Dare I say it but you start to feel sympathy for Widmerpool. The young cult leader Scorpio bullies him and at a meeting with Jenkins at a wedding he reveals he has been forced to atone for previous moments of aggression with deeds of penance. You can only guess at what they are but in a moment when Widmerpool attempts to apologise to an old acquaintance for the things he did wrong by falling prostrate at his feet it gives you some idea.
Add to that the nudity, sense of the distance from the House of Lords to a house full of blue robe wearing harmony seeking cultists and the fall of Widmerpool is complete.
Jenkins remains detached as he has done all through but you wonder what he real feels as his old acquaintance who has shadowed his life ends literally begging in public to leave the cult and being bullied into heading back for more penance and punishment.
Powell is able to use father time to start to sweep up the numerous characters as most fall to old age and those that are left become increasingly obsessed with their health and immobile. Yet for all of that there is remarkably little reminiscing on the part of Jenkins. Others, Stringham’s Aunt for instance, are happy to talk about the past and try to draw some summaries but for the narrator it is simply a question of watching and recording.
Even when Gwinnet turns up and leaves the story with a bride clinging to his arm it gets the same straight commentary as the battle to protect his local stone-age monument from a local quarry expansion.
I am going to miss being able to look into this world when it is gone, which looks like being tomorrow…