The Houses of the Rich

I was always called by the houses of the rich your father’s most of all the gravel drive, the shotgun in the hall the family portraits on the wall Behind the house the gentleman’s small farm some horses, fields and late one night the barn where we spun beds of straw to midnight gold I hold you in my dreams again sometimes and think of families too grand for Christian names but Lady Greenwood this and Major Kensal that… It was not that I came without a hat or even shoes, but standing barefoot in the hall I realised that all the warmth the hall could muster was from polish.

Then up through carpets to my room where outside in the sun the afternoon shone slowly on the lawn and on the wood

I do not think that once again I could sit through another dinner where the food – served by the cook and plain but very good – contrasts the conversation made of wood. —These knives are very sharp. —The grinder called today. He will come every month. It’s understood. I do not think I can again nor should

They did not like me very well your family I was not humble, did not call the major Sir did not play tennis, nor did I defer to his opinions on the good of war. I did not ride, nor even played at tennis and finally, I swam too well.

Yes conversation flagged on that weekend and Don’t you think? and vagueness filled the air. Emotions throttled back contrived to send me mumbling to my room in sour despair. And you withdrew until at last you threw some gambit to the talk concerning Art and then you an your father both would start to argue: “Art for Art’s sake” “Beauty’s function” and so contrived to spin us through the luncheon.

I would not join in even then I felt your father would deride my views on Art though now I think we both thought Art was on our side. He classed himself with all great men; when recognised, the major artists too: all who succeeded in their field while I could not portray the sullen independent pride of citizen craftsmen festooned side by side with ornamented chains.

And leaving left me free to go back home “We’ll drive you there, of course, or we can phone to fetch a cab for you.” “I’ll walk,” I said and walked, alone. © 2003-13 Stephen Taylor
Permission to use quotes was neither sought nor obtained.

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