But unpacking one of the cartons I came across my 'favourite books' – which surprised me somewhat (just like a list of ex-fucks you enjoyed light years ago but have buried in the present): Gorky, Lermontov. Then Anthony Powell. It was a very cheap paperback, a reissue of a reissue. It's one of those ones with a sort of gawky, not entirely convincing drawing on the cover by Marc. I never bought into Powell being an English Proust but he does have an easy conversational style (would one call it a drawl?)
I opened the cover. I was in a newly created room in our house. Our house is a Victorian villa of quite some size. Like so many of these villas they presented glorious tiaras to the road. But the rear of the house, where the laundry and toilets were put, were often the sunniest rooms. The laundry in our house got morning and afternoon sun and on a bitingly cold winter's day you could lay your hand on the old brass taps and they would be warm.
This room has been made into what I call 'the cubbyhole'. It has a single bed, a desk, a leather-clad chair left by the American troops in the 1940s … and bookshelves. Our two cats immediately made it into their day room. I read the opening sentence … 'Once in a way, perhaps as often as every eighteen months, an invitation to Sunday afternoon tea at the Ufford would arrive on a postcard addressed in Uncle Giles neat, constricted handwriting.'
I lay down to be more comfortable. The bed was sweet, the pillows soft. I began reading…
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