Thursday, February 8, 2018

the last book I ever read (George Orwell's Coming Up For Air, excerpt eight)

from Coming Up For Air by George Orwell:

I got to a spot where the grass beside the road was smothered in primroses. A patch of clayey soil, perhaps. Twenty yards farther on I slowed down and stopped. The weather was too good to miss. I felt I’d got to get out and have a smell at the spring air, and perhaps even pick a few primroses if there was nobody coming. I even had some vague notion of picking a bunch of them to take home to Hilda.

I switched the engine off and got out. I never like leaving the old car running in neutral, I’m always half afraid she’ll shake her mudguards off or something. She’s a 1927 model, and she’s done a biggish mileage. When you lift the bonnet and look at the engine it reminds you of the old Austrian Empire, all tied together with bits of string but somehow keeps plugging along. You wouldn’t believe any machine could vibrate in so many directions at once. It’s like the motion of the earth, which has twenty-two different kinds of wobble, or so I remember reading. If you look at her from behind when she’s running in neutral it’s for all the world like watching one of those Hawaiian girls dancing the hula-hula.

There was a five-barred gate beside the road. I strolled over and leaned across it. Not a soul in sight. I hitched my hat back a bit to get the kind of balmy feeling of the air against my forehead. The grass under the hedge was full of primroses. Just inside the gate a tramp or somebody had left the remains of a fire. A little pile of white embers, and a wisp of smoke still oozing out of them. Farther along there was a little bit of a pool, covered over with duckweed. The field was winter wheat. It sloped up sharply, and then there was a fall of chalk and a little beech spinney. A kind of mist of young leaves on the trees. And utter stillness everywhere. Not even enough wind to stir the ashes of the fire. A lark singing somewhere, otherwise not a sound, not even an aeroplane.

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