History 2

Chronicles of Wasted Time: Part 2: The Infernal Grove by Malcolm Muggeridge

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By Malcolm Muggeridge

Half 2 of Malcolm Muggeridge's autobiography

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Sample text

A few stones came hurtling after us, that was all. At the hospital, the man was taken to the emergency ward to be examined, and I trailed along, thinking that perhaps, as a Sahib, I might be able to get him attended to more quickly. I felt particularly absurd in my dinner jacket; the more so because, in order not to get any blood on it, I kept well away from the injured man. Everywhere bodies were stretched out, overflowing from the wards into the corridors. It was difficult to avoid treading on them.

Their resistance was finally broken when one night, in their absence, their little hut was razed to the ground. Arriving the next morning and finding it gone, they had no recourse but to sit among us, which they surlily did. In our Londoner’s Diary corner, Bruce Lockhart reigned as a quasi­ independent satrap. Having a direct line to Beaverbrook, he could treat with the editor, Percy Cudlipp, more or less as an equal; as well as with Captain Warded, Beaverbrook’s man on the premises. I once heard Bruce, on the telephone to Beaverbrook, call him ‘Tich’ ; but the word was pronounced so softly and respectfully that it might have been some honorific title like ‘Your Eminence’ or ‘Your Grace’.

All I wanted to do was to get away. Back to my dinner party, a drink, talk, spoons dipping into soup, servants in red cummerbunds passing round plates of food and bottles of wine - a scene calculated to put out of sight and mind this other one of sprawling bodies, and the man with the gashed throat who was too inconsequential even to have a name, or arouse curiosity as to why he should have cut a gaping hole in his wind­ pipe; his single gesture of defiance against a world which seemed indifferent whether he lived or died.

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