HomeShort StoryThe Royal Façade by Peter Marsh

The Royal Façade by Peter Marsh

Queen Elizabeth II visits the tiny Caribbean island of Petite Guadeloupe to open a brand new radiology wing, however there’s an issue; by Peter Marsh.

Picture generated with OpenAI

The day the Queen got here, it rained.

It started to rain simply after the pink carpet had been laid on the jetty. It paused for some time as Her Majesty and her entourage alighted from the Royal Yacht Britannia, a quick however highly effective burst of tropical sunshine elevating a steamy haze from the squelching pink carpet as she stepped ashore. Then it rained resolutely on till sundown.

Some blamed the choir.

I watched the Royal Arrival by means of binoculars from Poinsettia Level, the place Lance and Trish Meddling had invited me to spend the night time earlier than the good day. Trish was anxious concerning the choir. Lance was anxious concerning the Queen Elizabeth II Radiology Wing or, extra exactly, concerning the X-ray machine it purported to accommodate. They in all probability thought that the presence of a 3rd get together about the home would maintain these anxieties in harness. They each had vital performances forward of them, and couldn’t afford to blow any emotional gaskets.

Trish had switched on the radio, tuned to the native station, on which a reside commentary was being broadcast.

“Her Majesty the Queen is now pausin’ on the jetty of Falmouth, right here in Petite Guadeloupe,” commentated Fidel Smith-Waterproof coat, an erstwhile pupil of mine, “previous to bein’ pushed to the island hospital, the place she can be opening the brand new medical facility, named in her honour. Proper nex’ to me, I’ve the Chief Medical Officer of Petite Guadeloupe, Dr Rahul Chandrasekhar, higher recognized domestically as ‘Dr Jab’. Dr Jab, are you able to inform us what this new wing will imply for a small Caribbean island like Petite Guadeloupe?”

By means of the binoculars, I may simply make out the debonair Fidel Smith-Waterproof coat proffering the microphone in direction of the dumpy determine of Dr Jab.

“What’s going to it imply?” stated Dr Jab’s voice. “I let you know what it’ll imply, Fidel. It’s going to imply a really very nice deal – in reality, a complete new idea in medical look after the 4 thousand souls who dwell right here in Petite Guadeloupe. That’s what it’ll imply, and nothing lower than that, I can guarantee you.”

“Boy, can that man bullshit,” stated Lance. Trish hushed him.

“Positive, Doc,” stated Fidel. “The listeners might like to listen to an instance jus’ how this new facility will truly affec’ the individuals right here.”

“You need an instance? Effectively, I provides you with an instance. Right here is my instance: now that Petite Guadeloupe has a radiology unit of its personal, there want be, for instance, no extra bumpy rides on the mail boat for sufferers with, allow us to say, as an example, suspected fractures…”

Fidel interrupted him: “Sorry to chop in, Dr Jab, however some listeners could also be questioning what this radiology unit truly is.”

“Such as you, as an example,” stated Lance.

“Can it, Lance!” snapped Trish.

“…is the place we take X-ray pictures,” Jab was explaining. “We’re very very glad to have obtained from the federal government of Nice Britain a present of an X-ray machine and we will guarantee the Queen as we speak that we’ll be placing it to very excellent use…”

“What a joke,” stated Lance. Trish tweaked up the quantity.

Fidel had reduce in once more: “And I consider not simply Britain, however America too has been concerned on this projec’. Are you able to inform us one thing about that?”

“Definitely I can, Fidel. I’ll let you know how America is concerned. You see, an X-ray machine by itself doesn’t make a radiology unit. By no means. On high of the machine, you want two extra issues. By that I imply yet one more factor and one individual, if I could also be actually exact about it. And these are what the US of America are offering us with.”

“So inform us, Dr Jab…” started Fidel. I noticed Dr Jab snatch again the microphone.

“Sorry. Most generously offering us with,” he corrected himself.

“Completely. So inform us, Dr Jab, what are these additional issues – this factor and this individual – that the US have supplied?”

“Effectively, I am going to let you know, Fidel. The factor is the constructing wherein to accommodate the brand new machine, and the individual is the individual to function it. You see, we won’t simply go away a machine like this out within the rain, because it had been…”

“Cautious, Jab,” growled Lance.

“…and we won’t have any Thomas, Richard or Henry working it, in case you take my that means. We want what is named a skilled radiographer, and that’s simply what we can be getting. We’re very very lucky to have on the island Dr Lance Meddling, of Challenge Dole…”

“Challenge Dole?”

“Sure. Let me spell that out for you. That is D-O-L-E. And it stands for Improvement Alternatives for… let me attempt to keep in mind this…”

” ‘By means of Native Experience’,” prompted Lance.

“…for Individuals In every single place, or one thing of that kind…” Jab went on.

” ‘Dope’. Nice,” drawled Lance.

“And this Dr Meddling, is he your skilled radiographer?”

“No, Fidel. That isn’t what I used to be about to say in any respect. However he has chosen certainly one of our native individuals, a younger woman of Petite Guadeloupe by the title of Matilda Clouden – a really very vibrant woman certainly – and she or he has been despatched to attend a most rigorous course in the US of America. Matilda can be returning shortly to take up the important thing place of Island Radiographer.”

“For about two days,” stated Lance.

“Wow!” stated Fidel. “An island radiographer for Petite Guadeloupe! So it looks as if Petite Guadeloupe can be fairly nicely self-sufficient for this sort of service sooner or later.”

“We hope so, Fidel, we actually hope so.”

“Thanks, Dr Jab. Effectively, now Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is bein’ led to the official automotive, which is able to convey her to the hospital on the highest of the hill right here in Petite Guadeloupe. The rain is startin’ to fall once more, and throughout me the umbrellas are goin’ up…”

Lance switched the radio off. “We might higher get ourselves as much as the hospital, and get this piece of mummery over with.”

“Lance. Will you give me a break?” stated Trish, turning spherical within the doorway and elevating her arms to bar his exit. “You are not the one individual on show as we speak. I’ve obtained my choir to consider, and in case you’re all set to demoralise them, I’ll ask you to remain proper right here at dwelling.”

Lance tried to push previous her. “Come on, honey. We have to go.”

“I am critical, Lance.” Trish continued to bar the best way. “I can do the job a complete lot higher with out you.”

Lance paused for a second, then reached out and pinched Trish’s cheek. “Get me up there, and I will be the proper diplomat,” he stated.


“I promise. When you’ll let me come.”

Trish weighed Lance’s provide, then dropped her arms to her sides. “OK. Let’s go, then. They’re going to be establishing the receiving line.”

Lance knew in addition to I did that Trish’s risk was not in earnest. He was her solely bass.

The Petite Guadeloupe Choral Society had been the oblique results of the résumé Trish had given to Ron, the principal, when she joined the employees of the island’s solely secondary college. With a commendable dedication to the entire fact, she had chronicled nearly all the things she had ever executed since her conception. Noting that this included a university course entitled “Voice 101”, Ron had appointed her to show music twice per week to Kind One. And this was how Trish had found simply how far a bit of studying goes in a spot the place everybody else has even much less. Inspired, she had gone on to kind the Choral Society, as a method of sharing with adults the experience she had by no means earlier than suspected herself of possessing. The choir, consisting of twelve girls and three males, had taken the native world by storm and, along with the Lozère Cross Metal Band, had develop into one thing of an island showpiece. At Christmas, they’d mounted a joint live performance in Falmouth City Sq., at which Graham Jeffreys of the British Excessive Fee in St Nicks had occurred to be current. So impressed was the Resident Consultant with Trish’s combined programme of Christmas carols, songs from the exhibits, and basic calypsos, that he had invited her and the metal band to offer the leisure for the Royal Go to.

Trish’s preliminary enthusiasm had matured into apprehension and, as the large day drew nearer, she had develop into more and more conscious that, anyplace apart from Petite Guadeloupe, neither she nor her singers would have come inside a royal mile of creating a Royal Command Efficiency.

“What did you guys consider the rehearsal final night time?” requested Trish, as Lance steered the Pajero by means of the driving rain up the winding again street to the hospital.

“It went very nicely,” I stated.

“It positive went a complete lot higher than the rehearsal for the Christmas present,” stated Lance.

“Thanks a lot, Lance, for reminding me of that,” stated Trish.

The ultimate rehearsal for the Christmas present had come to an abrupt finish two minutes after it had began when rumours of an impending hurricane had unfold among the many choristers. Hurricane Sylvia of 1954 had left a long-lasting impression within the collective reminiscence of the islanders, and Trish had discovered her choir immediately depleted to 1 bass and one tenor, whereas throughout us the island night time grew resonant with the arrhythmic clatter of plywood boards being nailed over home windows.

“Positive I am going to remind you of it,” stated Lance. “It confirmed we will do nice even with out rehearsing.”

“That wasn’t for the Queen of England,” stated Trish.

“Trish. The whole lot goes to be nice.”

“After all it’s,” I agreed.

I may inform from the following silence that the reference to the Christmas costume rehearsal had returned Lance’s ideas to the ill-starred X-ray machine.

It was Graham Jeffreys who had one way or the other or different organized for the machine to be donated to the Petite Guadeloupe hospital. Lance had protested, fairly realistically, that they’d nowhere to place it and no person to function it, however the Resident Consultant, working to some agenda of his personal, had ploughed resolutely forward and, sooner or later, an enormous wood packing case labelled “MEDICAL APPARATUS – WITH CARE” had been offloaded at Falmouth jetty. The case had been taken as much as the grounds of the hospital, the place it had remained for a number of months whereas Lance entered into negotiations along with his employer, Challenge Dole, for the cash to construct a hut for it, and to retrain one of many hospital auxiliaries to function it – negotiations which had borne fruit simply earlier than the aborted costume rehearsal for the Christmas live performance.

I keep in mind the timing of those occasions very clearly, as a result of it was on the best way dwelling from that rehearsal – the Meddlings had provided me a carry as, in partial fulfilment of the hurricane alert, it had began to rain very laborious – that Lance immediately slammed on the brakes, yanked the transmission into reverse, and swung his headlamps in direction of a small home he will need to have observed out of the nook of his eye as we handed it. It was the boards nailed over the home windows that had seized his consideration. They bore the inverted legend: “MEDICAL APPARATUS – WITH CARE”.

“I can not consider this,” he stated to himself, as all of us stared on the boards. “I simply cannot consider it.”

With out one other phrase, he drove at high velocity to the hospital. There, rolled over within the mud and uncovered to the lashing rain, lay the model new X-ray machine.

It was Trish who had damaged the shocked silence: “Maybe it’ll nonetheless work in case you dry it,” she had stated.

“Effectively, I ain’t planning to be close to that factor when somebody throws the swap,” stated Lance. “Goddamned fools. They wreck a million-dollar machine for the sake of some awful boards.”

“Lance. You do not know it is wrecked,” protested Trish.

“I am sorry. I am very sorry, however I’ve tried to be broad-minded. I’ve tried to be sympathetic to those kids of nature. This does it for me. You simply can not help these individuals.”

By no means would there come a greater alternative for me to show my cultural orientation coaching to good impact. “You have to see it from their standpoint,” I stated. “They’re defending what’s of most worth to them – their properties. That machine was an unsolicited reward. They in all probability did not even know what it was. They noticed a set of boards deserted, and so they made good use of them. Accurately considered, what we’re seeing right here is accountable, rational behaviour.”

Lance drew breath, along with his eyes closed. “You positive endure goddamned fools extra gladly than I ever will.”

He by no means had obtained over the wreckage of the X-ray machine. It was comprehensible, as he had already wasted hours of his personal time in persuading Dole to donate the funds to help it. The constructing plans and coaching programme being by this time set irrevocably in movement, an unrepeatable allocation of funds was to be wasted too.

Now right here we had been, as soon as once more driving by means of the rain to the hospital, to participate in a pantomime of a hand-over ceremony.

“I can not recover from what that man Jab was saying on the radio,” stated Lance.

“He was simply being diplomatic, Lance,” stated Trish. “Such as you’ll need to be when she talks to you.”

“I will be diplomatic, positive, however I am not going to lie like that fellow did. That form of trickery turns my abdomen. Island Radiographer! You realize what Jab instructed me concerning the coaching programme? He stated it might permit Matilda to get a greater job within the USA. Christ – do you suppose we’re coaching these individuals as much as take jobs away from our personal individuals, or what?”

“It is sensible, although.” I stated. “Individuals with skilled coaching do not stay right here lengthy. Alongside comes the prospect, and off they go. Matilda would not be right here for lengthy, even when she had a machine to function.”

Lance parked as shut as he may to the awning that had been stretched in entrance of the primary door of the hospital. Trish and I dashed for shelter whereas Lance walked throughout to the newly constructed lean-to extension, most of whose out there wall house was coated with “Queen Elizabeth II Radiology Wing” in freshly stencilled pink gloss paint. The door was open, and a pink ribbon was stretched throughout the edge. A big pair of scissors, with the value label nonetheless on them, hung from the ribbon. Lance was wanting into the brand new room, when he was accosted by Hezron Godley, the automotive repairer. The rain was making such a din on the awning, I needed to transfer fairly shut to be able to hear what Godley was saying.

“I ain’ actually invited, you realize, Docta Meddlin’, however I feelin’ I ‘advert me half to play, so I commin’ by jus’ in case I gettin’ the chance o’ meetin’ the Queen.”

“We do admire your nice work, Mr Godley, so do not take offence that we have not been in a position to embrace you within the receiving line.”

“Not that I questionin’, Docta Meddlin’.” Godley sounded crestfallen. “I jus’ wonderin’ why the builder gettin’ embrace an’ not me, after I fixin’ up the machine so good. See.” He gestured contained in the hut. “I clean out all of the dents, an’ I spray over the rust so that you ain’ seein’ it in any respect in any respect.”

“You positive did a really nice job, Mr Godley.”

“I even take off the knob, such as you inform me, in order that they ain’ gettin’ paint.”

“I admire all of your care, Mr Godley, however I am afraid that is simply not the proper event to recognise your contribution.”

“An’ so many individuals right here who ain’ contribute not’in’.” Godley sniffed, and walked dejectedly away by means of the rain.

He had some extent. Dennis and Gertrude Churchill, the island’s plantocracy, had been there. Lengthy-term expatriate retirees Percy and Edith MacSkinner had been there. Mr Benjamin from the grocery store, and Festus the excise man had been there. Father Gabriel and Father O’Malley had been there. Dr Jab, and the complete employees of the hospital had been there. A photographer from the St Nicks Inquirer was there, in addition to Fidel Smith-Waterproof coat of Radio St Nicks. And, in fact, the Petite Guadeloupe Choral Society, and the Lozère Cross Metal Band had been there. We had been fairly a sizeable crowd to be huddled underneath a metre-wide awning. There was barely house for the plates of canapés to move between us.

“The place are the honoured friends?” requested Trish, as Lance returned from his inspection of the brand new wing.

“I suppose nonetheless contained in the hospital, assembly the sufferers,” he replied. “We’ll be subsequent.”

One of many secretaries from the Excessive Fee, armed with a typewritten checklist on a clipboard, was attempting to organise the individuals right into a line. “Principal of Toussaint Faculty?” she was calling.

“Not right here,” I referred to as again; Ron, the final word recluse, would sooner be buried alive than attend a royal backyard get together.

She struck his title out and continued down the checklist. “Dennis Churchill?”

Churchill shuffled into the road.

“Do not inform her, however I’m right here,” stated a voice in my ear.

“Ron! What the heck are you doing right here?”

“They invited me. I did not wish to come however, nicely, I suppose there’s just one Queen Elizabeth. The second.”

“Inform them you are right here, otherwise you’ll lose your house,” urged Trish.

“No. I ain’t standing in line now. I am going to go away it to the final minute.” He gestured in direction of his trousers. “Take a look at that. As a particular effort for Queen Elizabeth, I had the women throughout the road press them, and see what they did?”

Ron’s neighbours will need to have possessed both a radical sense of trend or a knavish sense of humour. The impeccable creases they’d ironed into his trousers had been unorthodoxly positioned to the left and proper facet of every leg. The brand new creases, mixed with the remnants of the standard fore-and-aft ones, gave Ron’s legs an eye catching box-section look.

“I did not even discover till Churchill’s spouse there obtained a match of the giggles.”

The trousers had been starting to have the identical impact on Trish.

“Simply stand in entrance of me, OK?” stated Ron. He was holding me by each shoulders. “I do not wish to be no laughing inventory.”

“Calm down, Ron,” stated Trish, briefly composing herself. “Individuals put on every kind of issues today.”

“Effectively, I ain’t individuals,” stated Ron.

The secretary referred to as my title, and I joined the road, to the left of Dr Jab. Lance was referred to as subsequent, and took his place subsequent to me. After him got here Mistress Lawrence, the hospital matron, and after her, the MacSkinners, adopted by Trish.

The royal get together, steered by Graham Jeffreys, emerged from the hospital, and a hush descended on the corporate. Ron discreetly took up a place behind Dennis Churchill’s proper shoulder. I attempted to recall the details within the briefing I had obtained by final week’s mail from the Excessive Fee. Contact the Queen’s hand evenly when she presents it – do not squeeze it or shake it vigorously. Name her ‘Mam’ (not Ma’am!) and him ‘Sir’. Reply their questions briefly, and ask none in return. And, above all, be blandly constructive about all the things.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh started to progress, in that order, alongside the road, from my proper to my left, Graham Jeffreys sidling alongside behind them with the clipboard, presumably to be able to inform them who they had been speaking to. Since Ron had inserted himself upstream from me, it struck me that my title would now be out of register, Dr Jab turning into me, and I, Lance Meddling. We had been all intensely keen to indicate ourselves to our greatest benefit but, I discovered myself questioning, would it not actually make any distinction if every of us was introduced as any person else? Given the quintessentially stilted, ritualistic nature of the proceedings, I doubted it. To the guests we had been imagined to esteem so extremely, we had been no extra differentiated than a row of nine-pins.

The Queen’s voice being softer than the Duke’s, and the rain persevering with to drum mercilessly on the awning, I may make out solely his questions – “What do you do on the island?” and “Do you prefer it right here?” – repeated in gradual crescendo, with the barest minimal of variation, as he superior alongside the road. Not till the Queen reached Dr Jab did I get any indication of what inquiries to count on from her.

“How lengthy have you ever labored right here?” she requested him.

I earnestly hoped that Jab had famous the instruction about answering briefly.

“I’ve been working right here on Petite Guadeloupe for nineteen great years, Ma’am,” he replied.

“This should be a second dwelling to you by now.”

“Petite Guadeloupe is my solely dwelling, Ma’am, and little question about that. You could not know this, Ma’am, however when you’ve gotten lived in a spot for nineteen…”

Mr Jeffreys raised a halting hand, and Jab shuddered to a cease.

“Peter Nash, from the UK, science trainer,” stated Mr Jeffreys, because the get together shifted yet one more notch alongside the road. Ron will need to have been absorbed in any case with out disturbing the even tenor of the proceedings.

I touched the Royal Glove, because the Queen, for the ninth time that afternoon, requested, “How lengthy have you ever labored right here?”

“Two years and 7 months, Mam.”

“And when are you returning to Britain?”

I had not anticipated this, and it was a troublesome one. Leaving Britain was by far one of the best factor I had ever executed, and I resented the belief that the soggy previous place exerted some kind of elastic pull on its passport holders. However, blandly constructive about all the things, keep in mind.

“As quickly as I’ve accomplished my time right here,” I replied.

Both happy or detached, the Queen moved apart once more. “Lance Meddling, Challenge Dole,” introduced Mr Jeffreys, because the Duke of Edinburgh handled me to the Royal Handshake.

“What do you do in Petite Guadeloupe?”

“I train Science and Maths, sir.”

“And the way do you prefer it right here?”

“Very a lot, sir.”

Prince Philip moved on. The one two conversations with royalty my life was ever more likely to comprise had been over. Fact to inform, I had had extra rewarding conversations with Ron’s cats. Status, although, is all the things on this world, and I knew I’d keep in mind my temporary and anodyne encounter with the Royals lengthy after I had forgotten the confidences I had shared with Edith and Percy.

Lance, nonetheless, was to not get off so evenly. The 2 customary questions having been briefly answered, a silence descended between Duke and Physician, by means of which I caught a wisp or two of the dialog two stations to my left. Mistress Lawrence and the Queen had, it appeared, found a typical ardour for black-belly sheep. As there was no signal of their dialog flagging, and because the Duke of Edinburgh had apparently shot his bolt along with his two customary questions, Lance had no choice however to ease the uncomfortable silence by his personal effort.

“After all, the brand new facility will imply that suspected fracture circumstances will now not need to be despatched by mail boat to St Nicks,” he defined. There was one other lull. The Duke of Edinburgh continued to nod agreeably whereas, next-door, the black-belly sheep had been going from power to power. Lance plunged in as soon as once more: “And the challenge has additionally facilitated the creation of a brand new key submit on Petite Guadeloupe, the submit of Island Radiographer, which, I’m greater than happy to say, can be stuffed by an area individual, at present present process rigorous coaching within the USA.”

The Queen, finally, moved on. Prince Philip adopted. Lance turned to me. He was in determined want of relieving his emotions however, noticing that Dr Jab was close by, he turned away and swallowed them as an alternative.

The receiving line accomplished, the centre of consideration shifted to the pink ribbon throughout the edge of the Radiology Wing. Dennis Churchill, referred to as on by Mr Jeffreys to behave as grasp of ceremonies, took the microphone and, from a dauntingly thick wad of notes, proceeded to ship a historical past of drugs from Hippocrates to the current day, earlier than narrowing his purview to the Petite Guadeloupe Hospital, and eventually, to the palpable aid of the viewers, to the historical past of the Queen Elizabeth II Radiology Wing particularly. From the second he started, the Queen had stood with scissors poised for motion – a posture she held doggedly all through the twenty-five minutes of his oration.

“It’s a sign honour,” Churchill concluded, “that Her Majesty The Queen has graciously seen match to incorporate our stunning little island in her Caribbean tour, and it’s now my very particular pleasure to ask Her Majesty to sever the ribbon and thereby to inaugurate this thrilling new facility. Thanks, Your Majesty.”

In contrast with Churchill’s speech, the Queen’s was a mannequin of conciseness: “By this act,” she stated, “I now declare the Queen Elizabeth II Radiology Wing open, and on behalf of the individuals of Nice Britain and Northern Eire, I hand over the tools it incorporates to the individuals of Petite Guadeloupe.”

To forcibly extended applause, the ribbon fell in two on the fourth snip of the scissors, and the royal couple, escorted by Drs Jab and Meddling, went inside to look at the reward so munificently bestowed by their authorities on their former colony. Jab took the affected person’s place, whereas Lance took the controls. A digicam flashed. Everyone who wanted to be fooled, was fooled. In all justice, Hezron Godley ought to have been there too, to share on this superb triumph of floor over substance, however at the least he would see his clever façade reproduced on the entrance web page of the next week’s Inquirer.

There had been a slight remission within the rain whereas Churchill was talking, however when Trish took the rostrum it started to fall more durable than ever. Because the Petite Guadeloupe Choral Society launched into its Royal Command Efficiency of “What a Fantastic World”, our solely consolation was that our royal viewers may hear even much less of it than we may. Trish tried desperately to maintain us collectively, however by no means till this second had we wanted to take our beat from the baton, and there was valuable little consensus as to how her actions had been to be interpreted. The Lozère Cross Metal Band had been in a good worse plight than us, there being no house for them underneath the awning. They’d tipped and sponged the rainwater out of their devices earlier than we started however, with the water flowing off the sting of the awning, they rapidly stuffed up once more, and it was tough to tell apart the gamers’ efforts from the aleatoric contribution of the raindrops. Within the choir, every had his or her personal approach of coping. Some set their very own tempi, and carried on with out regard to these round them. Others, much less confident, threw frequent sidelong glances to their neighbours, attempting to lip-read, then to pitch in as greatest they might. And the remainder regarded round them in utter bewilderment, shrugging and suppressing the urge to chuckle. We had been united solely in showing to subscribe doggedly to the idea that, with all its uncertainty and disharmony, chaos and incomprehension, and wet days, it remained a Fantastic, Fantastic World.

Trish led the bow, simply as we had rehearsed. The digicam flashed once more. We may see, however not hear, the well mannered applause of our affected person viewers.

The day’s programme accomplished, nearly everyone adopted the royal motorcade again right down to city. The Meddlings and I remained up on the hospital to observe the Royal Departure from there. The rain abated for simply lengthy sufficient to permit the get together to traverse the jetty and board the lighter that might return them to the Royal Yacht. In opposition to a cloudy sundown, the little boat crossed the bay, and docked alongside the large one.

“Yet one more diplomatic mission completed,” stated Trish. “Do you suppose they might hear us in any respect?”

“The Queen was completely rapt,” I replied. “She by no means took her eyes off us.”

“I used to be form of hoping they could not hear.”

With an imperious blast from her hooter, Britannia was slowly turning her prow in direction of the open sea.

Trish sighed. “What these little pantomimes should value!”

I questioned why Lance had made no remark and, wanting spherical, I observed he was now not with us. The one naked bulb within the Queen Elizabeth II Radiology Wing threw his elongated shadow by means of the doorway on to the grass. He was standing on the controls of the brand new machine, fairly immobile, as if questioning what on earth he was going to do with it now.



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