Monday, August 16, 2010

Not quite

No, I'm not done for the day yet. I am reading today, I'm reading Going Home and this is a passage i particularly like:

"The drum beat all through the nights of my childhood stronger even than the frogs and the crickets, ultimately stronger even than the piano, for when I woke in the morning with the sun standing over the chrome mountain, a single, tired, indefatigable drum was still tapping down the hill. And there came a time when my mother could not trouble to get the piano tuned.
But waking in the house near the railway lines, sweating with heat, half-sick with the sweet smell of the decaying fruit and the vegetation outside, it was to see Cynthia and her mother standing together in the corner of the room, hands folded, heads bent in prayer. Then, with a deadly look at her husband Mrs. Millar would say in her womanly resigned voice, 'You can't have bacon and eggs - not on what you earn.'
I was badly homesick. I hated that house. I longed for my cool, humorous, stoical mother, who might sentimentally play Chopin, but would afterwards slam down the piano lid with a flat: "Well, that's that. I wanted, too, to lay certain questions before my father.
When I got home I went in search of him, managed to distract his attention from whatever philosophical problem was engaging him at the time, and remarked that I had had a lovely time at the Millars'.
'That's good,' he said, and gave me a long, sideways look.
'They have grace before every meal,' I said.
'Good lord,' he said.
'Mr. Millar goes to the bar every night and comes home drunk, and Mrs. Millar prays for his soul.'
'Does she now?'
There was a pause, for I was very uncomfortable.
'Well,' he said, 'what is it?'
'Mrs. Millar came to the verandah one morning and said in a loud voice to Cynthia...'
'Cynthia? Who's she?'
'Of course you know, she's been here to stay.'
'Has she? I suppose so. Lord, you don't mean that girl -- very well, go on.'
'She said in a loud voice to Cynthia, "I've been praying Cynthia. O Cynthia, our horrible, horrible bodies!"'
I was hot all over. Never had anything made me as uncomfortable and wretched as that moment. But my father had shot me a startled look and gone red. He struggled for a moment, then dropped his head on the chair-back and laughed.
I said: 'It wasn't funny. It made me sick.'
'Lord, lord, lord,' said my father, lifting his head to give me an apologetic, embarrassed look between roars. 'Lord, I can see the old hen.'
'Very well,' I said, and walked away with dignity.
I was furious at him for laughing; I had known he would laugh. I had come home a week earlier than was arranged to hear that laugh. And so I was able to put that unpleasant household behind me and forget it. My father could always be relied on in these matters.

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