LOOK BACK IN ANGER by JOHN OSBORNE
Nobody thinks, nobody cares. No beliefs, no convictions and no enthusiasm. Just another Sunday evening. Perhaps there's a concert on. Ah. Make some more tea. Oh yes. There's a Vaughan Williams. Well, that's something, anyway. Something strong, something simple, something English. I suppose people like me aren't supposed to be very patriotic. Somebody said - what was it - we get our cooking from Paris (that's a laugh), our politics from Moscow, and our morals from Port Said. Something like that anyway. Who was it? Well you wouldn't know anyway. I hate to admit it, but I think I can understand how her Daddy must have felt when he came back from India, after all those years away. The old Edwardian brigade do make their brief little world look pretty tempting. All home-made cakes and croquet, bright ideas, bright uniforms. Always the same picture: high summer, the long days in the sun, slim volumes of verse, crisp linen, the smell of starch. What a romantic picture. Phoney too, of course. It must have rained sometimes. Still, even I regret it sometimes, phoney or not. If you've no world of your own, it's rather pleasant to regret the passing of someone else's. I must be getting sentimental. But I must say it's pretty dreary living in the American Age - unless you're an American of course. Perhaps all our children will be Americans. That's a thought, isn't it.
Have you ever seen her brother? Brother Nigel? The straight-backed, chinless wonder from Sandhurst? I only met him once myself. He asked me to step outside when I told his mother she was evil-minded.
And did you?
Certainly not, he's a big chap. Well, you've never heard so many well-bred commonplaces come from beneath the same bowler hat. The Platitude from Outer Space - that's brother Nigel. He'll end up in the Cabinet one day, make no mistake. But somewhere at the back of his mind is the vague knowledge that he and his pals have been plundering and fooling everybody for generations. Now Nigel is just about as vague as you can get without actually being invisible. And invisible politicians aren't much use to anyone - not even to his supporters! And nothing is more vague about Nigel than his knowledge. His knowledge of life and ordinary human beings is so hazy, he really deserves some sort of decoration for it - a medal inscribed "For Vaguery in the field". But it wouldn't do for him to be troubled by any stabs of conscience, however vague. Besides, he is a patriot and an Englishman, and he doesn't like the idea that he may have been selling out his countrymen all these years, so what does he do? The only thing he can do - seek sanctuary in his own stupidity. The only way to keep things as much like they have always been as possible, is to make any alternative too much for our tiny, poor brain to grasp. It takes some doing nowadays. It really does. But they knew all about character building at Nigel's school, and he'll make it all right. Don't you worry, he'll make it. And, what's more, he'll do it better than anybody else!
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But why should he have married you, feeling as he did about everything?
That is the famous American question - you know, the sixty-four dollar one! Perhaps it was revenge. Oh yes. Some people do actually marry for revenge. People like Jimmy anyway. Or perhaps he should have been another Shelley and he can't understand why I'm not another Mary, and you're not William Godwin. He thinks he's got a sort of genius for love and friendship - on his own terms. Well, for twenty years, I'd lived a happy, uncomplicated life, and, suddenly, this - this spiritual barbarian - throws down the gauntlet at me. Perhaps only another woman could understand what a challenge like that means - although I think Helena was as mystified as you are.
I am mystified. Your husband has obviously taught you a great deal, whether you realise it or not. What any of it means, I don't know. I always believed that people married for love. That always seemed a good enough reason to me. But apparently that's too simple for young people nowadays. They have to talk about challenges and revenge. I just can't believe that love between men and women is really like that.
Only some men and women.
But why you? My daughter ...No. Perhaps Jimmy is right. Perhaps I am a - what was it? an old plant left over from the Edwardian Wilderness. And I can't quite understand why the sun isn't shining any more. You can see what he means, can't you? It was March, 1914, when I left England, and apart from leaves every ten years or so, I didn't see much of my own country until we all came back in '47. Oh, I knew things had changed, of course. People told you all the time the way it was going - going to the dogs, as the Blimps are supposed to say. But it seemed very unreal to me, out there. The England I remembered was the one I left in 1914, and I was happy to go on remembering it that way. Besides I had the Maharajah's army to command - that was my world and I loved it, all of it. At the time it looked like going on forever. When I think of it now, it seems like a dream. If only it could have gone on forever. Those long, cool evenings up in the hills, everything purple and golden. Your mother and I were so happy then. It seemed as though we had everything we could ever want. I think the last day the sun shone was when that dirty little train steamed out of that crowded, suffocating Indian station, and the battalion band playing for all it was worth. I knew in my heart it was all over then. Everything.
You're hurt because everything is changed. Jimmy is hurt because everything is the same. And neither of you can face it. Something's gone wrong somewhere, hasn't it?