Theres no need to be worried about me, thank you, said Israel.
Good. Up and out yer stinking pit then. Lyin in bed like a cripple
We dont say cripple these days, Ted.
Aye. Lying in like a woman
You cant say
No wonder ye dont know what end of yous uppermost.
Come on. Up and out, ye bedfast.
Ted. Sorry. No. Im staying here.
Yere due in work, boy. Come on.
Ted. Look. I really cant be bothered.
Cant be bothered?
Cant be bothered to work? said Ted, incredulous.
If a man work not, then how shall he eat?
Yeah, all right, spare me the lecture, said Israel.
Thats not a lecture, ye fool, thats the Bible. Now come on. Get yerself up and lets go.
Dont talk to me like Im a child, Ted.
If you act like a child, then Ill talk to ye like a child.
Well, I would appreciate it if you could just moderate your language and talk to me in a calm and rational fashion.
Calm and rational? said Ted. Calm and rational? What do you want me to say? Please come back, Israel? We all miss you on the mobile library?
Well, that might began Israel.
Of course we dont miss ye on the mobile library. Ye blinkin eejit. Yeve got a job to do. And youre expected to do it, like anyone else. And dont expect me to be covering for ye, because Im not. Linda Weill hear about this before ye know it, and yell be out on yer ear.
So? said Israel.
So? Ill tell ye whats so. Im stepping outside here for a smoke, and yeve got five minutes to get out of yer stinking bed before I lose my temper.
Ted walked outside.
And Israel readjusted himself on the bed, pulling the quilt back up around him, plucking David Leans Great Expectations from out under the covershe wondered where that had got to. Hed joined an online DVD postal delivery service, which was very goodunlimited DVDs, no late fee, twelve pounds per month, delivered to the door of the farmand hed been steadily working his way through the British Film Institutes Top 100 films. The Third Man, Brief Encounter, The 39 Steps, Kes, The Red Shoes. Often hed fall asleep in the coop to black-and-white images and then wake up in the morning to the sound of the shipping forecast on the
World Service. Alfred Hitchcock, Dirk Bogarde, And now the Shipping Forecast, issued by the Met Office on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency at 0520 today. There are warnings of gales in Rockall, Malin, Hebrides. The general synopsis: low Rockall 987, deepening rapidly, expected Fair Isle 964 by 0700 tomorrow.
Sometimes he didnt know where he was. Or what year it was. It was like hed come adrift in his life.
He thought maybe hed try ringing Gloria on his mobile again. Hed only rung a couple
of times so far today. She hadnt answered the phone to him since hed arrived back in Tumdrum.
Straight to voicemail.
Hed try again later.
He picked up Infinite Jest again. Laid it back down. Started flicking through a month-old Guardian.
Excerpted from The Bad Book Affair by Ian Sansom. Copyright © 2010 by Ian Sansom. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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