The first story is ‘œThe Tribute’, a perceptive and amusing study of a trio of Kensington widows exposing their small-minded attitude to a former nanny, when they receive news of her death.
I wasn’™t too keen on ‘œLychees for Tone’. It is written in the present tense, which I find irritating. A lonely mother lives with her son. As she waits for him to bring home a new girlfriend she ponders what she will be like and her isolation and prejudices become apparent. I thought the ending was disappointing with a predictable play on words.
‘œThe Great, Grand, Soap-Water Kick’ is a story about a tramp, Horsa looking for a house in which he can have a bath, which only happens every second year or so. You can imagine the state he is in and the state of the house by the time he has finished. I liked the idea and the structure of the story. Although I liked the imagery and the style of writing does reflect the character, I found it jarring and disjointed. But then I don’™t think you’™re actually meant to like Horsa.
‘œUp steps smelly Horsa.
Rings bell no answer.
Ringsgain no answer.
Ringsgainturns look updown. Not living soul. Not motor car. Not bike. Only cat gatepost watch through yellow slits. Cat stands, stretches on four fat sixpences, turns round, curls upgain, goes sleep.’
In ‘œHetty Sleeping’ a married woman on holiday with her two children meets a former lover, and wonders what her life could have been like.
In ‘œTransit Passengers’ two young students are leaving Greece and go their separate ways. Will their love survive, or is it as transitory as their journey?
‘œThe Dickies’ are a married couple. Mrs Dickie is neurotic and has to suffer her husband’™s infidelities. All is not as it seems, however.
I particularly liked ‘œA Spot of Gothic’. A young army wife living in the remote countryside is driving home alone late one night when she encounters a woman standing in her garden waving to her. It’™s the loneliest part of the road and she is shaken and frightened at the sight. She wonders if she saw a ghost. When she returns to the road the next day she feels she is being watched and sees a woman who asks her the time and walks away, leaving the young wife feeling terrified: ‘œThe dreadful sense of loss, the melancholy, were so thick in the air that there was almost a smell, a sick smell of them.’ Who has she seen?