Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Kindly Ones - post III

Turning back to The Dance... is like picking up an old family photographic album, the ones full of black and white photos held in with gummed triangular edges, reading about how Freddy and Charlotte enjoyed the beach at Brighton in 1921. The only place I ever remember coming across that is the cloakroom at Claridges where the old family photographs made you feel even more alienated from a five star world, but even keener to rub your nose up against the window and peer inside. The difference with Powell is that he lets you come in and sit quietly and watch.

As the threat of war moves closer the party at Sir Donners is spoilt by the arrival of Widmerpool in uniform and unlike the anticipation of 1914 there is distaste at the reminder of death and destruction.

Although Templer and Widmerpool are echoes from the Jenkins past the friendship that appears to be one of the strongest is with the musician Moreland. Although they seem to go years without seeing each other there is something very similar between them - married at toughly the same time and one a man of music with the other a man of letters. When it comes to that other original old friend Stringham there is complete silence.

But before the story can move into full-blown pre-war preparations there is a family bereavement in the form of Uncle Giles finally dying. As he picks through his belongings Nick Jenkins finds his original commission from the Queen, hence his title of Captain Jenkins. For the first time seriously he ponders on his own possible fate as a solider. Something more poignant against the background of his wife expecting a child.

More tomorrow…

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