Here is the latest in Alan Mason‘s personal appreciation of twentieth century writing.
This decade was a period of transition in Europe from the bleak austerity of the post-war forties, to the expanding horizons of the sixties. The re-building of Europe’s shattered cities, like Coventry in the English Midlands, provided greater opportunities for architects, and artists than there had ever been before. Coventry Cathedral had been destroyed in a war-time bombing raid and Graham Sutherland was commissioned to produce a tapestry design (1).
In Britain, although things would seem to be grim by the standards of the later twentieth century, there was a mood of rising optimism. Employment was high, and the rationing of food and clothing came to an end, so there was a wider choice of goods. New “satellite” towns, like Crawley, Basildon, and Harlow, sprang up around the major cities to house returning servicemen, keen to raise their families in greener surroundings.
The visual artists of the fifties seem to have been neglected by popular art histories. Although there are no blanks in the art history books, works from the fifties are in short supply. While Picasso, Magritte and Dali in Europe, and Hopper in the US were still working in the fifties, they really belong to an earlier era. In Britain, Graham Sutherland had gained fame with a commission for railway posters advertising distant scenes. The portrait of the painter, Francis Bacon, by his friend and fellow-artist Ruskin Spear brings together two more men of the fifties.
In this review of a few books of the decade, only the last four of my choices are actually “of the fifties”. “Lucky Jim” reflects the expansion of the provincial universities and the progress of the 1944 Education Act in opening them to the children of the working classes. Perhaps it is inevitable that novels tend to look back to earlier times, like the medieval period, (“Knight with Armour”, “The Once and Future King”) Victorian high politics, (“The Lotus and the Wind”), thirties academia, (“The Masters”) and the end of empire in India (“Bhowani Junction”).
1 Knight with Armour ……………………….Alfred Duggan …………………………………………..1950
2 The Once and Future King ……………….T H White ………………………………………………..1958
3 The Lotus and the Wind …………………..John Masters ……………………………………………1953
4 The Masters …………………………………..CP Snow ………………………………………………….1951
5 Bhowani Junction …………………………..John Masters ……………………………………………1954
6 Lucky Jim ……………………………………..Kingsley Amis ………………………………………….1954
7 Billy Liar ……………………………………….Keith Waterhouse ……………………………………..1959
8 Breakfast at Tiffany’s ……………………….Truman Capote ………………………………………..1958
1 Knight with Armour ……………………………Alfred Duggan …………………………………….1950
Alfred Duggan is one of those authors who is commercially successful, with a wide following of enthusiastic readers, but who never receives any critical acclaim or any interest from film producers..He is primarily a historical novelist, which is not yet a criminal offence, but might well be, given the hostility of the world of critics. His work is well-researched, and he is not afraid to record the squalor and pain of the medieval world. Perhaps what is most important, is that he is able to get into the medieval mind, so that the attitudes and thinking of later centuries do not intrude into the narrative.
This novel is about the experiences of Roger, a young man at the end of the eleventh century, seen across a wide canvas from rural Sussex to central Europe, the Anatolian Peninsula (modern Turkey) and the Levant (the countries of the eastern Mediterranean coast). He is a Norman, of the race from Normandy, who had succeeded in conquering Saxon England only thirty years previously, at the Battle of Hastings, under Duke William, ‘the Conqueror’.
The novel opens, “Osbert Fitzralph held the manor of Bodeham (4, now “Bodiam”) in Sussex from the Count of Eu, but in the winter of 1095, the Count was in the King’s prison, awaiting sentence for his unsuccessful rebellion last summer. His tenants, like Osbert, hoped they would soon hold direct from the King, after the land had been confiscated. Still, it would be blatantly unfaithful to go to the King’s court while their lord was his prisoner, so Osbert and his two sons, Ralph and Roger, kept that Christmas of 1095 at the new and half-built Abbey of Battle”.
This gives some insight into what was called the “feudal system” of land-holding. Osbert was a tenant who had been granted his manor and land, which could be farmed for profit, in return for military service. This was backed by a solemn oath of loyalty. If he broke his oath it could result in the confiscation of his estate, imprisonment or death. The word “tenant” is still in use in English-speaking countries. It means, “one who holds” from the Norman-French verb, “to hold”. Osbert’s feudal lord was based in Eu, a town in Normandy, while ‘Bodeham’ in Sussex is now spelled ‘Bodiam’. It has a medieval stone castle, built many years after Osbert’s time. (4)
Normally, a feudal tenant would spend the Christmas period with his lord, receiving food, drink and accommodation. Osbert solved a tricky problem of etiquette, with his lord in jail, by going to the Abbey of Battle, built as a memorial, on the battlefield of Hastings, to attend Mass and accept the hospitality of the Abbot and his monks.
“During Christmas, a Norman monk preached on the great Council of the Church recently held at Clermont in France, and the duty of all Christian warriors to go to the rescue of their persecuted brethren in the East. The congregation of local landholders and peasants heard the sermon in silence, and said nothing afterwards to commit themselves, the Saxons because they could not understand a word of Norman-French, the Normans because they were members of a cautious race.”
“Osbert rode home with his sons, through the deep tangled woods of the Weald. Conversation was impossible on the ride, as the horses struggled in single file, girth-deep in the muddy clay track; but in the evening they crossed the Rother at Bodeham Bridge and up the hill to the timber-and-wattle hall that looked northwards to the endless woods of Kent. There were only servants to welcome them at the manor, for Messer Osbert’s wife had died two years before, and he had no daughters.”
During the meal, Osbert and his sons discussed the sermon. Roger, the younger boy, would not receive anything of the manor on his father’s death, due to the Law of Primogeniture by which the eldest son inherited the undivided estate. Traditionally, younger sons became priests. Roger speaks up, ‘I will never make a clerk, I am too clumsy to write well, and besides, I want to marry some day. My mind is made up. Since the Pope calls us, I will live and die in the Eastern world.’
His father finally agrees to help provide Roger with a horse and armour. The knights in the detail from the Bayeux Tapestry, (6) are from exactly this period. They ride destriers (trained war-horses), wear chain-mail armour and conical helmets with a nasal (nose protector). Each man normally carries a spear and a sword.
The novel describes the progress of Roger’s journey or pilgrimage to the East, on what historians later described as “The First Crusade”. This is no romantic story of chivalry. Young Roger is frequently hungry, occasionally ill, often dispirited, frightened before battle, and dis-illusioned by the political betrayals by the leaders of the Crusade.
There was much political chicanery involved in the Crusade. Alexius, the Eastern Roman Emperor in Constantinople (modern Istanbul) wanted help in holding off invasion by the Ottoman Turks. As a sweetener, he suggested to Pope Urban II that the Holy Places, and Jerusalem might be recovered from the Turkish Muslims. Alexius was more interested in having a mercenary force to do most of the fighting for him, and he had shown little enthusiasm for Jerusalem up to that time.
While the Pope’s motives may have been purely spiritual, the Crusaders, particularly the Normans, (from England, northern France, and southern Italy) were keen to acquire new territories to govern on the coasts of the eastern Mediterranean. Alexius had not been honest with the Pope and the western Christians. Though he tried to hold off the Turks militarily, he frequently made truces and came to convenient arrangements with them.
The Crusaders only discovered this when, having besieged the fortified Muslim city of Antioch (7) to the point of its surrender, Imperial banners were suddenly displayed on the walls. The city had surrendered privately to the Emperor’s envoys and the Crusaders found themselves excluded from the subsequent plundering. Such duplicitous behaviour was not forgotten, by the men of the First or subsequent Crusades. Thus the Crusaders were expected to bear the brunt of the fighting and privation, while the Emperor seized all the benefits for himself.
Roger FitzOsbert experiences a personal betrayal, when the wife he has married on the Crusade, flaunts in his face, her adultery with his cousin. “Anne urged her pony nearer. She was wearing her best silk dress, with a gold-embroidered white silk coif, and looking as lovely as Roger had ever seen her.
‘My poor unfortunate little fool of a husband,’ she said in clear, level tones. ‘I have certainly made up my mind to leave you for ever, and to live of my own free will with this gallant knight. I was helpless and unprotected, and I married you because I thought you were a warrior who would win a fief. But your ridiculous scruples always hold you back, and you will die landless. The best solution would be for Robert to kill you now; but he is too honourable to murder you unarmed. So good-bye for ever, and I hope you meet an Muslim arrow quite soon.’
Notwithstanding all the difficulties, the First Crusade succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of the participants, and Jerusalem was captured in 1099. Roger FitzOsbert took part in the final assault on the walls, when the novel reaches its stunning conclusion.
The author, Alfred Duggan, was born in Buenos Aires of an American mother and an Irish Argentinian father. The Duggans were a wealthy land-owning family. His mother, Grace was born in Alabama, and was the daughter of the US Consul-General in Rio de Janeiro. Two years after the birth of Alfred, the family moved to London when his father, Alfredo Duggan was appointed to the Argentine Legation. Alfredo died in 1915 when Alfred was twelve. His mother subsequently married George Curzon, an English nobleman and politician who had been Viceroy of India (1899-1905) and later British Foreign Secretary (1919-1922).
Alfred was educated at Eton, and Balliol College, Oxford. He used his wealth to travel widely after university crossing the Atlantic under sail on a natural history expedition to the South Seas. He spent some time in archaeological work in the 1930s in Istanbul. On the outbreak of war in 1939 at the age of 36 he volunteered to join the London Irish Rifles. He saw action in the British expedition to the relief of Norway in 1940, when it was under attack from German forces. Having been wounded he was invalided out of the Army, and spent the rest of the war as a fitter in an aircraft factory.
He spent some time in journalism after the war and “Knight with Armour” was his first novel, published in 1950, to be followed by many more. He mostly wrote about the classical worlds of Greece and Rome, and the English medieval period from Saxon times to the early Plantagenet period. He has also published conventional biographies and factual books for children on historical subjects.
2 The Once and Future King ……………………………….T H White …………………………………………1958
This is a children’s book, which tells a version of the story of King Arthur, from an idiosyncratic viewpoint. The characters are put into a supposedly medieval setting, but most of the social conventions are those of late-Victorian/Edwardian England. The Fontana edition carries an excellent and accurate comment from the New York Times, “A glorious dream of the Middle Ages as they never were, but should have been.” Having complained earlier about the neglect of the work of Alfred Duggan, I find myself regretting that T H White’s book was “discovered” by the world of entertainment and turned into a Broadway musical (“Camelot” 1960), a Disney cartoon film (“The Sword in the Stone”, 1963) and a musical film (“Camelot” 1967) (9).
As with the best children’s books, this novel can understood at more than one level. Beyond the simple storytelling, there is also percipient social comment and psychology. Some passages are unbearably poignant, and reveal something of the personal psychology of the author. The opening section, “The Sword in the Stone”, is light-hearted and humorous, but the subsequent four sections are much darker, and are less useful for adaptation for screen and stage. The various sections of the complete work were written and published at different times. The interested reader is directed to an excellent wikipedia article on the history of the construction of the complete novel.
The hero, Arthur, a small boy, unkindly nicknamed “The Wart”, is the adopted son of Sir Ector. He is being reared and educated along with Sir Ector’s own son, Kay, who is about the same age. Unfortunately, Kay is a rather tactless and arrogant boy, prone to refer to the Wart’s inferior status, particularly when it came to inheritance. (This medieval preoccupation was referred to earlier in Knight with Armour).
The opening of the novel gives a flavour of T H White’s literary style and enthusiasm for medieval learning.
“INCIPIT LIBER PRIMUS
THE SWORD IN THE STONE
She is not any common earth
Water or wood or air,
But Merlin’s Isle of Gramarye
Where you and I will fare.
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays it was Court Hand and Summulae Logicales, while the rest of the week it was the Organon, Repetition and Astrology. The governess was always getting muddled with her astrolabe, and when she got specially muddled she would take it out of the Wart by rapping his knuckles. She did not rap Kay’s knuckles, because when Kay grew older he would be Sir Kay, the master of the estate.
The Wart was called the Wart because it more or less rhymed with Art, which was short for his real name, Arthur. Kay had given him the nickname. Kay was not called anything but Kay, as he was too dignified to have a nickname and would have flown into a passion if anybody had tried to give him one.
In the afternoons the programme was: Mondays and Fridays, tilting and horsemanship; Tuesdays, hawking; Wednesday, fencing; Thursdays, archery; Saturdays, the theory of chivalry, with the proper measures (tunes) to be blown (by horn) on all occasions, terminology of the chase and hunting etiquette. If you did the wrong thing at the mort (kill) or the undoing (disembowelling), for instance, you were bent over the body of the dead beast and smacked with the flat of a sword.”
I offer some translation of the passage above, which gives some insights into medieval education (10). The Latin inscription is, “Here begins the First Book”. “Gramarye” (gram er ee) in the short poem is the Isle of Magic or Knowledge, from the Old French, “gramaire” meaning grammar and learning. “Court hand” is a medieval handwriting style, using a quill pen made from a bird’s feather. The Latin “Summulae Logicales” means, A Summary of the Principles of Logic. “Organon” was the title of Aristotle’s book on logical thinking. “Repetition” means learning by heart, a passage of poetry or prose, to be recited later. Astrology meant the supposed influence of sun, moon and stars on human affairs. An astrolabe was an instrument for measuring the altitude of stars. It was a navigational aid for mariners (11).
The description of the “correct” terms associated with hunting wild animals as the proper knowledge of a medieval gentleman, has persisted right into the twentieth century. There are still those who get cross if you don’t use the “correct” word for an animal’s home, (squirrel’s drey, fox’s lair, badger’s holt, beaver’s lodge etc) or the “proper” collective noun, (flock of sheep, pride of lions, murmuration of starlings etc). I am happy to conserve the richness of the English language, but we should recognise this as an old social mechanism to separate an elite from the common people.
The whole Arthurian cycle is long and complex, as is the novel, so that I only want to include a couple of pieces from it. Firstly, the story of how Arthur meets Merlyn, reveals much of the relationship between the two boys. “The Mews was one of the most important parts of the castle in which the boys lived.” It was where the hawks were kept, because hawking was an important sport for gentlemen. “Right down the length of the room, there ran the screen perches to, which the birds were tied. There were two little merlins, an old peregrine who was not much use in this wooded country but who was kept for appearances, a kestrel on which the boys had learned the rudiments of falconry, a spar-hawk which Sir Ector was kind enough to keep for the parish priest, and, caged off in a special apartment of his own at the far end, there was the tiercel goshawk Cully.” (12)
“Kay put one of the hand gauntlets and called Cully from the perch-but Cully, with all his feathers close-set and malevolent, glared at him with a mad marigold eye and refused to come.
“Do you think we ought to fly him?” asked the Wart doubtfully. “Deep in the moult like this?”
“Of course we can fly him, you ninny,” said Kay. “He only wants to be carried a bit, that’s all.”
“Hob (the austringer or trainer of hawks) says that we must not fly Cully till he has roused at least twice,“ said the Wart.
“Hob does not know anything about it. Nobody can tell whether a hawk is fit to fly except the man who is carrying it. Hob is only a villein (slave) anyway,“ added Kay.
The movement of the hawk’s made the Wart itch to carry him. He yearned to take him away from Kay and set him to rights himself. He felt certain that he could get Cully into a good temper by scratching his feet and softly teasing his breast feathers upward, if only he were allowed to do it himself, instead of having to plod along behind Kay with the stupid lure.”
Kay tries to fly the hawk when the bird was not ready and loses him, sitting in a tree, and the boy lost his temper.
“Let him go, then,“ he said. “He is no use anyway…”
“Oh, we could not leave him,“ cried the Wart. “What would Hob say?“
“It is my hawk, not Hob’s,“ exclaimed Kay furiously. “What does it matter what Hob says? He is a servant.“
“I will stay.“ said the Wart sadly, “if you will send Hob when you get there.”
Kay began walking off raging in his heart because he knew that he had flown the bird when he was not properly ready. Unfortunately, Kay was not really keen on hawking except in so far as it was the proper occupation for
a boy in his station of life, but the Wart had some of the falconer’s feelings and knew that a lost hawk was the greatest possible calamity.
Arthur, the Wart, in searching for the hawk, meets Merlin, (13) and brings him home, along with the bird, to the Castle of the Forest Sauvage. The magician, Merlin, takes over the education of the two boys from the governess, but he is “living backwards in time,” which means that as the Wart and Kay are growing older, he is growing younger.
“As the Wart crossed the castle drawbridge, he said, ‘Look, Hob, we have got Cully’
Hob looked at him so proudly that the boy went quite red.
‘Ah, master, us’ll make an austringer (hawk expert) of ‘ee yet.’
Sir Ector came bustling out and kissed the Wart on both cheeks. ‘Imagine the boy doin’ a quest like that by himself.’
‘I don’t think much of it as a quest; he only got the hawk after all.’ said Kay.
Merlyn, suddenly terrible, thundered, ‘Kay, thou wast ever a proud and ill-tongued speaker, and a misfortunate one. Thy sorrow will come from thine own mouth.’
Kay instead of flying into a rage, hung his head in shame.”
The second selection concerns the Boxing Day Boar Hunt. “They did not hunt the boar (14) on horseback; you were on foot, armed only with a steel spear, against an adversary who weighed a good deal more than you
did and who could unseam you from the navel to the chaps with his sharp tusks. There was only one rule in boar-hunting. It was; Hold on. If the boar charged, you had to drop on one knee and present your boar-spear in his direction. You held the butt of it with your right hand on the ground to take the shock, while you stretched your left arm to its fullest extent and kept the point toward the charging boar.”
The Wart’s guardian, Sir Ector held the Castle Sauvage and his estate from the king, and from time to time the king sent his own huntsman, Master William Twyti, with his hunt servants and hounds to hunt there. The Boxing Day Boar Hunt was one of these times. Sir Ector invited his friends and neighbours to join the hunt, and one of these was Robin Wood, better known to us as Robin Hood. The huntsman had just released his hounds to try to flush the boar out into the open.
“There were five long minutes during which nothing happened. Hearts beat thunderously and a small vein on the side of each neck throbbed in harmony with each heart. The breath of life streamed away on the north wind sweetly, as each realised how beautiful life was, which a reeking tusk might, in a few seconds, rape away from one or another of them, if things went wrong.
There was suddenly a black creature standing on the edge of the clearing. It was charging their neighbour, Sir Grummore before the Wart had recognized what it was. The black thing rushed over the white snow, throwing up little puffs of it. Sir Grummore-also looking black against the snow-turned a quick somersault in a larger puff, and then the boar was gone. The Wart remembered the rank mane of bristles standing upright on its razor back, one flash of a sour tusk, and the red flame from a piggy eye.”
“They have him,” said Master Twyti briefly, and they began to run again. In a small bushment the grimly boar stood at bay. He had got his hindquarters into the nook of a tree, in an impregnable position. The blood of Sir Grummore’s gash welled fatly among the bristles of his shoulder and down his leg. His small eyes darted in every direction.
The hounds stood round barking, while Master Twyti’s favourite hound, Beaumont, lay with his back broken, writhing at his feet. He paid no further attention to the living hound, which could do him no harm. He was black, flaming and bloody.
Suddenly, as a house of cards falling down, the boar was not at bay any more, but charging Master Twyti, but what surged down on the huntsman was not one boar but a bundle of animals. He dared not use his spear for fear of hurting the dogs. Robin dropped his spear, drew his falchion (a curved sword), and calmly picked a hound up by the leg. Into this space where its body had been the falchion went slowly, once, twice, thrice. The whole superstructure stumbled, recovered itself, stumbled again, and sank down ponderously on its left side. The hunt was over.
Master Twyti stroked Beaumont’s head and said, “Hark to Beaumont. Softly, Beaumont, mon amy, (my friend) Beaumont the Valiant. Swef, le douce Beaumont, swef, swef”. (Follow, sweet Beaumont, follow, follow.) The dog licked his hand but could not wag his tail. The huntsman nodded to Robin, who was standing behind, and held the hound’s eyes with his own He said, ” Good dog, Beaumont the valiant, sleep now, old friend Beaumont, good old dog.” Then Robin’s falchion let Beaumont out of this world, to run free with Orion and roll among the stars.
The Wart did not like to watch Master Twyti, as the strange, leathery man stood up without saying anything and whipped the hounds off the corpse of the boar. He put his horn to his lips and blew the four long notes of the mort (the death) without a quaver. But he was blowing the notes for a different reason, and he startled the Wart because he seemed to be crying.”
Most of us have had the great advantage in life, of two loving parents who gave us all the comfort and affection we needed when we were small. Sadly, T H White was not fortunate in this respect, and not surprisingly it affected his life and coloured his writing. He was a child of the British colonial empire, born in Bombay (Mumbai) in 1906, to a superintendent of police and his wife. His father was a drunkard, and his mother was a cold aloof woman, unwilling to show affection.
White moves through this novel in several disguises. He is the orphan boy Arthur, given the dreadful nickname, “the Wart”, lacking parents and in a state of apparent permanent subordination to Kay. He is given affection by “the Nurse” (perhaps a recollection of an “ayah” or Indian children’s nurse), and his guardian, Sir Ector, is a warm-hearted and generous man. The book tells of his elevation, to become King Arthur when he pulls the Sword from the Stone, an illustration of wish-fulfilment in an unhappy child.
There is something of White in the other boy, Kay, a motherless child, also relying on servants for human affection. Though Kay is often presented as aggressive and unkind, the author desribes him as “not an unpleasant person really, but clever, quick, proud, passionate and ambitious, an aspiring heart, impatient in the failing body which imprisoned it.”
Though born in India, White was educated privately in England at Chelten ham College, and then Queen’s College, Cambridge, graduating with a degree in English in 1928. He wtote his thesis on the medieval romance by Thomas Malory, “Le Morte d’ Arthur” (The Death of Arthur- a fanciful biography). He was thus something of an expert on the Arthurian legends. It is clear that the magician and scholar, Merlin, in White’s novel is also the author, in another disguise.
White lived by teaching for four years, and then by writing, publishing his first book in 1936, at the age of thirty. In 1939 on the outbreak of the Second World War, as a pacifist, he moved to Ireland during the hostilities. After the war he moved to Alderney and lived there for the rest of his life. Alderney is a small island, in the Channel Islands, just off the coast of France. This is a British Crown Colony, not technically part of Britain, but with British culture and traditions.
He never married or had any children, and there is much debate as to whether he was a homsexual, but the actual evidence for this seems slight to me. White is reported as saying,”I have had the hideous fate to be born with an infinite capacity for love and joy with no hope of using them.” He died of a heart attack in 1964 aboard ship in the port of Piraeus (Athens) and was buried in Athens. He was returning from a lecture tour in the USA and his ship was bound for Alderney.
3 The Lotus and the Wind …………………..John Masters …………………………………………..1953
As the USA was expanding westwards across the unconquered lands of the Native American tribes, during the nineteenth century, so Tsarist Russia was expanding eastwards across the unconquered Muslim tribes of Central Asia. In North America the USA was blocked from northward expansion by Canada, which was part of the British Empire. In Central Asia Russia was blocked from southward expansion by the Chinese Empire, and to a lesser extent by India, which was also part of the British Empire (18).
India was the great prize. Compared with the dusty, arid semi-deserts of Central Asia, the lush, green fields of India, with its crops and fruits, were a paradise. Its peoples had been civilised for centuries and its monuments were breathtaking (19).
The British and Russian Empires jockeyed for political advantage on the Indian North-West Frontier, during the 19 C, among the violent and lawless tribes of India, Afghanistan, Persia and the Russian Muslim territories. Remarkably, 140 years later Afghanistan, Persia (now Iran) and northern India (now northern Pakistan) are still violent and unstable places, forever in the news for the worst reasons.
The Russians and British used political agents, economic funds, espionage, and diplomatic pressure to try to shift the balance of power among the states which bordered India, as shown in the map in Plate 19. This was known as “Playing the Great Game” by the British Foreign Office, and the British officials who ran the Indian Civil Service. “The Lotus and the Wind” describes the reality of this activity in gripping detail.
The novel opens with a convoy of troops and civilians heading north-west along the Grand Trunk Road. Anne Hildreth, a 23 year old, is travelling the Road with her parents, because her father has been posted to Peshawar, a town near the Afghan border. She is in love with Robin Savage, and wants to marry him, but has not yet told her parents. Robin is a junior army officer. When he was a baby, his mother was murdered during the Indian Mutiny, and he is now a rather lonely and unfathomable person. Robin is with the advanced guard of Ghurkas. These are Nepalese men serving as British soldiers. They are well ahead of the convoy, reconnoitering the route to prevent any attack by bandits. Anne is riding along with Major Hayling, an army political (espionage) officer.
“Across the scrub-covered plain, men with camels approached. The men had the faces of eagles and walked with a long, slow, lifting stride. One of them looked up as he passed by. Anne smiled at him, expecting the salaam (polite bow) and the answering smile of an ordinary Indian wayfarer. But this was not India. The man stared her down, from pale green eyes. He carried a long rifle slung across his shoulders; a woman, shapelessly swathed in red and black cotton, swayed on top of the camel that he led; a lad of fourteen walked behind the camel; the lad had no beard, but his stride was an exact imitation of his father’s insolent lilt, and he too carried a rifle.
Major Hayling explained, ‘They are Pathans (pat arns) – Aka Khel Afridis,'(af ree dees).
To the left, the River Indus plunged into the Attock gorge, (22) after that flowing on down between rocks and deserts to the sea. Behind her lay such peace and security as India knew. That was a good life back there. Simla was there, and Robin had been in Simla. Robin was out in front, to the west, now. In front the land was jagged and the people harsh and the sky unrelenting” (Simla was a hill station, much favoured by Europeans in the hottest weather because it was cooler. It offered a rich social life and that is why Anne and Robin had met there.)
Major Hayling and Anne hear shots from the hillsides. It does not appear to be an attack on the convoy, but is possibly a local blood-feud. Anne sees a running man coming towards the convoy, trying to escape from three Pathans pursuing him, shooting as they run.
‘He’s looking for shelter, he wants help!’ Anne screamed.
One of the Pathans dropped to his knee, steadied, and fired. The lone man curled up like a shot rabbit and fell headlong. He still held to the long jezail (an ancient long-barrelled rifle) in his right hand, until he reached a cleft of the rock.
Anne cried, ‘Save him!’ and found herself running up the hill.
The lone man had been so close to safety when the bullet from behind smashed him down. His face was that of an old man lost. She stumbled up the hill. The two Gurkhas with her began to shoot, hurrying a few paces, shooting, reloading, running again, yelling to her to come back. One of the three Pathans went down, shot in the head by the Gurkha to her right. She and the Gurkhas could not reach the lone man before his enemies did. He had let go of the jezail. The Pathans reached him when Anne and the riflemen were still twenty yards away. Knives flashed, and the Pathans swooped. A long steel glitter ended in the lone man’s back. The Pathans, without stopping their headlong pace, snatched up the lone man’s jezail and swerved around and bounded like stags back up the hill.
Major Hayling leaned, panting, at her side, sweat pouring down behind the black patch on his right eye. He bent over the wounded man and spoke to him softly, insistently, in a harsh local tongue. At last he stood up. ‘He can’t speak; he’s paralysed. He’s not from around here. Nor are the others, the two dead up there.’
The wounded man wrote in his own blood (23) on the nearby rock, the word “atlar” (horses). It appears later that he was an agent, Selim Beg, working for the British. He had been killed, probably to silence him, by Pathans, paid by the Russians. But why had they risked their lives to get his jezail? Robin Savage discovers a further clue when he examines another captured jezail, with an inscription scratched on the stock. The complete message is “Atlar shimal” (horses north).
Robin is subsequently transferred from the Ghurka infantry, with his bearer Jagbir Pun, to the political branch to follow up the mystery, and discover the full and frightening significance to India of the words, “horses, north” and why the Russians would have agents killed to preserve the secret. His travels take him from India to Afghanistan, into Persia and to the Persian Gulf.
Finally, he returns to the wastes of Central Asia, through Bokhara and Samarkhand to the outer edge of the Himalayas. He meets up with the Russian agents, a married couple, the Muralyevs (moor arl yovs) whose cover as they are travelling, is as professional ornithologists. Robin manages to turn the allegiance of the husband but his wife Lenya (leen yar) is implacable, so they (Muralyev, Robin and Jagbir) escape from her and head into the Pamir mountains (24).
“Usually in the first light the world was pale and green as though lying under shallow coastal water. Now the light fanning out above the Pamirs was yellow.
Muralev looked around and reined in his pony. The three came together and stared fearfully at the eastern horizon. Muralev said, ‘It is the burhan – to-day of all days!’
Often in the caravanserais (25) travellers talked of the burhan. Robin, watching the yellow light crawl up the face of the mountains, muttered,
‘Shall we stay here until it’s blown over?’
`We can’t. The men in the yurts (round felt tents) saw us. She’ll know by now. To-morrow she’ll be here.’
Robin said, ‘It will be hard.’
Muralev answered, ‘To-day you will see God.’
(This apocalyptic statement meant, ‘We are going to experience such severe conditions that we shall be lucky to survive.’ The buran is described as ‘a cold, fierce, northerly wind of Siberia and Central Asia, mainly in winter. It reaches gale force, 35-40 mph, and temperatures of -20 to -30 degrees, while carrying snow and ice particles. Thus is dangerous to human and animal life especially on the open steppes.’ From “A Dictionary of Geography by W G Moore. A caravanserai is a very large, square building with high walls and an open roof, for sheltering camel caravans during the hours of darkness. 25)
The plateau broke into soaring ridges, and they entered a steep gorge. All the while the light brightened until the sky from end to end shone brilliant yellow. The air began to move. A loud sound broke out, and the blast hit them and threw them down, men and ponies, upon the shale and the snow. Robin lay on his face, his fingers and nails pressed out and clawing into the shale to hold him. The wind boomed across the face of the ridge and dragged him with it. Pebbles and grit and snow lashed into his head and broke the skin, but the blood could not force out against the wind.”
Fortunately, they survive, and Robin returns to British India with a full report on exactly what the phrase, “horses, north” actually means in military and political terms, in the relationship with Tsarist Russia. By the end of the novel, he has married Anne and they have twins, a boy and a girl. In the title, “The Lotus and the Wind”, Anne is the lotus, representing calm, stillness, warmth and security, while Robin is the wind, free, restless, ever moving but always returning.
The author, John Masters, is also one of those writers destined to be commercially successful but never awarded any critical acclaim by the literary establishment. Unlike his contemporary, Alfred Duggan, several of his books were made into films. His works comprise a particular genre of their own. The term, “roman fleuve” (ro mon flerv) literally, “river novel” refers to a collection of several novels, each of which has a cast of characters common to them all, that is, “they all swim in the same river.”
By contrast, John Masters uses one character, present at the end of an earlier book, but appearing as a main charcacter in the following book. We might call this a “roman d’escalier” (ro mon dess cal ee ay) or “ladder novel”. His novels deal with successive members of the Savage family, Englishmen in India, from the seventeenth century (“Coromandel”) to the mid-twentieth century (“Bhowani Junction”). The hero of “The Lotus and the Wind” is Robin Savage, whose mother was murdered in the Indian Mutiny, when he was a baby, as described in the preceding novel, “Nightrunners of Bengal”. Robin’s children appear in the succeeding novel, “Far, Far the Mountain Peak”.
4 The Masters ………………………………..C P Snow ……………………………………………………………1951
This novel looks back to the late ninteen thirties, and the world of academia.
Snow’s work is disregarded nowadays as too portentous, too lacking in modern zip, and youth. If one is comfortable with an adult style and adult characters who don’t misbehave, or if they do, arrange it discreetly, then Snow’s scene setting and examination of motives and intentions can be fascinating.
Snow produced a whole series of novels in the “roman fleuve” (ro mon flerv) tradition, where characters and locations are carried over from one novel to the next. His, hero is Lewis Eliot, an academic lawyer who acts as an observer and commentator on events. By choosing this persona, Snow is able to avoid the suspicion of autobiography in his novels, as he was a scientist, and academic, but never a lawyer. Snow was a Fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge, and this review is illustrated by pictures of that institution, but the College of the novel is purely imaginary.
“The Masters” is set in a Cambridge college, whose present Master, (college principal) is dying. It shows the wheeling and dealing among fourteen Fellows to elect one of their number as a new Master after his death. There is an accurate observation of the oblique way in which pressure is applied, and protagonists are promoted by suggestion and circumlocution.
“The snow had only just stopped, and in the court below all sounds were dulled. It was early in January, and the college was empty and quiet; I could just make out the footsteps of the porter, as he passed below the window on his last round of the night… It was scorchingly hot in front of the fire, and warm, cosy, shielded in the zone of the two armchairs… an island of comfort around the fireplace… outside that zone in the lofty medieval room, the draughts were bitter.”
The Senior Tutor, Jago, brings Eliot the news that the Master has only six months to live.
“This news has shaken me, I can’t think of everything it means. “Can you think of everything it means?”
I shook my head, “It has come as a shock”
“You haven’t thought of any consequences at all?”
“I had to break the news to colleagues in hall. I hadn’t thought of it myself but they pointed out there was a consequence that couldn’t be put aside.”
He waited again and then said quickly, “In a few weeks the college will have to elect a new master.”
“Yes,” I said.
This gives a flavour of a man desperate to say, “I want to be the new Master, so will you vote for me, Eliot?” but having to come at it in a roundabout way. He strains credibility with the claim, “I hadn’t thought of it myself…” Of course he had. It would have registered one second after he heard the death sentence pronounced on the present Master of the College.
The two contenders are Crawford, a distinguished scientist, with liberal leanings, but a rather dull, pompous personality. The other is Jago, a rather less academically distinguished arts tutor, a Tory, but a warm, passionate man, with an engaging personality. The character of Arthur Brown is notable as the fixer behind the scenes, the man who wishes to dampen the fires of election fever because when it is all over they must pull together for the benefit of the College. He enjoys the exercise of influence, through others, and avoids occupying positions of power himself.
Brown is keen to run Jago for the Mastership, but is careful not to alienate Crawford in case Jago loses, and Brown needs to work through Crawford as the new Master. It emerges that the main problem with Jago, is his wife. She is metaphorically “measuring up the new curtains for the Master’s Lodge”, before the present incumbent is dead, and is unfortunately indiscreet about it.
Nothing is worse for a candidate than giving the impression that it is “in the bag”. British readers may recall the Parliamentary election of 1992, when the Labour leader, Neil Kinnock was up against the incumbent Conservative Prime Minister, John Major. One journalist summed up the campaign very accurately when he said, “We have a Prime Minister behaving like a Leader of the Opposition, (standing on a soap box to address the crowds), and a Leader of the Opposition, Neil Kinnock, behaving like a Prime Minister.” Kinnock’s air of confidence and even bombast, appear to have been his downfall, and he lost, to most people’s surprise.
Arthur Brown is with three other Fellows, Eliot, Nightingale and Chrystal. He is cautiously sounding out Nightingale, a scientific Fellow of the College.
‘I think that Winslow may fancy the idea of Crawford as Master. I wonder how you’d regard him’
There was a pause.
‘I’m not specially enthusiastic,’ said Nightingale.
‘I thought it would be natural if you went for someone like Crawford on the scientific side.’
Suddenly Nightingale’s careful manner broke.
‘I might if it weren’t Crawford,’ he said. His voice was bitter: ‘There’s not been a day pass in the last three years when he hasn’t reminded me that he is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and that I am not.’
‘That’s ridiculous,’ said Brown consolingly. ‘He’s got a good many years’ start, hasn’t he?’
‘Nightingale’s voice was harsh with envy, with sheer pain. Chrystal left all the talk to Brown.
Nightingale was a man drawn into himself. Suspicion and envy lived in him; they were part of his nature. But he had been unlucky, he had been frustrated in his most cherished hope, and now envy never left him alone. He had once possessed great promise. He had known what it was to hold creative dreams: and they had not come off.
As a very young man he had shown a spark of real talent. He was one of the earliest theoretical chemists. By twenty-three he had written two good papers on molecular structure, and orbital theory; he was ten years ahead of his time. The college had elected him a Fellow, everything seemed easy. But the spark burnt out. The years passed. Often he had new conceptions; but the power to execute them had escaped from him.
It would have been bitter to the most generous heart. In Nightingale‘s, it made him fester with envy. His reputation in his subject was already gone. He would not get into the Royal Society now. But, as March came round each year, he waited for the Royal Society elections in expectation, in anguish, in bitter suspiciousness, at moments in the knowledge of what he might have been.”
Eventually, the two camps appear to be evenly divided, between Crawford and Jago, but the weak link in the chain which Arthur Brown has forged for Jago, is Nightingale.
The author, Charles Snow had middle-class origins as the son of a choirmaster and church organist in the city of Leicester (less ter) in the English Midlands. He did undergraduate studies at the Leicestershire and Rutland College, and took an external London University degree. This college is now the University of Leicester. Now, having a master’s degree in physics, he went to Cambridge on a scholarship, to study for a Ph D in spectroscopy, and in 1930 he was elected a Fellow of Christ’s College at the age of twenty-five.
The laboratories of the thirties, (32) in which Snow worked were carefully designed, but were quite different from those of today. Not only were the floors made of teak blocks, but the cupboards, benches, and shelves were also of teak. It was a hard, resistant, dark red-brown wood, largely unaffected by acids and fumes. The walls were tiled up to waist height, often in brown or dark green tiles. The overall impression was rather dark compared with the clinical whiteness of modern laboratories. All my own studies were made in rooms equipped like this, until a change in laboratory design began in the nineteen-sixties.
Snow’s description of Nightingale, that “as a very young man he had shown a spark of real talent. He was ten years ahead of his time. The college had elected him a Fellow, everything seemed easy. But the spark burnt out.” How much of this was applicable to Snow himself? True he was not bitter, or unsuccessful, having gone into the Civil Service, eventually been knighted (1957) and made a life peer, a Baron (1964). However, all that scientific promise, and the Cambridge Fellowship did not produce groundbreaking research, nor a Fellowship of the Royal Society.
On a personal note, I met C P Snow briefly, in 1960. The BBC was trying out a pilot, for a new current affairs radio programme called, “Asking the World”. It involved a series of luminaries in different world cities taking part in a joint discussion on questions of the day. We had C P Snow in London, and Norman Podhoretz in New York, but the other two escape my memory. At the time, it seemed a rather ponderous programme, and the pilot never made it to a full-blown series. It might be easier today with modern technology, but in 1960 it was working at the edge of disaster. I
was part of an invited audience that seemed to consist mostly of students, because we were near Broadcasting House and up for anything that was free. After the recording had finished, several of us went over to meet Snow and had some conversation with him on topics raised in the programme. He was courteous and amiable to all those with questions.
I include another recollection about the issue of being a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1953 I spent a year in a research unit headed by Prof G W Harris, who had been newly elected F R S. Over fifty years later I was in Oxford, as a patient, at the John Radcliffe Hospital for surgery, and then the Churchill Hospital for an endocrinology follow-up. There was a Geoffrey Harris Ward in the Churchill, and it amused me to ask the young specialist endocrinologists who examined me, if they knew who Geoffrey Harris was. Each time there was an embarrassed pause, until they admitted they did not know. I was able to explain that I not only knew who he was, but I had also known him as my boss.
Such is fame, so that fifty years later, doctors who were specialising in the very area of Harris’s research had never heard of him. Would that have consoled poor Nightingale, I wonder.
5 Bhowani Junction …………………………..John Masters ……………………………………………1954
This is a second book by John Masters in this review, and it was turned into a film starring Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck, (34) who were two big Hollywood stars of the time. Unfortunately, the “star “system” distorted all it touched. The plot of the novel was altered to make it into a big love story, for the two stars. Masters’ novel was not a love story. It was about the Anglo-Indian community in British India and their problems of “belonging”. Incidentally, two of the principal characters, Patrick and Victoria, who have known each other since childhood, do marry by the end of the novel, but theirs is not a conventional love story. The subleties of the novel were too difficult for Hollywood who reduced everything to simple stereotypes. I think that a Merchant-Ivory production could have created a far more truthful and sympathetic film, rather as they did with E M Forster’s “A Passage to India”.
The Anglo-Indian community was a group of people of mixed race. For centuries, soldiers and merchants had been travelling to India from Britain. They were mostly English, but with many Scots Irish and Welsh. As there was a lack of European women, many of these men took Indian wives. Their children and their descendents formed the Anglo-Indian community. They were looked down on by the upper-class Europeans who did not mix with them socially, and they were rejected by the better-off Indian communities too. Consequently, the Anglo-Indians had to look to themselves for mutual support. They even found it necessary to build and run their own schools, of which St Aloysius (al o ish us) (35) is a typical example. British readers may not be aware that this particular school was founded well before most of the British nineteenth century grammar schools, and before some of the newer public schools.
India, then as now, was a country of great diversity in race, castes, languages and religions. The main religion was that of the Hindus, but there were Muslims, Buddhists and Sikhs. The Anglo-Indians were mostly Anglican Christians, like their British rulers. The two principal languages were Hindi and Urdu, but there were many others. The Anglo-Indians spoke English at home but needed to know some native languages for the workaday world.
With the coming of the railways to India, the Anglo-Indians began to specialise in railway work, because it was too dirty and heavy for the British middle- and upper classes. The military and economic importance of the railways meant that the British needed operatives they could trust, and the Anglo-Indians fitted the bill. The novel “Bhowani Junction” (bo wah nee) is about the Anglo-Indian railway people of the small fictional Indian town.
The heroine of the novel, Victoria Jones, is the daughter of an engine-driver, and she is a WAC (I), colloquially called a wack eye. The intials stand for Women’s Army Corps, India. This is just at the end of WW2, when British women could enrol in their own branches of the armed services. Wrens, (WRNS) for the Navy, WAACs for the Army and WRACs for the Air Force. They were employed in administrative and secretarial roles, but never in armed combat. WAC (I)s were recruited from women in the sub-continent, and wore a smart uniform with a forage cap and cap-badge (36).
The novel is in four sections, each told in the first person, from the standpoint of one of the three principal characters, Patrick Taylor, Victoria Jones, Rodney Savage, and Patrick again.
On Victoria’s return from the army, her boy friend, Patrick Taylor, another Anglo-Indian who has known her since babyhood, goes to see her on his new motorbike. The complexity of the racial issues emerges almost immediately from Patick’s reactions.
“I said, ‘Why —why, Vicky, you have grown!’
She said, ‘Don’t call me Vicky.’
I said, ‘You were glaring at me just now. Should I call you “Ma’am”, then, after all? Miss Subaltern Jones?’
She laughed and said, ‘No, that’s all over, thank heavens. Only please call me Victoria.’
Out in the road, she was looking at my Norton. It wasn’t new, but I’d only just bought it second-hand. I put my hand on her bare arm. I said, ‘Where is your solar topi? You will get all sunburned.’
‘I never wear one,’ she told me.
‘But the sun!’ I cried. ‘It is the hottest time of the day! You will get all brown!’
She looked at me in a funny way and said, ‘It isn’t sunburn that makes us brown, is it?’
If we Anglo-Indians didn’t wear topis people would think we were Wogs, not me, I have pale blue eyes, and red hair, but most of us.
I felt her taking a good look at me. Her own skin was the same colour as mine, perhaps a little browner, less yellow. We didn’t look like English people. We looked like what we were Anglo-Indians, Eurasians, cheechees, half-castes, eight-annas, blacky-whites. I’ve heard all the names they call us, but 1 don’t think about them unless I’m angry.
(The topi, or topee, 37, was a lightweight conical helmet with a wide peak, and neck flare. An air hole at the top was covered by an open stud. It was worn by army, naval and civilian personnel. The design was based on a totally erroneous 19C medical view of the effect of sun on a bare human head. Its death knell came after the WW2, North African Campaign, 1940 42, when the British, Australian, German and Italian troops chose to wear soft, flimsy, caps or no headgear at all, when not actually fighting.)
“Just as the bike began to move, Victoria’s sister ran out of the house shouting, ‘Patrick, wait, stop!’ She said, ‘Patrick, you’re wanted at the office. They’ve just telephoned.’
I shouted, ‘Oh, it is too bad! Can’t that bloody Wog do anything by himself? I’ve only just left the bloody station.’
‘It’s a derailment,’ she told us.
There are accidents sometimes on any railway, but when she said ‘derailment’ the picture that popped up in my mind was of a Wog pulling out a fish-plate, and all mixed up with that was the result of what he’d done – the smash, and the Wog dancing up and down and yelling for joy. That was the awful thing that anyone should be happy to see a train derailed.
‘Who are you talking about?’ Victoria asked.
`Mr Ranjit Bloody Singh Kasel, my new assistant,’ I said.”
Patrick is resentful of the fact that a start had been made, in recruiting Indians as engine crews for goods trains, and now are being brought into junior levels of management.
The plot involves the politics of Indian nationalism, attempts to disrupt the railways, an attempted rape, and a murder in self-defence. Victoria, uncertain of her racial identity, experiments with Sikhism, and contemplates marriage to Ranjit Singh Kasel, to become fully Indian. Then she enters a relationship with Rodney Savage, an English Lieutenant-Colonel of Ghurkas, and the prospect of becoming fully English. Finally, she chooses Patrick and her Anglo-Indian heritage.
What also emerges is that the author is a railways buff (38) and he provides a lot of incidental material on how the Indian steam railways worked. Colonel Savage tells the father of Victoria, that he proposes ride with him on the footplate of his locomotive, as part of his “military duties”. Victoria has always wanted to ride with her father but railway regulations forbade it. Now he can permit it because Victoria is the Colonel’s assistant and obeying military orders.
Mr Jones is quaintly referred to as “pater” Latin for “father”. Engine drivers in England would never make their children call them “pater”; it was very much an upper-class practice. It seems to be another aspect of Anglo-Indians trying to assert their Englishness.
The novel continues, told by Victoria, as she describes her impressions on the footplate, “Mothi, the senior fireman, opened the firebox door (39). The furnace was a deep roaring bed of violet flames. Tamoo, his junior, shovelled in coal. The safety valve on the firebox crown, a little in front of the cab, burst into a drumming buzz, and steam shot up forty feet into the air.
Pater tugged the whistle-cord again and opened the regulator which is a long lever. Whoof! The platform began to slide back. The safety valve shut down with a click as the steam went into the cylinders. Whoof! I
saw the Stationmaster writing in a notebook; whoof – a man could still walk beside the train; whoof – he’d have to run; whoof – run fast; whoof, whoof, whoof, whoof!
Pater twirled a small wheel under his hand to shorten his cut-off. The exhaust settled down to a steady tramp, two beats a second – whoof-whoof-whoof-whoof-whoof. I
could see a section of the boiler through the little forward window. The boiler was long and black and had three stainless steel bands round it between the front of the firebox and the back of the smokebox. The engine had a short thick funnel. The smoke and steam jerked up in exact time with the trampling beat.
The boiler, the bands like steel girths, searched like a huge animal for its way among the maze of rails. Out in front of us the rails stretched like a hundred tangled snakes between the yards and the Loco Sheds, but we found our own path under the gantries. The signals were like a page of semaphore for us to read, their drunken arms giving us the message. It was a book I had learned to read without being taught, the way I had learned English and Hindustani. I muttered the messages of the signals to myself, hugging myself with pleasure to be here: Branch Line Crossover, clear. Up Yard Approach, clear – that was interlocked with the next one -Up Loco Shed, clear. Up Repair Shop Junction, clear. Up Yard Exit Junction, clear. In banks and rows and separate stands the arms fell back.
Number 4 Collett Road passed by. Our little house sat quietly there in its semi-detached compound behind the straggly hedge. Then there was nothing but the tramp, tramp, tramp, of the engine.”
The future of the Anglo-Indian communities in a totally independent Indian Republic was a matter of increasing concern for Patrick and Victoria. There seemed to be only two options. Either they stayed in the new India, where they would need to change their attitude to the native Indian peoples, or they must leave and follow the British to Britain. Curiously, the author only mentions the second solution, in order to dismiss it without examining it seriously. The British, quite reasonably, refer to Britain as “Home” as, in imitation, do the Anglo-Indians, who have never ever been there.
Victoria reflects, “Searching for home, I had not found home — only Home and a house.
Home was where the English came from and went back to, though I never could. Home was where they did not have a city and a cantonment (pronounced can toon ment) in every big town, so that the English officers laughed at an Anglo-Indian who talked about how he was going ‘Home to Southampton Cantonment’. Our house was a bungalow sitting on a tired piece of land belonging to a country which Pater and everyone who lived in the house repudiated.”
Writing in the second decade of the 20C, when Britain has taken in immigrants, literally from all quarters of the globe, it seems incredible that the author, John Masters, speaking sympathetically, for the Anglo-Indian community, did not see emigration as a realistic possibility. True, he was writing 60 years ago, but the “Empire Windrush” bearing the first wave of immigrants from the British colonial Empire, had arrived in Britain six years before the book was published.
Had Patrick and Victoria emigrated to Britain, they would soon have found themselves part of an Anglo-Indian community. Attitudes of mutual self-help contined, and Patrick, with his experience of railways, would certainly have found employment with the newly nationalised British Rail, where overcrowding was never quite as bad as in India (40).
6 Lucky Jim ……………………………………..Kingsley Amis ………………………………………….1954
Kingsley Amis became one of Britain’s best-known authors, during the latter half of the twentieth century, and his novel, “Lucky Jim” was the start of his career. I bought my copy of the Penguin edition (41) soon after it was published, and I identified with the hero, Jim Dixon, who was a young man, making his way in the world. Like him, I had the experience of working closely with a much older man whose attitudes and mannerisms were a continual source of irritation to me. Also, like Jim Dixon, I needed this job for the opportunities that it presented, and could not afford to alienate my boss, or risk losing the position.
Essentially, this novel is about “parity of esteem”, a once-familiar phrase used to describe two sorts of schools at the secondary level (11-18). In post-war Britain, state secondary schools were of two kinds. The grammar schools took the most able children academically, and the secondary modern schools took the rest.
It was naively optimistic to expect that the two types of school would enjoy “parity of esteem”, or equal respect. The grammar schools not only took the brightest children, who would go on to university, and professional careers, but they had far better facilities. Many were two or three hundred years old and had accumulated trusts and bequests. They had attractive old buildings, often set among their own playing fields (42).
This situation led to a drive by left-wing politicians to end eleven-plus selection, and create a single type of state secondary school for all children (the “comprehensive”). This was mostly achieved by Labour governments in the 1960s and is associated with the name of the Labour minister, Anthony Crosland.
Looking back, it can be seen that this policy was a disaster, as many predicted at the time. The people who suffered most were the bright children of the working classes. Grammar schools had provided a route for them, out of poverty, and into professional work. In the early 21 C we know that social inequalities have been growing, rather than diminishing, and it is now more difficult for working-class children to succeed than it was forty years ago.
Ironically, the sixties saw the first grammar school-educated Prime Ministers, Harold Wilson (Labour), and Edward Heath (Conservative). Despite the fact that the school system had given both of them opportunities and an Oxford University education, they were complaisant in its destruction by Crosland.
The universities were the other area of education in which “parity of esteem” was important. For about six hundred years, (from the 13 to the 19 centuries) Oxford and Cambridge (43) were the only two English universities. In the early 19 century London and Durham were established. Colleges were created in the great cities like Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol, as well as in Wales (44), Exeter, and Reading, which gained full university status in the 20 century.
There was always a problem as to what to call these newer institutions. “Provincial” was true of most of them, but not appropriate for the colleges of London University in the capital city. “Redbrick” became the adjective of choice; unfair, dismissive, condescending, and insulting. There was no “parity of esteem” between “Oxbridge” and “Redbrick”. The former had a start of 600 years, to accumulate bequests, lands, capital, beautiful medieval buildings, and a roll-call of famous alumni (“old boys”) in politics, government, academia, and science.
There was never likely to be “parity of esteem” in Jim Dixon’s day in the fifties, and nor is there today in the opening years of the 21 century. Anyone who is anyone wants to go to Oxford or Cambridge, anything else is second-best. The author, Kingsley Amis, was a product of the public schools and Oxford, but his novel is about a fictional “Redbrick” university, where everything could be seen as a pale reflection of a “proper” university like Oxford or Cambridge.
“Lucky Jim” opens with a conversation between the hero, Jim Dixon, a junior history lecturer, and his chief, Professor Welch, who is an enthusiast for madrigals, which are 16 C musical compositions involving a group of people playing and singing together. Dixon is hopelessly bored by the whole pretentious and narcissistic business, but needs to feign interest to please his boss.
“The reporter chap from the Post had got the madrigals story wrong,; but what do you think they said then?’
Dixon shook his head.
‘I don’t know, Professor,’ he said in sober veracity. No other professor in Great Britain, he thought, set such store by being called Professor.
`Flute and piano.’
Dixon and his professor were now moving diagonally across a small lawn towards the front of the College. To look at, they resembled some kind of variety act: Welch tall and weedy, with limp whitening hair, Dixon on the short side, fair and round-faced. Despite this over-evident contrast between them, Dixon realized that their progress, must seem rather donnish to passing students. He and Welch might well be talking about history, and in the way history might be talked about in Oxford and Cambridge quadrangles. At moments like this Dixon came near to wishing that they really were.
“Welch was talking yet again about his concert.
‘There was the most marvellous mix-up in the piece… my word…’
Quickly deciding on his own word, Dixon said it to himself and then tried to flail his features into some sort of response to humour.
How had Welch become Professor of History, even at a place like this? By published work? No. By extra good teaching? No, in italics. Then how? As usual, Dixon shelved this question, telling himself that what mattered was that this man had decisive power over his future, at any rate until the next four or five weeks were up. Until then he must try to make Welch like him, and one way of doing that was, he supposed, to be present and conscious while Welch talked about concerts.”
Amis himself rather neatly straddled the two worlds alluded to above. He was born in Clapham in 1922, and raised in Norbury, two outer suburbs of south London, His father was a clerk in the City of London, the business heart of the capital. Fortunately, Amis was a bright boy and he achieved through scholarships what his father could never have provided from a clerk’s income. He went to the City of London School, a day public school with an excellent teaching reputation. Thus he avoided the usual grammar-school route, and entered St John’s College, Cambridge, (43) also on a scholarship.
His academic career was interrupted by WW2 1939-45. He went to Oxford in 1941, and was called up for military service in 1942. After three years in the Royal Corps of Signals he returned to Oxford in 1945, studying English Literature, and graduating in 1947. Although he wanted to devote himself to writing, he took a job as a Lecturer at Swansea University (44) to help support his wife and young children.
Jim is invited to a weekend with Prof and Mrs Welch which he can hardly refuse. He seeks some solace in the nearby pub with disastrous results.
“Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.” Among other things, Jim had been smoking in bed, and had burned holes in the sheets, in his stupor.
The College held its awful Summer Ball, in pale imitation of the Oxbridge May Ball. “An enormous, half-incoherent voice, like an ogre at the onset of aphasia, now began to sing through loudspeakers. “Ya parp the hokey-cokey and ya tarn parp parp, parp what it’s all parp parp.” In the end, rather improbably, Dixon manages to get himself a new job as assistant to a tycoon. He escapes from Welch, steals Christine, the pretty girl-friend of Welch’s dreadful son Bertrand.
“As he left the College bar with Christine at his side, Dixon felt like a special agent, a picaroon, a Chicago war-lord, a hidalgo, an oil baron, a mohock. He kept careful control over his features to stop them doing what they wanted to do and breaking out into an imbecile smirk of excitement and pride. When she turned and faced him at the edge of the dance floor, he found it hard to believe that she was really going to let him touch her, or that the men near them wouldn’t spontaneously intervene to prevent him. But in a moment there they were in the conventional pseudo-embrace, actually dancing together.”
7 Billy Liar ……………………………………….Keith Waterhouse ……………………………………..1959
Billy Fisher, the hero of this novel by Keith Waterhouse, is like Jim Dixon, a working-class boy from the North of England making his way in the world. Unlike Dixon, who uses education as a route to escape his origins, Billy uses fantasy, hence his nickname, “Billy Liar”, because “you can’t believe a bloody word he says”. The book was published in 1959 (46) and was later adapted as a play, a film and a TV series.
The author was born and raised in the town of Leeds, in Yorkshire, the son of a greengrocer. He did a variety of humdrum jobs before moving into journalism. Although, the book is wickedly funny, it is also full of shrewd comments on the speech, attitudes and customs of Yorkshire people in the nineteen fifties. It is set in the fictional Yorkshire town of Stradhoughton, and begins with a common domestic scene, described by the author as like an old tram car, grinding along familiar tracks and taking aboard festering arguments, like regular passengers at the same stops every day.
“The breakfast ceremony at my home “Hillcrest” (47) had never been my idea of fun. It was a choice example of the hygienic family circle, but to me it had taken on the glazed familiarity of some old print such as ‘When Did You Last See Your Father?’ I was greeted by the usual breathing noises.
`You decided to get up, then,’ my mother said, slipping easily into the second series of conversations of the day.
The old man looked up from some invoices and said: `And you can start getting bloody well dressed before you come down in a morning.’ So far the dialogue was taking a fairly conventional route and I was tempted to throw in one of the old stand-bys, ‘Why do you always begin your sentences with an “And”?’
Gran, another dress fanatic, chipped in: ‘He wants to burn that raincoat, then he’ll have to get dressed of a morning.’
One of Gran’s peculiarities was that she would never address anyone directly but always went through an intermediary, if necessary some static object such as a cupboard. Doing the usual decoding I gathered that she was addressing my mother and that “he” who should burn the raincoat was the old man, and “he” who would have to get dressed of a morning was me.
`And what bloody time did you get in last night? The old man said : I’m not having you gallivanting round at all hours, not at your bloody age.’
`Who are you having gallivanting round, then?’ I asked, the wit rising for the day like a pale and watery sun.
My mother took over, assuming the clipped, metallic voice of the morning interrogation. ‘What were you doing down Foley Bottoms at nine o’clock last night?’
I said belligerently: ‘Who says I was down at Foley Bottoms?’
`Never mind who says, or who doesn’t say. You were there, and it wasn’t that Barbara you were with, neither.’
`He wants to make up his mind who he is going with,’ Gran said.
There was a rich field of speculation for me here. Since my mother had never even met Barbara – or Rita either – the one involved in the Foley Bottoms episode, that is – I wondered how she managed to get her hands on so many facts without actually hiring detectives.
I said: ‘Well you want to tell whoever saw me to mind their own fizzing business.’
Billy is involved with three different young women, Barbara, who he nicknames, “the Witch”, Rita, and Liz. He has to tell a lot of lies to each of them, to keep all the balls in the air. Barbara dreams of a country cottage in Devon, with “little Billy” and “little Barbara”. Despite Billy’s advances she is determined to keep her knickers on until they are married. The film starred Tom Courtenay and Helen Fraser. (48) Rita is a hard, brassy girl, determined to recover the ring given her by Billy, and secretly passed by him to Barbara.
Liz is a free spirit, amused by Billy’s lies, but unconvinced by them. She tries unsuccessfully to persuade Billy to leave home, and leave his fantasies behind, to succeed in the much bigger world of cosmopolitan London. In the film, Liz was played by the delectable Julie Christie (49).
The author, Keith Waterhouse, had been a local journalist and, through Billy, he mocks its comfortable self-congratulatory writing, particularly in a column called, “Man o’ the Dales”. Yorkshire is a big county and much of it consists of beautiful green fields with drystone walls and pretty stone villages. The valleys are locally called “dales” and “The Yorkshire Dales” were then, and are now, a national tourist attraction.
“‘The very name of Stradhoughton,’ Man o’ the Dales had written, ‘conjures up sturdy buildings of honest native stone, gleaming cobbled streets, and that brackish air which gives this corner of Yorkshire its own especial piquancy.’ Man o’ the Dales put piquancy in italics, not me.
My No. 1 thinking often featured long sessions with Man o’ the Dales and there I would put him right on his facts. The cobbled streets, gleaming or otherwise, had long ago been ripped up with the tramlines, and relined with concrete slabs or gleaming tar–macadam.
The brackish air smelled of burning paint. As for the honest native stone, our main street, Moorgate, was exactly like any other High Street in Great Britain. Woolworth’s looked like Woolworth’s, the Odeon looked like the Odeon, and the Stradhoughton Echo’s own office, looked like a public lavatory in honest native white tile. I had a fairly passionate set-piece all worked out on the subject of rugged Yorkshire towns, with their rugged neon signs and their rugged plate-glass and rugged plastic shop-fronts.”
Surprisingly, Yorkshire preserves the speech patterns of several centuries ago. In illustration, here is a simple piece of advice given by a father to his teenage son. “Sithee, Richard, if tha ever does owt wi’ watter, tha mun allus turn thee watter off, else tha’ll be in a reet tekkin’.” If we begin the deconstruction by removing the contractions, and dialect spellings, we get a genuine antique.
“See thou, Richard, if thou ever does ought with water, thou must always turn thy water off, or else thou wilt be in a right taking.”
In modern Standard English, “Look, Richard, if you ever do anything with water (pipes), you must always turn the water off, (at the mains) or else you will be in a real mess.”
Billy and his workmate, Arthur Crabtree, have worked up a routine together, as a pair of elderly men reminiscing in a cod Yorkshire dialect.
“The outer door-bell tinkled, and Councillor Duxbury crossed the floor to his own office with an old man’s shuffle, and muttered: `Morning, lads.’
We chanted, half-dutifully, half-ironically: ‘Good morning, Councillor Duxbury,’ and directly the door was closed, began our imitation of him. ‘It’s Councillor Duxbury, lad, Councillor Duxbury. Tha wun’t call Lord Harewood mister, would tha? Councillor, that’s mah title. Now think on.’
`Ah’m just about thraiped,’ said Arthur in broad dialect. The word was one we had made up to use in the Yorkshire dialect routine, where we took the Michael out of Councillor Duxbury and people like him. Duxbury prided himself on his dialect which was practically unintelligible even to seasoned Yorkshiremen.
`Tha’s getten more bracken ivvery day, lad,’ I said. `Aye, an’ fair scritten anall,’ said Arthur.
`Tha mun laik wi’t’ gangling-iron.’
We swung into the other half of the routine, which was Councillor Duxbury remembering, as he did every birthday in an interview with the Stradhoughton Echo. Arthur screwed up his face into the lined old man’s wrinkles and said
`Course, all this were fields when I were a lad.’
Every Saturday night I did a club turn down at one of the pubs in Clogiron Lane. It was a comedy act, a slow-burning, Yorkshire monologue that was drummed up mainly by Arthur and me at these sessions in the office.”
Unlike the book, the film of “Billy Liar” makes much more of Billy’s imaginary fantasy land of Ambrosia, where he is freedom fighter, Prime Minister, President, as whimsy dictated. This is probably because it lends itself to exciting visual images. (51)
“No flag flew more proudly than the tattered blue star of the Ambrosian Federation, the standard we had carried into battle. One by one the regiments marched past, and when they had gone – the Guards, the Parachute Regiment, the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry – a hush fell over the crowds and they removed their hats for the proud remnants of the Ambrosian Grand Yeomanry. We limped along as we had arrived from the battlefield, the mud still on our shredded uniforms, but with a proud swing to our kilts. The band played ‘March of the Movies’. The war memorial was decked with blue poppies, the strange bloom found only in Ambrosia.”
8 Breakfast at Tiffany’s ……………………….Truman Capote ………………………………………..1958
I find it rather sad, that when a novel is made into a highly successful film, it can so totally overshadow everything, that no one wants to read the book any more. Those of us who had read the book long before the film was made, can feel smugly superior as we see what the film makers have made of it.
This was true of “Billy Liar” but is even more true of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Incredibly, this novella is less than a hundred pages long. This should be an encouragement to all budding writers; you don’t need write a six hundred page doorstop to make your name and a large pile of cash; just a hundred pages will do. Perhaps you need to be Truman Capote to manage this.
The book title is, perhaps, an important hook. “Tiffany” is a large, expensive, and consequently exclusive, jewellery shop in New York. It does not provide breakfasts. The heroine of the story, Holly Golightly, played in the film by Audrey Hepburn, (52) explains to the narrator:
‘It’s like Tiffany’s,’ she said. ‘Not that I give a hoot about jewellery. Diamonds, yes. But it’s tacky to wear diamonds before you’re forty; and even that’s risky. They only look right on the really old girls. Maria Ouspenskaya. Wrinkles and bones, white hair and diamonds: I can’t wait. But that’s not why I’m mad about Tiffany’s. Listen. You know those days when you’ve got the mean reds?’
`Same as the blues?’
`No,’ she said slowly. ‘No, the blues are because you’re getting fat or maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re sad, that’s all. But the mean reds are horrible. You’re afraid and you sweat like hell, but you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Except something bad is going to happen; only you don’t know what it is. You’ve had that feeling?’
`Quite often. Some people call it angst.’
`All right. Angst. But what do you do about it?’
`Well, a drink helps.’
`I’ve tried that. What I’ve found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany’s. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets.
One of the more incredible aspects of the novella, and the success of the film, is the reality of Holly Golightly’s profession. She is a prostitute, and a friend of dangerous criminals. True, she is a high-grade call-girl, (“good-time girl”, as the Penguin edition euphemistically describes her) and not a street-walker, but her income and gifts derive from prostitution and conveying messages from jailed criminals to their associates.
What redeems the situation is the narrator’s staggering discovery of Holly’s origins. She has successfully re-invented herself as a New York sophisticate, but she is a country girl from the Texas backwoods. The narrator is followed through Central Park by a man trying to catch his attention.
“Hamburg Heaven was empty. Nevertheless, he took a seat right beside me at the long counter. He smelled of tobacco and sweat.
`Excuse me,’ I said, but what do you want?’
The question didn’t embarrass him; he seemed relieved to have had it asked.
‘Son,’ he said, ‘I need a friend.’
He brought out a wallet. It was as worn as his leathery hands, and so was the brittle, cracked, blurred snapshot he handed me. There were seven people in the picture, all grouped together on the sagging porch of a stark wooden house, and all children, except for the man himself, who had his arm around the waist of a plump blonde little girl with a hand shading her eyes against the sun.
`That’s me,’ he said, pointing at himself. ‘That’s her…’ he tapped the plump girl.
I looked at ‘her’ again: and yes, now I could see it, an embryonic resemblance to Holly in the squinting, fat-cheeked child. At the same moment, I realized who the man must be.
`You’re Holly’s father.’
He blinked, he frowned.
‘Her name’s not Holly. She was Lulamae Barnes. Was,’ he said, shifting the toothpick in his mouth, ’till she married me. I’m her husband. Doc Golightly. I’m a horse doctor, farming, too, near Tulip, Texas. I’ve been five years lookin’ for my woman. Soon as I got that letter, saying where she was, I bought myself a ticket on the Greyhound. Lulamae belongs home with her husband and her churren.’
`Them’s her churren,’ he said, almost shouted. He meant the four other young faces in the picture, two barefooted girls and a pair of overalled boys.
‘But Holly can’t be the mother of those children. They’re older than she is. Bigger.’
‘Now, son,’ he said in a reasoning voice, ‘I didn’t claim they was her natural-born churren. Their own precious mother, precious woman, Jesus rest her soul, she passed away.
Could anyone blame poor Lulamae from escaping child marriage and the servitude it entailed, to re-invent herself as Holly, the New York sophisticate?
I close with a small anecdote about making the excellent film of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Towards the end of the production process, at a meeting, one of the suits objected to the sound-track of Audrey Hepburn huskily singing the theme tune, “Moon River” (53).
“She can’t sing very well, and she ain’t too good on the guitar.”
No one could be bothered to explain to him, that Audrey’s weaknesses were part of her charm, and vulnerability. Had they dubbed a proper soprano it would be just another song. They noted his objections, wisely ignored them and went ahead regardless. We have been left with a soundtrack and theme song which perfectly encapsulates this beautiful Truman Capote novella.
The author, Truman Capote, was born, Truman Streckfus Persons, in New Orleans in 1924. He had a seriously troubled childhood. His mother was only 17 when he was born, and his parents divorced when he was four. He was separated from his mother for several years, and was brought up by her relatives, but fortunately, he formed a strong and lifelong attachment with an elderly female relative he called, “Sook”. At the age of nine, his mother married again and her businessman husband, Joseph Capote, had the boy re-named, Truman Garcia Capote. They moved from the South to a well-to-do address in Park Avenue, New York City. After Joseph Capote was convicted of embezzlement they were forced to live a much poorer lifestyle.
Truman Capote was a precociously intelligent child who began writing early. He specialised in short stories, and the success of “Miriam” in 1945, when he was twenty-one, led to a contract to write further novels. His major work, a semi-documentary about a Kansas murder, “In Cold Blood”, was published in 1970 when he was 56, but it proved to be his last novel. Much of the rest of his life was spent as a TV celebrity, and in writing magazine articles. He was something of a fantasist about aspects of his own life, and those of others. He was a homosexual who never married or had children. His later years were harmed by alcoholism and drug abuse, leading to his death in Bel Air, Los Angeles, in 1984 at the age of 59 from liver cancer.
REFERENCES AND ILLUSTRATIONS
1. Tapestry of “Christ in Majesty”, Coventry Cathedral, designed by Graham Sutherland (google image)
2. “Francis Bacon”, a portrait by Ruskin Spear (google image)
3. Norman knight of the eleventh century (After a google image)
4. “Bodiam Castle in the morning mist” a painting by Alan Mason (Author, acrylic on board)
5. The Gatehouse of Battle Abbey, Sussex (“Treasures of Britain” edited by John Julius Norwich, Everyman, 2002)
6. Two Norman knights from the Bayeux Tapestry (“Knights of the Crusades” Jay Williams, Cassell, 1962)
7. Antioch, the modern city on the River Orontes (bible places.com)
8. Alfred Duggan, writer, 1903-1964 (“Knight with Armour”, Penguin Books, 1959)
9. Queen Guenevere (Julie Andrews) and King Arthur (Richard Harris) in “Camelot” (google image)
10. Medieval Scholar’s Desk and Chair (After “Medieval Life”, by Andrew Langley, Dorling Kindersley, 1996)
11. Mariners’ Astrolabe from about 1585 (“Encyclopedia of Ships and Seafaring” edited by Peter Kemp, Reference International, 1980)
12. Three kinds of hawks kept in the mews of the Castle (“A Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe” by Roger Peterson et al, Collins, 1954)
13. Two versions of the old magician, Merlyn (google images)
14. The Wild Boar (“Animal Kingdom” edited by Belinda Gallagher, Miles Kelly Publishing, 2000)
15. “December”, the boar hunt ends with the kill, (From the 15 C “Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry” The Book of Hours of the Duke of Berry, facsimile editor Edmond Pognon, Liber, 1979-1983)
16. Terence Hanbury White, writer, 1906-1964 (google image)
17. A bronze head of T H White (google image)
18. Empires in the 19 C (Author)
19. The Taj Mahal, India (“501 Must Visit Destinations” Editor Emma Beare, Bounty, 2006)
20. The nations of the Indian NW Frontier (Author)
21. British Cavalfy on the Grand Trunk Road (google image)
22. The Attock Fort above the River Indus (google image)
23. Bloodstains on the rock, saying “Atlar” horses (Author, from several images)
24. The Tajikistan Pamirs (google image)
25. The interior of the Hüyük Khan caravanserai in Nicosia, North Cyprus (Author)
26. John Masters, soldier and writer, 1914 – 1983 (From the cover of “The Lotus and the Wind” Penguin, 1956)
27. Christ’s College, Cambridge (google image)
28. Rear of Christ’s College Gatehouse under snow (Author, after google image)
29. The Heraldic Arms of Christ’s College (Author)
30. The Dining Hall of Christ’s College, with High Table and alumni portraits at the far end (google image)
31. Charles Darwin, the most famous scholar of Christ’s College (google image)
32. Laboratories of the Thirties, top, physical chemistry, lower, for general chemistry (google images)
33. Sir Charles Snow, scientist, academic and writer, 1905-1980 (google image)
34. Film Poster (google image)
35. St Aloysius Anglo-Indian High School, established 1847 (google image)
36. Cap Badge of the Women’s Army Corps, India (google image)
37. Boats, crews wearing solar topis (“History of the First World War”, Purnell, 1970)
38. Indian Railways (google images)
39. Firebox and boiler tubes of a steam locomotive (“The Pictorial Encyclopaedia” editor Richard Haddon, Sampson Low, no date)
40. Overcrowding on the Indian Railways (google images)
41. Book Cover 1961 (personal copy)
42. The Old Grammar School, St Paul’s St., Stamford, Lincolnshire (“The Story of Stamford” Martin Smith, 1994)
43. St John’s College, Cambridge, (“Cambridge”, Colormaster Series, undated)
44. “Redbrick” Kingsley Amis taught here at Swansea University for twelve years (1949-1961) (google images)
45. Kingsley Amis, writer, 1922-1995 (google images)
46. Book Cover, 1959 (personal copy)
47. “Hillcrest” as seen in the film of “Billy Liar” (google images)
48. Billy (Tom Courtenay) and Barbara (Helen Fraser) (google images)
49. Julie Christie plays “Liz” (google images)
50. Billy and Arthur make up a dialect double-act (Tom Courtenay and Rodney Bewes) (google images)
51. William Fisher, the hero of the Ambrosian struggle for independence (google images)
52. Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly (google images)
53. At Tiffany’s with a light breakfast (google images)
54. Audrey plays guitar (google images)
55. Truman Capote, writer, 1924 – 1984 (google images)