It is curious that in the retelling of a dangerous situation the explanation is often made to include a premonition of the disaster. Whereas, in truth, most accidents strike like a viper of lightening from an apparently clear blue sky. It is as though human beings like to pump up the importance of a near escape or even a catastrophe by placing the hand of destiny at the helm of calamity.
Do you know why the English managed to conquer half the globe? Because they were so bloody stupid! Some half-witted lord jumped up in a general’s uniform would simply advance on a position and expend men, he didn’t care, they were only yeomen and slum slush, cannon fodder. He just kept sending them in and so help me they kept on going, until eventually he won. You call that bravery? I call that two things, murder and stupidity. The generals murdered their men and the men were too stupid to resist.
“When something goes right for a team everything feels easy, so it automatically goes even better. But if you can cause a bit of trouble for them, only a very little bit, you’ll soon see that they manage to create a lot more trouble for themselves.” It’s about balance. The slightest puff of wind can be all it takes.
A long marriage is complicated. So complicated, in fact, that most people in one sometimes ask themselves: “Am I still married because I’m in love, or just because I can’t be bothered to let anyone else get to know me this well again?”
She’s ashamed to admit it to herself, but getting to work feels like a liberation. She knows she’s good at her job, and she never feels that way about being a parent. Even on the best days—the tiny shimmering moments when they’re on holiday and Peter and the children are fooling about on a beach and everyone is happy and laughing—Kira always feels like a fake. As if she doesn’t deserve it, as if she just wants to be able to show a photoshopped family photograph to the rest of the world.
And now here he was, a forty-one-year-old man in his “study,” how pretentious, at his desk, at his computer, checking his email and going over his “notes” and he picked up the phone and he wanted to be in the mode that was the person he would have been if
After the festivities ended, however, as he and his parents were on their way home in the blue car, he was caught by surprise when his mother started bad-mouthing Uncle Lew to his father. He couldn’t follow everything she said, but the anger in her voice was unusually harsh, a bitter harangue that seemed to have something to do with his uncle owing his father money, and how dare Lew splurge on Cadillacs and mink coats before paying his father back. His father took it calmly at first, but then he raised his voice, which was something that almost never happened, and suddenly he was barking at Ferguson’s mother to stop, telling her that Lew didn’t owe him anything, that it was his brother’s money and he could do anything he goddamned pleased with it. Ferguson knew his parents sometimes argued (he could hear their voices through the wall of their bedroom), but this was the first time they had fought a battle in front of him, and because it was the first time, he couldn’t help feeling that something fundamental about the world had changed.
‘Look,’ said Esther, ‘ I don’t know how to explain this, I know quite well that Claudio knows he hasn’t seen a werewolf or spoken to a witch, but that so great is his power of — well, of what? of self-hallucination that he can persuade himself that he might have done? No, not even that. He knows he hasn’t. But —’ and Esther glanced at Liz in anxiety, in embarrassment, for never in all their years of close friendship had she ever made such a confession ‘ — the thing is, when I’m with Claudio, I find myself believing these things myself. It’s as though I know I’d better believe them. that, when I’m with him, it’s safer to believe them. Does that make any kind of sense at all?
Of course they should divorce. She had often thought of it herself, had once or twice in low or high moments suggested it. But was nevertheless outraged, outraged, that the suggestion should have come from Charles. Had he meant it? Yes, he had meant it, she had no doubt. It was up to her, quickly, to forge herself a manner that would give her an advantage in whatever negotiations were to come: and she had done so by the time he came down for breakfast.
The school had learned to its cost that you cannot unite a thousand children under one Latin tag (school code: Laborare est Orare, To Labor is to Pray); kids are like pissing cats or burrowing moles, marking off land within land, each section with its own rules, beliefs, laws of engagement. Despite every attempt to suppress it, the school contained and sustained patches, hangouts, disputed territories, satellite states, states of emergency, ghettos, enclaves, islands. There were no maps, but common sense told you, for example, not to fuck with the area between the garbage cans and the craft department. There had been casualties there.
“It’s just that he loses control sometimes. As soon as he gets the business established again, and gets back to work, you know how he loves to work, he’ll be fine. The drinking is only temporary—it’s like medicine for him, like he has a terrible headache and needs to anesthetize himself, you can sympathize with that, Judd, can’t you? We might be the same way in his place. He’s a good, decent man who only wants to provide for his family. He’s told me how sorry he is, and he’d tell you except—well, you know how he is, how men are. He loves you no matter what he says or does, you know that don’t you?
Everything is always comparative in another country. Crooks are crookeder, grass is greener, heights are higher, words are wordier, pleasures are more pleasurable, death is deader, life is livelier, dogs are doggier, fortune is more fortunate, vaults more vaulted, distance is further, water more watery, blue is bluer, grey is greyer, fame more famous, continuance more continuing, consumers more consumed, reality more real, fantasy more fantastic, adjustments more adjusted, fires more fiery, chaos more chaotic… I mean to say…
Everywhere, every year there is weather described as unusual, not by the visitors but by those who know best, the inhabitants.
Coast to coast, most Americans would not be sure that war was still on, that we were still there, that men and women like Jeremy were still fighting and dying, that Afghans were still fighting and dying too.
Any given year you should expect certain things. You can expect to see some horrifying act of terror, for example. A new beheading of a man in orange is a shock and will make you want to never leave the house, but not if you have budgeted for it. A new mass shooting in a mall or school can cripple you for a day but not if you’ve budgeted for it. That’s this month’s shooting, you can say. And if there isn’t a shooting that month, all the better. You’ve come out ahead on the ledger. You have a surplus. A refund.
I’ll never have a past never had
If I could go deaf and dumb I think I might pant on to be a hundred.
I think Effie is going to commit adultery with the Major.
The cruel fact remains that the twelve thirty has not yet arrived (Oh darling mother!)
There was a moment there, I remember now, I was so plunged in sorrow I wouldn’t have heard a steam roller go over me.
Oh, mother, you’ve squashed her, drive on, drive on!
Speak for yourself. I am not alive nor anything approaching it.
I saved his life once. I have not forgotten it.
The back! The chain! The oil! The grease! The hub! The brakes! The gear! No! It is too much!
He wants me to go to the zoo because the animals are real. I told him these are zoo animals. These are animals that live in the Bronx. On television I can see animals in the rain forest or the desert. So which is real and which is fake, which made him laugh.
A man sat in a corner chair in a living room set with a coffee table in front of him and books or covers of books arrayed on the wall behind.
I watched TV in my motel.