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The Northern Clemency

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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      The Northern Clemency
Philip Hensher

An epic chronicle of the last 20 years of British life from the Booker longlisted and Granta Best of Young British novelist, Philip Hensher.Beginning in 1974 and ending with the fading of Thatcher's government in 1996, ‘The Northern Clemency’ is Philip Hensher's epic portrait of an entire era, a novel concerned with the lives of ordinary people and history on the move.Set in Sheffield, it charts the relationship between two families: Malcolm and Katherine Glover and their three children; and their neighbours the Sellers family, newly arrived from London so that Bernie can pursue his job with the Electricity Board. The day the Sellers move in there is a crisis across the road: Malcolm Glover has left home, convinced his wife is having an affair. The consequences of this rupture will spread throughout the lives of both couples and their children, in particular 10-year-old Tim Glover, who never quite recovers from a moment of his mother's public cruelty and the amused taunting of 15-year-old Sandra Sellers, childhood crises that will come to a head twenty years later. In the background, England is changing: from a manufacturing and industrial based economy into a new world of shops, restaurants and service industries, a shift particularly marked in the North with the miners' strike of 1984, which has a dramatic impact on both families.Inspired by the expansive scale and webs of relationships of the great nineteenth-century Russian novels, ‘The Northern Clemency’ shows Philip Hensher to be one of our greatest chroniclers of English life.

Philip Hensher

The Northern Clemency

Epigraph (#u079dad3f-4FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

what he would have done hoped to do for anyone else

E.M. FORSTER, Arctic Summer, principal fragment

Contents

Cover (#u079dad3f-1FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Title Page (#u079dad3f-2FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Epigraph

Book One

Mardy

Book Two

Nesh

Book Two-And-A-Half

In London

Book Three

Gi’ o’er

Book Four

The Giant Rat of Sumatra

Praise

By the Same Author

Copyright

About the Publisher

BOOK ONE

‘So the garden of number eighty-four is nothing more than a sort of playground for all the kids of the neighbourhood?’

‘I wouldn’t say all,’ Mrs Arbuthnot said. ‘I would have said it was only the Glovers’ children.’

‘All of them?’ Mrs Warner – Karen, now – said. ‘The girl seems so quiet. It’s the elder boy, really.’

‘I’ve seen the girl going in there too,’ Mrs Arbuthnot said. ‘It’s during the day with her. She’s on her own generally. I grant you, it’s the older boy who goes in after dark, and he’s got people with him. Girls, one at a time. There’ll be trouble with both those boys.’

‘But, Mrs…’ Mr Warner said. He was slow to catch people’s names.

‘Call me Anthea,’ Mrs Arbuthnot said. ‘Now that we’ve finally met.’

‘I mean, Anthea,’ Mr Warner said, ‘why doesn’t anyone tell the parents? They surely can’t know.’

‘That I don’t understand,’ Mrs Arbuthnot said. She was stately, forty-six, divorced, at number ninety-three, almost opposite the empty house. ‘This isn’t the best opportunity, I dare say.’

They were at the Glovers’. It was a party; the neighbourhood had been invited. Most had been puzzled by the invitation, knowing the couple and their three children only by sight. Mrs Arbuthnot and Mrs Warner had passed the time of day on occasion. They had arrived more or less at the same time; both had the habit, at a party, of moving swiftly to the back wall the better to watch arrivals. They had made common ground, and Mrs Warner’s husband had been introduced. He worked for the local council in a position of some authority.

It was a Friday night in August. The room was filling up, in a slightly bemused way; the neighbours, nervously boastful, were exchanging compliments about each other’s gardens; conversations about motor-cars were running their usual course.

‘It’s a nice thing for her to do,’ Mrs Warner said, who always prided herself on thinking the best of others. She had left her son, nineteen, a worry, at home; she thought the party might have been smarter than it was, not knowing the Glovers. Other people’s children had come.

‘She’s a nice woman, I believe,’ Mrs Arbuthnot said, who had her own private names for almost everyone in the room, the Warners, the Glovers included. ‘It’s a shame she couldn’t have waited a week or two, though.’

‘Yes?’ Mr Warner said, who believed that if a thing could be done today, it shouldn’t be put off until tomorrow.

‘There’s new people moving into number eighty-four,’ Mrs Arbuthnot said. ‘It might have been nice to introduce them to everyone. They’re moving in next week.’

‘Just opposite Anthea’s,’ Mrs Warner explained to her husband.

‘Perhaps it wasn’t ideal,’ Mr Warner said. ‘From the point of view of dates.’

‘People are busy in August, these days,’ Mrs Arbuthnot said. ‘They go away, don’t they?’

‘We were thinking about the Algarve,’ Mrs Warner said.

‘Oh, the Algarve,’ Mrs Arbuthnot said, encouraging and patronizing as a magazine.

It was a good party, like other parties. Mrs Glover was in a long dress: pale blue and high at the neck, it clung to her; on it were printed the names of capital cities. In vain, Mrs Warner ran her eyes over it, looking for the name of the Algarve, but it was not there.

‘Nibble?’ Mrs Glover said, frankly holding out a potato wrapped in foil, spiked with miniature assemblages of cheese and pineapple, wee cold sausages iced with fat. Her hair was swept up and pulled in, in a chignon and ringlets. They had all dressed, but she had made the most effort for her own party.

‘I so like your unit,’ Mrs Arbuthnot said.

‘We got fed up with the old sideboard,’ Mrs Glover said. ‘It was Malcolm’s mother’s, so he felt he had to take it when she went into a home. She couldn’t have all her things, naturally, so we took it, and then one day, I just looked at it and it just seemed so ugly I had to get rid of it. We got the unit from Cole’s, actually.’

‘You got it in Sheffield?’ Mrs Arbuthnot said.

‘I know,’ Mrs Glover said. ‘I saw it and I fell in love with it.’

‘It’s very nice,’ Mrs Warner said. ‘I like old things, too.’

‘I know what you mean,’ Katherine Glover said. ‘I love them, really. I just think they have so much more character than new furniture. I’d love to live in an old house.’

There was a pause.

‘But it’s original, isn’t it?’ Mr Warner said, helping her out; they seemed to be stuck on the white unit, windowed with brown smoked glass.

‘Yes,’ Katherine Glover said. She gestured around the room. ‘I think we’ve got it looking quite nice now. Finally!’

They all laughed.

‘We’ve lived here for ten years!’ she said vivaciously, as if hoping for another laugh. ‘But—’

Karen Warner remarked that it was strange how you didn’t get to meet your neighbours properly, these days.

‘This was a nice idea,’ Mr Warner said, ‘having a party like this.’ But he was wondering why, on this warm August night, the party was staying indoors and not moving out on to the patio.
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