Monday, January 17, 2011

Foretold : Mood (Beginning of Henry Green's unfinished second novel, c. 1926)

She walks down Oxford Street.

When she heard that high, loud educated voice she saw the Blue Train where it was so much in evidence, then the boat where was no sound of it throughout the crossing, and the English Pullman where it again triumphed, crying:  My dear I went to sleep before the boat started and didn't wake up till my maid told me we were in.  My dear, that same voice said, what people want is to lie naked in the sun and that drives everyone further south to where it's all unknown.   There was that same kind of voice, here in Oxford Street, this time proclaiming: The most lovely sponge.  She looked and there was that same kind of woman coming out of a shop. -- A most lovely sponge which -- and then several buses cut short its price and the story of how that sponge was bought.  She wondered where that woman bought her sponges. One shouldn't go just anywhere for one's sponge.  For what is a sponge, -- and this she felt but did not think.  Why it is picked from the sea, it is cleaned and dried, perhaps a lot of things are done to it perhaps nothing very much.  Perhaps a little salt is left in it.  Here she sailed.  For, when she heard that woman talk, so she remembered the clatter of knives and forks, the absolute roar of chasses and good living and she remembered how, in the Pullman, she had longed to be in a restaurant again where it was famous and lots of people you knew.  She said no I will never go abroad again unless I go with a thousand people, it's really too squalid there being just three or four of you.  The sea and everything, it just won't do, she said, if there isn't a whole crowd one knows.  It's like going when you're by yourself and turning on the gramophone.  Or like a sponge in the water in an empty bath.

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