He said suddenly: ‘Have you read Chaucer's Man of Lawe's Tale?’, ‘The Man of Lawe's Tale? ‘Quart pots on the top shelf, Effie!’ shouted the landlord over his shoulder, from the other side of the bar. He stood behind her, took hold of her small firm shoulders, then slid a hand inside her coat and felt the warmth of her breast. Have your fun and then sneak home, juice of the forbidden fruit dripping from your whiskers, and take the consequences. She had recovered herself quickly, as she always did. Presently, when they were alone, in some hidden place in the warm, windless air, he would have her naked body all for his own at last. You set your face against success, you swear never to Make Good — you honestly believe that you couldn't Make Good even if you wanted to; and then something happens along, some mere chance, and you find yourself Making Good almost automatically. He had only expected ten pounds for fifty dollars. Everyone at the office says so. It always costs about the same.’, ‘But they hate you doing that. He could just manage two and nine. After only three days he gave it up. His sexual disappointment still pricked him. You could have cooked a meal in it here and now. Before we go in, I wanted —’. He would be a law-abiding little cit like any other law-abiding little cit — a soldier in the strap-hanging army. To have played a trick like that on him! Women, women! But it was a poor weedy specimen — indeed, it was obviously dying. 264 Previews . Julia who had been sacrificed to him all her life, from whom he had borrowed pound after pound after pound; and now he hadn't even the decency to keep her five intact! He rolled over and said sleepily, ‘Hullo?’ Gordon came in, a dishevelled figure almost lost in the borrowed silk pyjamas. Bed-sitting-rooms, with gaslight laid on and find your own heating, baths extra (there was a geyser), and meals in the tomb-dark dining-room with the phalanx of clotted sauce-bottles in the middle of the table. She hadn't written after all! Very well, then, he would refuse the whole business of ‘succeeding’; he would make it his especial purpose not to ‘succeed’. I'm thirty, and moth-eaten at that.’, ‘Don't be so absurd, Gordon! You know.’ But Gordon had never yet encountered anybody who did know. At the angle of the stairs he halted, listened a moment longer. Men, bottles, mirrors were going round and round. It was as though his desire had called her into being. ‘We must settle what we're going to drink first,’ he said. Ah! I want an indecent place. The commissionaire knew Ravelston, of course. They passed into the library, highbrow to highbrow smiling. The couplet would have to go. Walpole we know, and Hichens we read, but Hemingway, who are you? A tribe of cadgers ranging from poets to pavement-artists browsed upon him unceasingly. The film stars Richard E. Grant and Helena Bonham Carter. ‘Of course not, silly! It's physically impossible.’. He had foreseen all this, of course. Lovely, its red-blue heart! Ravelston did not matter, because Ravelston understood. He had a feeling that if you genuinely despise money you can keep going somehow, like the birds of the air. Mrs Penn's bright bird-eye lighted upon it. Medoc or St Julien or something,’ said Ravelston. Gordon found himself manufacturing special witticisms for her benefit. This was Monday and he had five and ninepence left. She had had such hopes of Gordon. He seemed to be the kind of person who will cheat you if he can, and bully you if you give him the chance, but who will also regard you with a contemptuous good-humour. And no sooner it is over than the whole subject is out of his mind. Eight hundred slabs of pudding, walling him in — a vault of puddingstone. Black Maria leaves at half past nine.’. After ten minutes in any shop he would grow uneasy, feel himself de trop, and take to flight, having bought something out of sheer nervousness. ‘What's yours?’ he said casually. It was almost the first thing he had thought of when the cheque came. Moreover, in those seven months he wrote practically nothing. After all, what do you achieve by refusing to make money? Perhaps it is the only real religion — the only really felt religion — that is left to us. Dash it, what a thing to say! Now then, Dora, up we go! Below were little skinny legs, twisted like a monkey's with the toes turned in. That's what I came here to ask you.’, ‘But I suppose you want me to marry you, don't you?’, ‘Not unless you want to. He might as well have dropped a card on Buckingham Palace. But it differed from the police station cell in being repulsively dirty. ‘Come up, won't you?’ he said without conviction. There's a peach for you!’. Even the most secret action of your life you don't escape it; you've still got to spoil everything with filthy cold-blooded precautions for money's sake. The sods! There were not less than three hundred of them in the library. This was not the time or the place. No fish.’, ‘Nor any sweet to follow, sare? At this moment he became aware of a lace cap, some dark hair, and a pair of youthful eyes regarding him furtively from the basement of the house next door. Ah! Besides, it was a bit of himself — it was himself. Then we would have all day together. This one, for instance.’. ‘So that's why you're all dolled up, is it?’ said Gordon, looking coldly at Flaxman's yellow gloves. But with Gordon it was different. THE plumes of the chimneys floated perpendicular against skies of smoky rose. ‘It's only a step.’. Their blood seemed to grow suddenly cooler in the open air. ‘No, thanks. The letter was from Doring. You could make him uncomfortable as easily by reminding him that he was rich as you could make Gordon by reminding him that he was poor. ‘Don't talk to me about the lower classes,’ she used to say. He had not that sniffish, buttoned-up spirit that usually goes with an ability to make money. Moreover, he had the naive belief that in a little while Socialism is going to put things right. His heart sickened as he re-read the words ‘some people I wanted you to meet’. It was the feeling of her body that seemed to say it. He disengaged himself from her arms. They'd spoiled his evening, damn them! He shrugged his shoulders and looked away. Study Guide for Keep the Aspidistra Flying. And the money that such refinement means! We must cross the bridge and have a look at the signposts.’. Theoretically he got up at the proletarian hour of seven. It's like those ads for Listerine. He knew all about himself and the awful folly he was committing — knew that he had squandered five pounds on utter foolishness and was now going to squander the other five that belonged to Julia. The books are published by special low-class firms and turned out by wretched hacks at the rate of four a year, as mechanically as sausages and with much less skill. Very subtle, that. The dreadful thing was that he knew already what he was going to do. Suppose I married you when I was like I am at present — no money and no proper job? He was too tired to resent it. He had heard of Lady Chatterley afar off. And what a life! Gordon slid easily through the crowd. ... And now abideth faith, hope, money, these three; but the greatest ot these is money. ‘Oh, as usual. My golden locks time hath to silver turned, he thought. Ravelston laid his gloved hand on one of the iron spearheads of the railing. But it was so hard, so hard! ‘Yes, Gordon?’ she said quietly. And what adverts! Nevertheless, as he looked along the shelves he felt himself a little comforted. It overwhelmed him. Do you consider that an alternative?’, ‘Well, it's a standing temptation to the intelligentsia, isn't it?’. Though they were feet apart he felt as though they were joined together — as though some invisible living cord stretched from her entrails to his. ‘I didn't expect this,’ he said bitterly. Gordon was footsore, having walked a dozen or fifteen miles, and also hungry. The two youths and the girl ranged among them, sniggering over the pictures on their covers, the girl letting out little squeals and pretending to be shocked. The wind blew colder, drying the slime of the street. Both of them enjoyed the railway journey so much that they wished it had been longer. He stole a glance at the Nancy, who had drifted away from the poetry shelves and taken out a large expensive book on the Russian ballet. He was a Scotchman, of course, but Scottish is as Scottish does. They found an almost dark alley between the backs of houses. ‘It's stone cold. Time to light up presently. I asked leave to speak to him for a few minutes.’. I was never angry with you. He doubled up the manuscript and stuffed it between the bars of the drain. Since the Comstocks were genteel as well as shabby, it was considered necessary to waste huge sums on Gordon's ‘education’. It ought to be on our coat of arms instead of the lion and the unicorn. Another customer. Christ, what tripe! The waiter did not look abashed. And the Primrose had had his poem at least six weeks! In 1935. A pint of pure water weighs a pound and a quarter. It had dredged no deeper than Dell, and it even had books by Lawrence and Huxley. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. And the life insurance policy and the skivvy's wages. ‘You know, Gordon, it's really time you started reading Marx,’ said Ravelston, less apologetically than usual, because the vile taste of the beer had annoyed him. The constable was a solid rosy young man of about twenty-five, with a kind face, white eyelashes, and a tremendous chest. Gas stove, meat safe, enamel-topped table, plate rack, saucepans, kettle, sink basket, mops, dishcloths — even a tin of Panshine, a packet of soapflakes, and a pound of washing soda in a jam-jar. The thirty bob covered, without too much stretching, his rent, cigarettes, a washing bill of about a shilling a week, a little fuel, and his meals, which consisted almost entirely of bacon, bread-and-marg, and tea, and cost about two bob a day, gas included. His heart sickened while he did it. Human contact, human voices! SHARPLY the menacing wind sweeps over The bending poplars, newly bare. And the clerks who hurry to the station Finally he was turned out of his room, after a vulgar row. Flaxman had not thought it necessary to mention the thirty pounds to his wife. He thought of the two years he had wanted her and never had her. She had knelt down beside the bed. Rosemary and Gordon did not talk much. This remark silenced him. He dilated on the smell of slops and cabbage, the clotted sauce-bottles in the dining-room, the vile food, the aspidistras. Gordon gazed at the thing with wordless hatred. He gives up a \'good job\' in advertising to... (ISBN:0141183721) He gave a month's notice at the office. It was having money that did that. Twenty ripe male voices were chanting in unison: ‘Fo — or ree's a jorrigoo’ fellow, The way it gives everyone the right to stamp on you! Gordon liked this house. They called up evil memories. She had to be back at her lodgings by eleven, or the she-dragons were angry. With a sort of melancholy triumph he reflected that, after all, he was right. He looked at the dimensions marked below. When you looked at poor old uncle, with his large tremulous belly, his bronchitic voice, his broad, pale, timidly pompous face, rather like Sargent's portrait of Henry James, his entirely hairless head, his pale, pouchy eyes, and his ever-drooping moustache, to which he tried vainly to give an upward twirl — when you looked at him, you found it totally impossible to believe that he had ever been young. Yes, I would, I dare say.’, ‘There you are, then! And it was only now, when he was down to two quid a week and had practically cut himself off from the prospect of earning more, that he grasped the real nature of the battle he was fighting. It was a street he did not know. But if any survived they had grown rich and lost touch with their poor relations; for money is thicker than blood. And of course he repaid her, as soon as he was old enough, by despising her because she was not pretty and not ‘clever’. ‘You've gone and made me cry!’ she whimpered in self-contempt. Even in the bad light of the lamp she could see the state of filth the room was in — the litter of food and papers on the table, the grate full of cold ashes, the foul crocks in the fender, the dead aspidistra. But Flaxman was more accustomed to this kind of thing. I'd like you to be earning more money — yes.’, ‘And you think I ought to have stayed on at the New Albion, don't you? Perhaps a letter from Rosemary! Welsh, by the look of him — Nonconformist, anyway. And all evenings ended in this way; the return through the dark streets to the lonely room, the womanless bed. After a week or two he devised a new system of booking, by which he could tell how many books had been taken out and check this with the day's takings. He said broodingly: This remark came out of the blue. ‘All over my bloody trousers!’ cried the commercial traveller. All he wanted was to be left alone. It gave him a shock to see it, for he had not expected it to look in the least like that. Are you a poet?’, ‘Hm! In his despondent, bored mood he did not want to make the effort of talking to her. The footsteps died away. But I expect we'll find him a job of sorts before long.’, ‘It's so dreadful to see him like this! But they smell just the same.’. The truth was that in every moment of his life he was apologizing, tacitly, for the largeness of his income. This must be it. Poverty, like every other dirty wound, has got to be exposed occasionally. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. But at the corner of the copse, on the far side, there was a great tangled patch of sloe or blackthorn bushes. If there were tears in his eyes it was only from the cold of the wind. There were fearful rows, of course. You are a silly old ass! Gordon walked up Malkin Hill, rustling instep-deep through the dry, drifted leaves. This house, this street — everything.’, ‘But do you have to live in a place like this?’, ‘My dear chap, you know what my wages are. And chiefly he was anxious to get it over with as little fuss and effort as possible. There was a conversation of unspeakable obscenity about the lack of women there. It reiterated most of what he had said in their conversation. Flaxman's wife had forgiven him, and he was back at Peckham, in aspidistral bliss. Rosemary stopped short. They sat down and ordered coffee, and with some difficulty Ravelston restrained Gordon from ordering brandy as well. He pined for a bit of amusement — something cheap and easy. The Nancy glanced over his shoulder distastefully and moved a step or two away, into the corner. The girl trailed out, peeping into the book as she went. It would be so nice if we could.’, ‘Yes, I'd love to. We'll go early and be out all day. More matily than ever, they clinked glasses. A spasm passed over Mrs Penn's face at the mention of Burroughs. In Camden Town the pubs were full and noisy, though this was only Thursday. He had been arrested for ‘loitering with intent to enter’ — a vague offence for which you generally get convicted if there are previous convictions against you. Yet he seemed to know by the mere feel of a book whether it was valuable or not. His feet were hot and swollen from the pavements. She did not know what she was doing. Just soppy, lifeless drivel. ‘Hell! In the sulky, sluggish state that he was in, his sole desire was to get rid of them. It was something she had refrained from saying all these years — something that it had seemed to her a point of chivalry not to say. And everyone would know that he had been in the clink. Write anything else? Gordon sat down with the feeling that he must assert himself quickly. I do. You can't really feel that kind of thing when your income is eight hundred a year. I suppose they'd take me back.’. Once again the tears came into her eyes, and once again she fought them back. Besides, it was so warm and the place was so solitary that it did not matter how many clothes you took off. Accepted insults, muted joys; Who binds with chains the poet's wit, It was their first quarrel as man and wife. ‘Ze bill, sare? The walls were all of white porcelain bricks, horribly white and clean. Sell him a copy of Women in Love. It was just a derelict's job, a blind-alley job. So the die was cast. In lordly style Gordon shot the coins into his pocket without even counting them. There was no doubt about Gordon's literary ability. Whole locks of it were quite grey. She was punctual, as usual. You had people of this type coming into the shop all day long. Boots, school bills, and the next instalment ‘How about my present?’ she demanded, half wheedling, half menacing. Sure! He stood aside to let them pass. It was his religion, you might say, to keep out of that filthy money-world. To Ravelston, living in the wilds of Regent's Park was practically the same thing as living in the slums; he had chosen to live there, en bon socialiste, precisely as your social snob will live in a mews in Mayfair for the sake of the ‘WI’ on his notepaper. He hated himself at this moment. It's a sort of filthy sub-world one lives in. A fiver at the very least. This time she was angry. That other world, the world of money and success, is always so strangely near. It was different then.’ His mind went back to the morning hours, when they had been alone on the road together and there was still money in his pocket. Ravelston had written once, asking him to contribute an article on twopenny libraries to Antichrist. After you've just said good night to Rosemary — a really charming girl like that!’. Willowbed Road, NW, was not definitely slummy, only dingy and depressing. But it always made Ravelston feel rather uncomfortable. You won't be offended if I say something?’, ‘I say, you know, I hate that business about you and your girl. He had taken a liking to her in their single meeting and thought she might cheer Gordon up. It does. Keep The Aspidistra Flying is a 1936 novel by George Orwell. His mind went back to Wednesday afternoon, when he had desired to hear the enemy aeroplanes zooming over London. And after them the cashier pushed a little pile of half-crowns and pennies. This, as it happened, was his thirtieth birthday. Commit adultery if you must, but at any rate have the decency to call it adultery. Because he had no money the Dorings’ snubbed him, because he had no money the Primrose had turned down his poem, because he had no money Rosemary wouldn't sleep with him. ‘Cheer up, old man, cheer up! Ascending or descending? He turned sharply. At meals he would scarcely eat, he would not smoke Ravelston's cigarettes, but bought himself cigarettes out of his few remaining shillings. On the other side of the court there was a room where a police sergeant sat with a large ledger, entering up the drunks’ fines and taking payment. It was part of a lifelong attempt to escape from his own class and become, as it were, an honorary member of the proletariat. She had dressed herself in a very few moments. He crossed Oxford Street, threaded through Covent Garden, found himself in the Strand, and crossed the river by Waterloo Bridge. Veer downward; flicked by whips of air, The idea of trying to horn in among that pansy crowd! He turned out the light and lay on his back, wide awake. They each got nine months. The constable hastened to open the cell door. ‘The Editor regrets!’ Why be so bloody mealy-mouthed about it? Presently she mastered her yawns to greet him: ‘Hullo, Philip! Try again. The dreadful thing was that in his heart he was pining to go with him. Either surrender or don't surrender. Tarts, also. ‘You aren't serious, by any chance, are you?’, ‘An aspidistra! If you knew how I hate my evenings alone!’, ‘One never seems to have time for anything. I hadn't thought of them. They were the kind of people who in every conceivable activity, even if it is only getting on to a bus, are automatically elbowed away from the heart of things. As soon as Gordon stepped outside he felt worse then ever. He would go out and loaf for hours in public libraries, and then come home to lie on the bed in the spare bedroom, dressed except for his shoes, smoking endless cigarettes. Our civilization is dying. Gordon lay on the ragged bed, fully dressed but with no shoes on. Ah, these stairs! He drew her against him, and, as she seemed to expect it, tilted her face back and kissed her. Is London Pleasures getting on all right?’, ‘Oh, Christ! The shelves were already marked off into sections — ‘Sex’, ‘Crime’, ‘Wild West’, and so forth. But he had taken an oath against marriage long ago. He had lain upon them as a garden roller lies upon daisies, and there was no chance of their flattened personalities ever expanding again. A passionate hunger for books, and the fear of being a nuisance, were constantly at war in him. Five quid he had set aside for her, and then spent it on a tart! But in some ways Ravelston was not even like a moneyed person. Gordon stood rocking. They tramped along misty roads where there was no illumination save the cracks of cottage windows and the yellow beam of an occasional car. We must keep on. Gordon put his arm round her waist and turned her to the right, down a darkish side-street. ‘I b'lieve I'll jest 'ave The Way of an Eagle over again,’ said Mrs Weaver finally. Ten or a dozen of them there had been. This had a faint interest for Gordon, because the dye was wearing off one of the horses and it was assuming by degrees a curious purplish-brown shade. 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