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Sample text

With the crutch cut out of the pants? ’ Gossip! All my life I’ve been sniped at by little people who resist any change to the way they work. All my life, and apparently that’s not the end. As if the problem was my invention, not their idleness! As a matter of record, by the way, Penny is a First Secretary, married pro forma to another diplomat. And it was only two pairs of trousers. But they were right about the damage. And their petty disrespect still rankles. How I wish I’d had another day or two to report on the value of their work!

But we had no doubts. PROMISES O f course there was a wedding and of course it was celebrated at St Barnabas’, where Father Weedes solemnised it (an entirely appropriate term). When Win and I tried to imagine the mixing of cardigans and suits, we thought about eloping to a civil marriage in Sydney. Then we recognised that one of the few values our families shared was a belief in the sacrament. For them a civil ceremony was scarcely better than criminal. We need not have been anxious. Sitting across the aisle from each other, and at separate tables in the reception, ‘his’ family and guests had limited contacts and mingled guardedly with ‘hers’.

Nor is this the full extent of the despotism of the body. Despite my wide reading and my long practice in English, I was not prepared for the embodiedness of language itself. When someone wanted to ‘chew my ear’ my immediate reaction was to flinch; but he wanted only to talk. An inconvenient colleague is ‘a pain in the neck’ or even ‘a pain in the bottoms’. Asking for greater effort, someone will say ‘put your back into it’, while someone who is mildly unhappy claims to be suffering from ‘a broken heart’!

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