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 Text and introduction taken from New Worlds 221, Winter 1996 issue, with thanks to John and Maureen Davey and Michael Moorcock

Jack Trevor Story died in 1991.  He had just typed ‘The End’ to the last page of Shabby Weddings.  This, with minor editing [by Michael Moorcock], is his first chapter.

 1. I Married A Mole


I started getting married when I was a love-sick boy. This was to my Aunty Pearl, who tucked me up for the night when I went to stay with her at Horns Mill. She came in like lavender and chatted like a chat telephone line, smoothing my sheets and my bony little dick and singing prayers, Jesus loves me and a string of God-blesses for the family who were not lucky enough to be there. I think that aunts know what they do and you bet they get something out of it.

     Marriage was the thing in those days. It was dangerous not to be married. If you did it without marrying you got babies or syphilis or gonorrhoea. If you masturbated, God saw you. When I was five I married Nina Vaughan, then at eight or nine I married Mrs Sprake’s (School) daughter who was at Cambridge County School and there was Florrie and Likian and I don’t know who else. It was a relief to get Evelyn pregnant and marry her, though I did not have sexual intercourse until I was thirty-seven years old. This I know because I was told by an expert. That was a Greek girl and I shared her cabin, steerage, on a ship coming back from Gibraltar. I had been to the wedding of Laurence Harvey and Margaret Leighton, at the reception at the Rock Hotel; you can check the dates.

     “Who has done this to you?” this Greek girl said.

     I wish I knew; I would sue them. By the time of the Gibraltar trip I was working on a film for Anna Neagle called finally Wonderful Things. By that time I had two homes going, two good women, two good lots of kids. But the original thing about me is, quite apart from my good or bad sex life, that my two known marriages, first to Evelyn and then, after three other long-running musicals with other girls, Ross, Jan, Maggie and Elaine, to Elaine; eeny meeny minee mo, who will stay and who will go, are both null and void. The reason is that I married Ulla Andersen three weeks before I married Evelyn.

     I can’t be apologetic about this because having an offstage wife all these years has been a bit of a blessing. She is enormously rich and I have had some dreadful times since I left Pye’s. I don’t seem able to manage money. But also marriage was the national climate, it didn’t seem that much of a drama. I didn’t think we were married, it was a typical student rag thing organised by Ulla and her Cambridge drama lot. One of the witnesses was Leah Manning, which should have warned me. Mrs Manning was my headmistress at the Open Air School in Cambridge and she interviewed my mother before my entrance there; but not until she died many years later did I realise my jokey marriage was genuine! Leah Manning died on the front page of the Guardian during the years I was writing a Saturday column. Leah Manning was a famous politico; and therefore the other witness on the boat (Ulla and I were married on the Haadrada, a Danish sailing barge) must have been Virginia Woolf. The date was April 7th 1937.

     “This is Virginia, her father is Leslie Stephen the mountaineer. This is Leah — Leah, this is Jack.”

     “Yes, I know Jack,” Leah Manning said. “His mother insisted that he had got TB and he hadn’t. Hello, Jack.”

     We all laughed and we were all drinking champagne and the captain was wearing a woman’s dress and a Sidney Sussex boating cap as per college eight. So as a wedding it has never seemed as legal as dancing with Evelyn — I’m young and healthy and you’ve got charm. It would really be a sin, not to have you in my arms…

     This was our first date, an Ideal Homes dance at Cambridge Corn Exchange. The crooner sang through a megaphone. The tune, the singer in his straw boater, the two of us, Evelyn a pretty short-bobbed blonde, myself a badly-creased seventeen, myself a guitarist, myself at Pye Radio, myself at night school doing the National Certificate course in Electricity and Magnetism, myself building my own wireless sets, myself having been in coal, tailoring, meat, scouts, model aeroplanes, plural masturbation, myself having looked up at the fated Airship 101 hanging over Parkers Piece, myself having watched the great cricketers playing on the piece (Jack Hobbs and Duleepainji were there, my chum told me — Hitler Needs You — Nevil Hempstead, died in the war) myself having played guitar in the University Arms Hotel Winter Garden Trio, myself having won first rhythm guitar prize in the Melody Maker semi-pro dance band contest, myself having not yet fallen in love.

     The greatest emotional event in my life was listening to the Jimmy Dorsey 32-bar chorus of Back Beats on low register clarinet with the new Parlophone issue of Red Nichols Five Pennies, first at the No. 77 Cambridge Rhythm Club and then at home, a council house in Chesterton, 107, Green End Road, where my next of kin was born, Jacqueline Lang and where Barry Pilsworth, my sister’s eldest son, was born in the same room.

     “Go down to Mitcham’s Corner on your bike and get a belly band for Elsa,” cried my mother urgently.

     Myself, having all the things listed above, having or hafting (as Welwyn Garden City people say) never fallen properly in love. Not with Evelyn, not with anybody.

     I was in love with Annie Turner, my teacher in the Burwell fen when I was nine, but not reliably so. Yes, I copied out the Rupert Brooke poem for her, got caned on my bum across a chair by Mr Glendon, the headmaster (Arrowsmith had gone) who said, shaking it in my face in fury (he was probably jealous):-

     “Did you write this, Story!”

     “Yes,” I said.

     “Say sir!”

     You’ll remember the poem. Lovers remember Rupert Brooke, the golden boy, all their lives. Glendon made me stand up and read it out as my own, to titters…



  I said I splendidly loved you; it’s not true.

   Such long swift tides stir not a land-locked sea.

On gods or fools the high risk falls — on you —

   The clean clear bitter-sweet that’s not for me.

Love soars from earth to ecstasies unwist.

   Love is flung Lucifer-like from Heaven to Hell.

But — there are wanderers in the middle mist,

   Who cry for shadows, clutch, and cannot tell

Whether they love at all, or, loving, whom:

   An old song’s lady, a fool in fancy dress,

Or phantoms, or their own face on the gloom;

   For love of Love, or from heart’s loneliness,

Pleasure’s not theirs, nor pain. They doubt and sigh,

And do not love at all. Of these am I.


  And of these I was, until the coming of Sara Bass. Sara worked in a dream factory and I was a married boy.


2. Sara


I fell in love for the first time again just after I married Evelyn.

     This was the first important love, the love that universalises and defines the pattern of the rest of your life. When you know for the first time that you are never going to experience requited love with the girl of your choice, only with her plain friend or someone unnoticed who has chosen you. Well, good luck to them even so. I was not a great catch.

     “How often do you bathe, Story?” old Whitby asked me.

     I told him once a week, exaggerating a little. “How often do you wash?” he asked me then. Once a day, properly, in the mornings if they are not too cold. “Do you wash with your shirt on?” he inquired. “Yes. But I put a towel round my neck and roll up my sleeves.” Mr Whitby then said: “I go to the bathroom naked in the mornings. It is the only way if you want to get on.”

     Now you might think that he was only pleasantly passing time, but he was not. Old Whitby was grumpy and strict and made his production line the most efficient in the Pye Radio factory in Cambridge, but he also took a real interest in us. Usually this interest coincided with some industrial hiatus, when supplies had dried up, or a cathode ray tube had exploded, killing people, or, worse, the moving belt that joined us together in 1936 had stopped moving.

     “Story, it’s time you started shaving. You’re married, aren’t you? How many children? Listen to me, boy, always wash yourself thoroughly and clean your teeth before going to bed with your wife. I notice that you take an interest in wireless and transceivers — you are transmitting morse on five metres from Green End Road. Tolly picked you up in Cherryhinton. What do you really want to be in life, boy?”

     “A famous tap-dancer and guitarist,” I told him.

     Oh, how I miss the workshop dream. Only while you are safe in your hopeless rut can you move the sky. The factory is a very human place to work in and be alive in every day. We are all in it now, in the slave society of the 90s, joined to mainland Europe, the other departments talking foreign and half-a-hundred new seasides. Pity the rich with nothing to save up for. I don’t know why they bother to get out of bed in the mornings. Repeat cliché.

     But the factory, ah, the factory. What a reassuring daily landscape of familiar faces. Squints and smiles and frowns, deformities and fevers and fantasies. Dirty Dick and Durham and Mr Havilock; Rose the Dwarf with her wry-necked up-turned frozen plate of a smile, pushing her jangling trolley of metal artefacts to the plating department. Those giggling, soppy girls on the Taylor-Hobson engraving machines, moving the pantograph arms zig-zag on some illegal favour. Buzzing I love you on blazer buttons.

     Oops! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to marry you.

     But soon, along comes Sara Bass.

     Old Whitby caught me holding Sara’s hand. “Story! We saw that! Stop the belt!” His eyes glinting in their horn rims through the forest of coil-winding machines. “Go home and don’t come back until tomorrow afternoon.” The foreman is talking for everyone’s benefit as he comes along the mains-transformer line. Ron Stearn on test was whistling King Porter Stomp but stopped. “Off you go, man. Explain it to your wife and children —” Then he stops  talking, having seen that the girl is Sara and immediately altered his anger to something else. “Oh, it’s you, Sara. All right, switch on!” No sign of apology; the belt drive whines up, the little soldiers jerk forward on their endless journey, capacitors, coils, chokes, little messages, sweets — mass production goes on again.

     Had you been there you might have reasoned that Sara Bass was so lovely that no-one should be blamed for dereliction of duty. Or that Sara was Old Whitby’s daughter, perhaps. Or the niece of the managing director, Mr Jones — Jay-5-Jay-Oh on the twenty metre band — or mistress? Or so brilliant at her task of impregnating copper-wire coils in shellac that to offend her might jeopardise our time-and-motion bonus. Or that she possessed a known fatal attraction that no ordinary human could resist. You would be wrong.

     What it was, was that Sara Bass was deaf.

     If you failed to hold her hand you could not inform her that the shifting jam of components or sub-assemblies on the canvas belt was about to shove her bath of hot, liquid shellac off the edge of her bench. If you did not touch Sara occasionally she would suffer the scald scars that disfigured the legs of Myra Houston who now worked in Progress; scaly, shiny grooves, deep as the pattern on tree bark. Sara would thank me for rescuing her from this horror and she would give me the rare, slow smile of the almost deaf.

     After she had impregnated the square windings it was my job to plug them with a laminated iron core centre. But at her smile, or the meeting of her dark eyes with mine I would, several times a day, almost ram a sharp ‘T’ iron through the palm of my hand with a careless bang of the mallet. Sara’s beauty was Welsh even if she was not; black hair, pale skin, brown eyes, over-thick eyebrows and lashes. Too much of it and they’ve got a moustache. Sara Bass had been finished off at just the right and optimum place.

     It took me some time to discover that she was deaf.

     At first when I joined the line I thought that she was ignoring me. When during a canteen break when she was about six inches away I struck up a highly artificial conversation to impress her. I did not want her to think that I was just a factory worker like Sid Matthews. He was also keen on her and used to say unpleasantly sexual things about her breasts and so on. An ignorant fellow. He did not know what we were making, nor how radio waves go through the air or the laws of Lenz and Faraday.

     “Our transformers work by induction,” I explained to him. “When moving lines of force — a magnetic flux, that is — cuts a closed circuit, that’s the winding of the transformer, then a secondary voltage is induced.” And to my horror in reply he said: “I’d like to induce you wiv a bit of motive force, darling!” Not to me — right into Sara’s face. She smiled at him. At my expression of disappointment he laughed. “Don’t worry, cocker, she’s as deaf as a post.”

     Sara Bass had a tragic life which a number of living people in my home town still remember. “You mean Hilda Last,” my sister Elsa said, only recently when she came up from Cambridge to smoke and cough and drink whisky while I was ill. For our purposes her name is Sara Bass. Her parents were afflicted, deaf dumb, she was almost deaf. They remember that she was run over by a gravel lorry, the wheel passing right over her body without killing her. But I remember more about Sara than this. Through her I realised that I had made the mistake — prevalent in the thirties — of marrying the first girl I dated and made pregnant. At night school my brain began to grow.





With the onset of knowledge I turned my bed at right-angles to the earth’s magnetic field to avoid getting polarised for life. When people asked my mother how I was getting on she was told them I was now in research. “Research,” I had to correct her. Only the working classes say research.

     The working classes I had left across the great divide. This is the divide between getting to the factory at eight in the morning and getting there at nine. On the far shore, fast receding, were my hourly-paid mates in their brown cow-gowns saying ‘fink’ and ‘fort’ and ‘suffink’ and ‘nuffink’ for reasons I have never exactly discovered. A ubiquitous defect unconnected with the palate      and rooted somewhere between laziness and the peasant fear of being accused of becoming better than the next peasant. Something so staggering in its social significance that schools have never bothered with it.

     “I fought you was going to be a guitarist?” said Sid Matthews when I got promoted away from mass production. I said: “You know what fought did?” I was now a wireman in the Model Shop. Printed circuits were being predicted. Our Pye Baby Q was off to Radiolympia that year, miniaturisation followed the Acorn Valve. I learned everything, for the factory Model Shop is a whole orchestra. Joining it was Walter Elkin with the first effective deaf-aid. Walter himself was deaf. He was looking for guinea pigs.

     “Do you know any deaf people in the factory, Story?”

     Funny that he should say that to me. The instrument makers laughed, for my love was well known. We had a musical foreman, Ginger, who would tap-dance and sing just as you are moving the lathe tool to shave off the last thou — “Why do, I do, just as you say!” And now he told me to go and get Sara Bass and don’t forget I am a married man. My married status, a thin, craggy, worried, beardless boy, caused quiet amusement in the world of science.

     There is very little to say about what happened between Walter Elkin and Sara Bass because I was not there. They were sat together after working hours in the soundproof acoustics laboratory. Sid Matthews and his ilk would snigger, but I know that Walter was a dedicated factory scientist. There are factory prime ministers and factory clergy and factory everythings. The news when it came would be conformist.

     “Is Walter marrying that deaf girl?” I asked, not wishing the rude world to know that I still murmured her name to passing dogs. “Deaf?” said Ginger. “Sara deaf? You are a bit out of it, Jack. That’s the trouble with you family men, wrapped up in your wives. Sara is not deaf now.” Sara was not deaf any more.

     See Walter at the lake, knee-deep in his waders, controlling a model speedboat by radio. He built the hull and the engine, a steam turbine, at his own bench and using his small clockmaker’s lathe. The radio triggers were conceived in his own brain. At thirty-seven or so, bachelor entrenched, spec-tacled and dressed like an undertaker, Walter was not an obvious heart-throb; yet from Sara’s face you would not know this. I watched her at the lakeside, wearing a deaf-aid that matched the latest of those prototypes which were forever festooned around Walter’s neck.

     “Can’t we go?” Evelyn would say. She had a rotten life, one may suppose. But she seemed to fit in with it.

     “Let’s see it do one more round.” Don’t be fooled; I was watching Sara. I could hear her laughter and what’s more she could hear her own laughter at  last and not merely through the wooden sound convections of bone conduction. During the first week of her new equipment, Sara had said good-morning to everybody six times just to hear their reply.

     “Hello, Sara!” I would cry.

     “Hello, Jack!” she would cry.

     She did not hear me say I love you, dammit. I could have saved her life; saved all of them, the passing parade of love to follow throughout my life, the unending column of lovely sunset clouds coming from damp and unlikely horizons, like hot air balloons. My nurses now, one a day in the secrecy of my lonely room, bending to bathe my haematoma. “I like your hair,” I told Nurse Heath Ilot yesterday. My engine just below and out of sight.

     Had I told Sara that I loved her and had I ran away with her, I could have let the rest go on with the lives, their pitfalls and mistakes and their Sid Matthews’s. Instead I lost her.

     Sara was not deaf that summer. See her and Walter Elkin on the recreation ground at lunchtimes. Recreation grounds are ugly. Particularly this one at Pye’s, as Sir Nicholas Lloyd said to me at a Punch lunch, when he started his editorship of the Daily Express. “You’re a Cambridge boy,” he said. And we got talking and we had both played, in every sense of the word, on that ugly little patch of grass. And I mentioned that I had one night gone to bed with a friend and her daughter, living in Haig Road, which adjoins the Pye lot. And he said, rather quickly I thought — and so did Alan Coren the Punch editor — “What number?” I still laugh about that and I’m sure you can reason out why, though lovers do sometimes like their family as part of a passion that might otherwise be scarce. Though not with a Lloyd and not in 1960 something. Lloyd and I are safe generations apart with our Cambridge boyhoods. I did not sleep with his ma.

     Urban recreation grounds have green notice boards filled with regulations. Dark, muddy grass with smelly twists of dog spoor, sour, black earth, small ungrowing trees, reluctant bushes and fixed patterns of Sweet Williams. And then all at once the sun is there. A factory spills out, grown-ups free to play. Girls with their overalls undone, belts hanging, mop caps on their daft, movie-queen hair styles. Chaps; smoking, bits of horse-play, a Woolworth’s red shiny yellow-stitched cricket ball, ersatz Fenners university grass down the town but here, at the dream factory are little nests of passion, a couple trying to enter the locked pavilion.

     Sara and Walter were walking around the far perimeter with their deaf-aids switched on; or practising sign-language as they sit entwined on the children’s swings, pushing to and fro with their feet on the worn grass. Sara showing the scientist the finger and hand language she employed when talking to her mum and dad, the mutes.

     “I fink you fancy her, cocker!” says Sid Matthews, with a vulgar sexual motion of his elbow. I dip my gloom into the pages of F.J. Camm’s Practical Wireless or Hogben’s bulky linen-covered volume, Mathematics for the Million, in which the equations were illustrated with matchstick diagrams — or some other technical poetry, my heart already spoken for and signed away. Though not legally so, I was not legally married to Evelyn, there was an extraordinary adventure to do with my music; there is more to come as the bishop was saying to the actress at that period. I am speaking of Ulla again, the real Mrs Story.

     Sara Bass was no longer deaf. She wore a crystal microphone and a crystal earpiece both matched into the four-stage quiescent push-pull low-noise amplifier with twin acorn pure-tone sounds for sweet ears — a black button on her breast to control her acuity right down to whispers and the threshold of human hearing on quiet pillows and on windy nights in Grantchester Meadows, the splashings of the Grants and of Byron’s Pool and fish.


Fat caterpillars drift around,

And Paradisal grubs are found;

Unfading moths, immortal flies,

And the worm that never dies.

And in that Heaven of all their wish,

There shall be no more land, say fish.

From Rupert Brooke’s

Heaven, 1914 and other poems.


Sara had Walter Elkin and he had Sara, for he had switched her on. All I could do was watch her. Works sports day by the Cam I watched her all the afternoon. Why? Nothing is impossible just as long as you don’t attempt it. And I had Evelyn with me — she was an old Pye hand.

     “So who’s this lovely lady, then?” asked Ginger, my Model Shop foreman, the singer and dancer and comedian. His real name is Ernie Triggs and he died while I was looking for him in 1987, visiting Pye’s with a television film unit, looking for the survivors. He had been critical of my apparent neglect of my wife.





Sometimes wife neglect as seen by others is a required state, known only to both members of the wedding. Ernie had given me only half-an-hour off to marry her, had let me bike to the Registrar’s on the rainy May Day Saturday. The rest had made their own ways. But now, touched by conscience, Ginger was nasty. “This is my wife, Evelyn,” I told him. “Your what!” Incredulous, of course. “You mean you actually know her, Story? But you haven’t spoken to her since you arrived. How do you do, lady?”

     Evelyn said, “Pleased to meet you.” Ginger then said, with plenty of volume for the nearby workers. “I should think you are, Mrs Story. I should think you’re pleased to meet anybody.” He was getting at me; he was not satisfied with my guitar playing lately. We had been together out to Papworth, then an isolation hospital, I played and he sang, part of the Pye Panto. Frankie and Johnny he sang and he sang:


Met a girl named Sadie Green,

Prettiest girl you ever seen,

She can dance, she can sing,

She can do most anything!

Other night down at the hall,

When the music played,

She got on that dancing floor an’ this is what she sayed —

(Then the two of us together, me with my Epiphone)

How’m I doing, hey! Hey!

Twoo twoo twit twit twow!

How’m I doing, hey! Hey!

Gosh oh baby and how!


Whatever I do be it understood

Whatever I do has gotta be good!

How’m I doing? Hey hey ye —

twoo twoo twoo twit twit twoo!


“You were in the wrong key!” he said immediately, with the speakers on in the Papworth Hall. Heard by a hundred isolated TB patients and a pretty Jewish soubrette with jazz timing.

     “You should have seen your face!” Ernie Triggs told me.

     This is the lady I am going to tell you about. She was the soubrette and sang, solo, Stay As Sweet As You Are. And as you are, tell me that you’re mine, dear. She is my first wife, my only legal wife, she saw me and heard me that night at Papworth, she also heard me whistling at the greengrocery stall on Cambridge market, she met me at a bus stop at Mitcham’s Corner late one night and I had just got engaged to Evelyn, had spent the evening with Evelyn, now pregnant, had bought her a single-diamond engagement ring and left her in Vinery Road to show her father and step-mother, had walked the miles home with no money, Coldham Lane, Newmarket Road, Victoria Avenue, the river bridge, Mitcham’s Corner and a girl waiting for the last bus. It was Ulla Andersen and we spent the night together. Ernie’s amplified rebuke came up.

     “You should have seen your face!” She laughed.

     She was in her second year at college and was living out, a nice room on the steep hill of Hertford Street. That night I was in the right key. She showed me what to do. In a lifetime, there must be one such person. Usually it is better, it is required that you are not in love with her. Later she needed me to marry her. It had nothing to do with babies, it had all to do with politics, those crazy Hitler Youth students I got mixed up with in Hitler Needs You. Ulla’s grandparents went to the baths.

     I have a kind of innocence that attracts people like that. I am an alibi. If you’re a Stein, marry a Story. I am gentlemanly. In an Italian, like Guilio Storri, my dad, a gentleman of Verona, one would call it cowardice.

     It attracted Sara Bass. “You are gentlemanly,” girls tell me. Evelyn fell in love with me because I did not swear. That’s quite true. I remember crying as a boy of nine in Burwell, Thomas Hardy had just died, when my brother said fuck in front of my mother. I am still embarrassed at bad language from other people. Nicely spoken girls excite me. I remember a few immortal lines. “You needn’t do all that,” is one of them. I was caressing Clare with my tongue in bed at her mansion flat in Gospel Oak. She knew me from my column and I knew her as a known film actor’s visiting secretary. She was with Sian Phillips one evening in the Coach and Horses, Harry’s bar. Some girls and women and ladies, I should say, remain efficient. Especially in bed.

     Ginger’s admonitions on sports day were unfair. My wife was a lot older than me, nearly twenty-two. Also, I could sleep with her every night. In my way I loved her until her death. And more now. She died in my arms and she died unmarried but she had lots of good double and triple orgasms, both of us learning. And she knew every song in the book. When I left her she was always glad to see me go.

     On a quiet moment towards dusk, between the end of the sports and the beginning of the dancing to the George Challis Band, I saw Sara sitting by herself outside the men’s canvas lavatory waiting for Walter. I walked by a lavender bush, picked a piece and smelt it, casually, knowing that she could see me; looking as lonely and forlorn as I was able. Projecting my dreams, I thought that she might now have the impression that I know something about horticulture and that I am attuned to nature. I still do this kind of thing.

     “Oh!” I said, when she spoke to me. She asked me if I would dance with her and the heavens fell on me. They had broken up. This was my loving wish for her. Waiting for the company’s eight-channel electro-encephalograph expert to pee in a canvas tent while the music played and I picked lavender has got to be the end of the affair.

     “Walter doesn’t dance,” she explained. “He’s being sick at the moment. He’ll feel better when it’s all up.” I held her, I held my arm around Sara for the very first time. Every now and then I could feel her legs against mine. I murmured. “Are you still working on transformers?” Things like that. And she said: “There’s a girl staring at us.” It was only Evelyn. I kept my back to her. I spun my dream in a half-chassis and walked expertly across her bodyline, leading her and loving her, protectively. I’m a good dancer.

     Soon Sara Bass was making signs, waggling her fingers and touching her ear and I saw that Walter Elkin was sitting by the band, doing the same thing in reply. What with that and what with the identical buttons in their ears I felt that I was dancing with his latest invention. When the music stopped, coincidentally they were playing My Sweeting Went Away, the girl gave me a cheerful kiss right on my mouth, running her tongue lightly along my lips. It was more like goodbye than hello and it freed her for the scientist.

     “That was nice,” Evelyn said cheerfully when I rejoined her. She didn’t mean that was nice. You go into a registry office with a girl, but you come out with a woman already smelling of milk and protocol.

     Evelyn knew I had fallen in love for the first time and that it had come to nothing. And there would be five more times, because the uneducated have a certain prescient common sense. A more intelligent wife might have got me out of this dangerous liaison with my mole.





Sara was on her way to church when she was run over. She and Walter Elkin cycling out to a country church where Walter was due to play an oratorio on his own home-built electronic organ. They had stopped to pick some poppies. Well, okay, this   was the story. She dropped her engagement ring. She had switched off her deaf-aid in order to look for it. Deaf people do this. It aids the concentration of what you’ve got left in the way of faculties. I bet she switched off the deaf aid to make love. I used to imagine that Evelyn was Sara, by covering both her ears as we came up to a climax. The gravel lorry came like a squadron of Hawker Furies from Duxford and she heard nothing. It knocked her onto a soft bank and ran its huge tyre right over her body, squashing lovely Sara Bass into the ground. Ginger, Ernie Triggs, told us all about it in the Model Shop, all motors and overhead belting switched off.

     “All Walter could see was her legs and the top of her head. The rest of her was in the mud. Not a bone broken. Not a bone broken!”

     Something was broken. Walter Elkin never mentioned Sara again. And he is not the kind of scientist you question, if you’ll forgive my present tense, for he lives, does he not, at our breakfast tables, with his hobbies. Then in the Autumn, just before the radio show, all of us on full overtime to beat the deadlines, Mr Jones and Mr Dalgleish and the big conundrum himself, C.O. Stanley, coming round watchfully — we were up against Bush and Marconi, Ekco and Murphy and Kolster Brando. What are you doing, boy? I’m drilling the spindle hole in the glass tuning scale using a copper rod with a concave end, filled with carborundum powder mixed with paraffin oil. And among the importance suddenly there was Walter Elkin, demonstrating his servo-tuning by press-button that year. I noticed his hair had gone grey. By Christmas it was white. Without Sara.

     One day I drifted across to the transformer line. Funny feeling, visiting a chain gang that I used to be on.

     “Mr Whitby…”

     Mr Whitby answered nothing. Boys do not call attention of their betters during the daily Derby of mass production.


     I scanned the line.


     It was not the same depressing Sid, but one of his unqualified friends. Sid had gone back to tatting. Cambridge is a gypsy town. The glory that is C.P. Snow and The Masters and a deuced good wine and a half, Brown, is also, like Washington DC, a jewel in a crime wave of squalid townies, normal slums, the poor — and the gippoes. We have a nice racing element and a good class of college servants and tradesmen. I had lost my first love probably to Sid Matthews. There came a glimpse of a curiously familiar face, the dark-whiskered features, a woman scraping fire pans on the steps of a travellers van in that boat-scrap river-side slum a mile up the fen drift opposite Ditton, where the bumps races end. Perhaps for all of us.

     My wife Evelyn cried when I told her what I had seen. As though at something shared. Evelyn was always sympathetic when I lost a girl-friend, when my life came to an end again. She was a good wife, killed by the surgeon at the Blister Hospital in Stevenage who had her under anaesthetic for seven hours — the newest thing, an ear drum operation. She woke up half-paralysed.

     “You have been lying on your arm,” she was told.

     Your brain has been starved of oxygen and you will be dead within the year, Mrs Story, he could have said. I am saying it now.

     Since writing the above I have just telephoned Richard Williams at the Independent on Sunday. He is re-reading my account of last summer when I got hijacked into a lunatic asylum by my GP and my loved ones, though it was nobody’s fault but my own. If the piece — it’s called Cross In Hand — is published, it will be my first writing to be published since I came out of my culture block, my state of shock. This is an important day therefore and I shall take a short break. It’s important to keep it fresh.

 (To be continued).

Copyright ©  the estate of Jack Trevor Story 2002. Not for reproduction. Copyright in all work by Jack Trevor Story is the property of the author's heirs. Permission for use of this material can be obtained through Jackie Edwards (Story), Peter Story, Lee Story or Michael Moorcock. Reproduction of copyright material whether in text, visual or audio form by unauthorised sources strictly forbidden.

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