Monday, 4 March 2013

The old hulks

‘That’s the way we all go — the old hulks!’ The General tugged angrily at his moustache. ‘You can ruin yourself being battered and chased and shot at half your life, and fighting like hell on behalf of a lot of damned lickspittles who infest cesspits like the Athenaeum Club where they put too much damned salt in the damned consommé and try to poison people with curried turtle soup that would make a Bengali privy cleaner sick — not that I ever fought except when I couldn’t avoid it, but any man’s a bloody fool who does otherwise — and what d’you get for it at the end of the day? His voice was rising steadily, and his eyes glaring horribly. ‘I’ll tell you what you get — a set of tinware and a few meaningless titles and a pension that won’t keep your blasted dog in bones, and your niece, a lady of quality, expressing her proper contempt for a worthless travesty of a picture by some mountebank whom you wouldn’t pay to distemper a kitchen ceiling, may be hauled into a police court, subjected to the degradation of a public trial — ’

Mr American, p.391, Pan Books, paperback edition 1982.

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