The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Jul 2, 2014


Alan Sillitoe's collection of short stories The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner focuses on the working class mid-Englander. In the story 'Uncle Ernest', the hero has just earned £10 for upholstering some divans, and wants to get himself a nice breakfast. He orders tea and tomatoes on toast:
A steamy appetising smell rose from the plate: he took up the knife and fork and, with the sharp clean action of the craftsman, cut off a corner of the toast and tomato and raised it slowly to his mouth, eating with relish and hardly noticing people sitting roundabout. Each wielding of the knife and fork, each geometrical cut of the slice of toast, each curve and twist of his lips joined in a complex and regular motion that gave him great satisfaction. He ate slowly, quietly and contentedly, aware only of himself and his body being warmed and made tolerable once more by food. The leisurely movement of a spoon and cup and saucer made up the familiar noise of late breakfast in a crowded cafe, sounded like music flowing here and there in variations of rhythm.


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