"Kahn means that Davids ancestors were priests in Israel when ours were
painting themselves blue with woad," I said, quoting---or probably
Daddy smiled. "All the same, what it means to people now and in England will
close a lot of doors in your face."
"Not doors I want to go through," I said.
Daddy raised an eyebrow at that.
"No, really, I have thought this through," I said, and I had, or thought I
had. "You remember when Billy Cheriton was taking me about everywhere?" Billy
had been one of Mummys worst ideas, the younger son of the Earl of Hampshire,
whos Mummys cousin and who happened to be married to one of her best friends.
Wed known each other all our lives, gone to the same nursery parties, and then
the same young-people parties, and Mummys idea had been what a natural match it
would have been.
Daddy nodded. He didnt think much of Billy.
"Once we were down at Cheltenham for the racing because Tibs had a horse
running and Billy was showing the family flag. We were in a crowd of nice people
just like us, and the horse lost, of course."
"Tibs Cheriton has never had an eye for horseflesh," Daddy said. "Sorry. Go
"So we were drowning our sorrows in Pimms, and I was bored, suddenly, bored
to screaming point, not just with Cheltenham and that crowd but with the whole
thing, the whole ritual. Tibs and one of the other boys were talking about horse
breeding, and I thought that it was just the same with us, the fillies and the
stallions, the young English gentry, breeding the next generation of English
gentry, and I couldnt think of anything more excruciatingly boring than to be
married to Billy, or Tibs, or any of that cackling crowd." Not that Id have
married Tibs if he were the last man in the world, because I was pretty sure he
was Athenian, and I think Mummy knew it too, otherwise it would have been Tibs
shed have been pushing me into going around with, not Billy. "I dont want
that. Ive been presented and done all the deb stuff and even before I met David
I knew it wasnt what I wanted."
That was when Daddy said it. "Are you sure youre not marrying David just to
escape from that?" he asked. "To shock Billy and all the Billies by doing
something they cant countenance? Because if you are, it isnt kind to David,
and thatll stop being fun too, much sooner than you think."
I thought about it, and I could see the smallest grain of that in me, the
desire to give it all up and rub their faces in it with someone totally
unacceptable by their own ridiculous standards. Im afraid Mummy had rather done
her bit to encourage that part of my feelings, while intending the opposite, of
course. "I do think there might be the tiniest bit of that, Daddy," I admitted.
"But really I love David, and he and I have so much in common in ways that
arent to do with upbringing and education and that count for a lot more with
"He assured me he didnt intend to pressure you to convert," Daddy said.
"Hes not very religious himself," I said.
"He told me he has no intention of giving up his religion." Daddy frowned.
"Why should he?" I asked. "Its not just a religion, its a culture. Hes not
very religious, but hes not ashamed of his culture, his background, and
converting would be like saying he was. It wouldnt make any difference to
anything anyway---people who hate the Jews hate converts just as much. He says
Jewish children take the religion of the mother, so thats all right."
"In the same way it would make no difference, people will always talk of you
as that Mrs. Kahn, Lucy Eversley that was." He made his voice into a cruel
imitation of a society woman, of Mummy at her absolute bitchiest really.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...