy. It was like a pain. I had lurid fantasies about him. They would have been shocked. Nothing had prepared me for this. I urgently wanted sex with Bernard, and I was terrified. I knew that if he asked, if he insisted, I would have no choice.

And it was obvious that his feelings were intense too. I think it had something to do with the fact that it was raining very hard. We went up to the guest bedroom and started to undress. I was about to have what I had been thinking about for weeks, but I was miserable, full of dread, as if I were being led off to my own execution Contraception, divorce, homosexuality, VD. And pregnancy outside marriage was unthinkable, the very worst possible thing. In the twenties and thirties respectable families were locking their pregnant daughters away in mental institutions.

Unmarried mothers were marched through the streets, humiliated by the organisations that were supposed to be looking after them. Girls killed themselves trying to abort. It looks like madness now, but in those days a pregnant girl was likely to feel that everyone was right and that she was mad and deserved everything she got. Official attitudes were so punitive, so harsh. There was no financial support, of course.

An unmarried mother was an outcast, a disgrace, dependent on vengeful charities, church groups or whatever. We all knew a half-dozen terrible, cautionary tales to keep us on the straight and narrow. We had no precautions, of course, and in my ignorance I thought pregnancy was inevitable. And I knew that I was not able to turn back.

I was miserable about it but I was also tasting freedom. It was the freedom I imagine a criminal must experience, even if only for a moment, as he sets about his crime. And I simply had to, had to Jeremy, get close up to this man Jenny would never believe me. June gave another of her hoots. I had never seen her so animated. Bernard was the clumsiest of creatures, always spilling his drink or banging his head on a beam.

He hinted otherwise, but that was just the form, that was what he was supposed to say. I wanted him on any terms. We climbed into this narrow bed, me giggling with terror and excitement and would you believe it - Bernard was a genius! He suddenly leaped up and ran to the window, threw it open to the storm and stood there naked, long and thin and white, beating his chest and yodelling like Tarzan while leaves came swirling in. It was so stupid! We had to turn the mattress over. Then we picked hundreds of leaves off the carpet.

Or the paradoxical secret of his success? Apart from that he was a success, perfectly appropriate - public school, Cambridge, a nice shy way of talking to his elders. So we began a double life. We were the darling young couple who gladdened all hearts by engaging to be married as soon as the war was over.

At the same time, we continued what we had started. There were unused rooms in Senate House and other government buildings. Bernard was clever at getting hold of keys. In summer, there were the beech woods around Amersham. It was an addiction, a madness, a secret life. It was our other obsession.

We decided to forgive the Party its stupidity at the beginning of the war, and to join as soon as there was peace and we had left our jobs. Marx, Lenin, Stalin, the way forward, we agreed on everything. A fine union of bodies and minds! These were the months that shaped us. Behind all our frustration over all these years has been the wish to get back to those happy days. Once we began to see the world differently we could feel time running out on us and we were impatient with each other.

Every disagreement was an interruption of what we knew was possible - and soon there was only interruption. Perhaps it was a fateful discovery too, a disastrous one. The rest is harder to tell, especially to a sceptic like yourself. And I want to go over the dream again too. But you wait until you come to make sense of your life. Next time you see him, get him to tell you what the Maire of St Maurice told us about those dogs. It was a long afternoon on the terrace of the Hotel des Tilleuls.

They set me free. I discovered something. I could not quite bring myself to stretch out my own hand and take hers. Some journalistic impulse, some queer notion of neutrality prevented me. As she talked on, and I continued to transcribe in the dashing arabesques of my shorthand, I felt myself to be weightless, empty-headed, suspended in my uncertainty between two points, the banal and the profound; I did not know which I was hearing.

Embarrassed, I hunched over my writing so that I did not have to meet her eye. Everyone has to make it for himself. People use different language to describe it. I suppose all the great world religions began with individuals making inspired contact with a spiritual reality and then trying to keep that knowledge alive. Most of it gets lost in rules and practices and addiction to power.

In the end though it hardly matters how you describe it once the essential truth has been grasped - that we have within us an infinite resource, a potential for a higher state of being, a goodness I had heard this before, in one form or another, from a spiritually inclined headmaster, a dissident vicar, an old girlfriend returning from India, from Californian professionals, and dazed hippies.

She saw me shifting in my seat, but she pressed on. What I saw that day, and on many days since, was a halo of coloured light around my body. But the appearance is irrelevant. What matters is to make the connection with this centre, this inner being, and then extend and deepen it.

Then carry it outwards, to others. The healing power of love I could not help myself, my discomfort was simply too intense. I could not bear to hear any more. Perhaps the years of my loneliness were the culture that nourished my scepticism, my protection against those clarion calls to love, to improve, to yield up the defensible core of selfhood and see it dissolve in the warm milk of universal love and goodness.

It is the kind of talk that makes me blush. I wince for those who speak this way. Mumbling an excuse about leg-cramp, I got to my feet, but too quickly. My chair tipped backwards and smacked against the cupboard with a loud crack. I was the one who was startled. She was watching me, slightly amused, as I began to apologise for the interruption. The words are tired, and so am I. Another time it would be better if I could show you what I mean.

Another time The afternoon was at an end.

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