Monday, October 30, 2023

altered states of consciousness

For altered states of consciousness, my preference is running up a mountain to go fishing. This is more difficult than drugs or alcohol, let's leave sex out of it shall we ? but the sense of immanence is more durable I find. There might be a bit of Protestant work ethic involved as well. 

Clouds, water and rock. Ideally there should have been a fish as well, unfortunately it was a dour day in a hard place. The trout responded much as the fish in Elfland, 

Cast anything into a deep pool from a land strange to it, where some great fish dreams, and green weeds dream, and heavy colours dream, and light sleeps; the great fish stirs, the colours shift and change, the green weeds tremble, the light wakes, a myriad things know slow movement and change; and soon the whole pool is still again.

Up here are big blue-backed bastards of trout, a very few, dreaming of something other than the trout flies I show them. Back in the early 2000s Ken and I did the 17 mile 3000ft round trip to the lake and caught one apiece, fabulously pretty fish. Then we were in our frisky forties and could reasonably expect to live to regret 17 miles of steep trail in a day. Now I'm not at all sure of surviving such a day. 

Given my limitations the plan was to camp at a slightly less elevated lake a few miles away to spread the trip over a weekend. In the new backcountry order since the plague, there are both entry permit lotteries and backcountry camping lotteries to win in order to get a campsite in the national parks. Mine was only halfway up to the lake, giving a 13.5 mile day instead of 17. Well let's see how the legs hold out. 

Up in a grey morning to follow the stream until it becomes a creek and then a rivulet and so to the source, snow in a cirque. 

The aspens brightened the grey.

I stopped in my assigned campsite to put up the tent and cache the bear barrel. The ranger had told me there was a bear hanging around the higher country, "just clap your hands and he should back off". Hm. At the lower lake the marmots prefer sweaty shirts to food, drag off unattended shirts and chew on them for the salt. Socks also go. A friend discovered the lifetime warranty on his hiking socks did not apply to theft by marmot. 

New tent test, Durston X-Mid 1. This is well under 2 pounds, good for old fat and breathless backpackers who have trouble even carrying their new bellies up the hills. Getting old is like being a teenager again in the sense that every new year brings a or several new things to adapt to. Age sixty added a little pot belly which is now reaching comfortable proportions. I'd tried the tarp camping with a 14oz tarp which was wonderful to carry but wet to sleep under in a thunderstorm. At that point it appeared my shelter did not in fact provide shelter. Then discovered that most tarp campers also carry a bivy for the wet, which gets us up to the same weight as a good one-man tent for less comfort. Admittedly the tarp is nice when you wake up in the dark hours and see moonlight and stars rather than gray nylon. Also when the bear is huffing and scratching around the tarp, you can look out and confirm the large bear sounds are in fact coming from a small squirrel or chipmunk, the mini bears.

Shed the backpack here and downsized to a running pack with rain and fish gear, water and food. The problem with that is losing my excuse for not running with the big pack. Much of this trail is runnable, not too steep or too rocky, or it would be for a frisky forty year old. 

On up the valley, the morning fog had cleared and the day brightened. 

The lower lake had rising fish. Rule 1 is never walk away from rising fish. That I broke, dreaming of the big blue-backed bastards further up, and knowing the day was burning away. 

Around, up and then up some more. 

These high lakes change year over year as they are mostly dependent on stocking from the air. Only a few of the lakes have inlet streams where the fish can spawn. This does rather take away from the image of the resolute hardy self-sufficient mountain man catching dinner, relying as we do on the entire apparatus of modern civilization to get the fish up there. Still we are machines of forgetfulness and I pretend every day to live inside the world, believing in wilderness is hardly even a warmup stretching exercise. 

This lake is perfectly implausible as the home of large healthy trout. Typically the high lakes will have a least a smidgeon of weed, a few midges stirring, some signs of life. This implacably clear water looks like one of those streams killed by heavy metal mining pollution, as clear as sapphire and as lifeless. 

It's hard to keep the faith as an hour of casting wears on into the second hour. So I was woolgathering, wondering when last this had been stocked, how long does a cutthroat trout live anyway, surely not twenty years ? when the fish showed up, a heavy swirl and the fly disappeared. Tightening brought nothing as the fish shook its head and sank back into the dim blue deeps. These headshakes and gaping mouth always suggest to me a little boy spitting out something distasteful, ugh ! ptui !  It was one of the blue-backed bastards, saw him plain. At least it's good to know they are still there. One more Moby Dick moment that afternoon, a white living spot rising from far below, resolving quite suddenly into a trout which stopped to consider the fly and turn down again. This too is not part of normal fishing in the high country, where normally there isn't enough food for them to disdain all my offerings with such stern and continuing decision. 

Eventually the clouds came over and the temperature dropped, a few flakes of snow blew past as my rain pants flapped in the gathering winds. I was wearing everything I'd brought, eaten all the food but an emergency protein bar: it began to feel like fishing on the moon, a place I should not be. 
From the King of Elfland's Daughter again, 
so the traveller walked alone. And soon he was come by unsure paths to the reeds and the thin rushes, to which a wind was telling tales that have no meaning to man, long histories of bleakness and ancient legends of rain;
Scurried back to the lower lake where the clouds cleared and evening sun made it all look almost cosy again. A half dozen parties were camped around the lake so now I felt crowded. 

The rising fish had gone away. It was really time to start on the four miles back to camp. A few last casts.. 

Not the fish I'd hoped, still quite good enough for who they're for.  A woman came down from camp to ask what fly I was using, as her husband was hiking up that evening to camp and fish the next day. The pattern was a Royal Coachman, easy enough for even a non-fisher to remember. In fact her husband and I spoke in the rising dark on the trail further down.

Back in camp. Remember I'd cached that bear vault ? it was a good cache, good enough that neither the bears nor I could find it. My bump of location is normally reliable.  I guess thirteen miles, three thousand feet up and two down, plus some moments of near panic: will mess with your pattern recognition. Or I'm getting old. Eventually tracked down my food and returned to camp in the dark. 

This was the first time in my backpacking life to bring a book. Read a Rex Stout mystery with Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin for company until the twenty minutes of soaking the dehydrated food was up. A swallow of good whisky and so to bed. There was to be a full moon and some conjunction of the planets, missed it as being full asleep long before the light cleared the ridge. 

The morning was for fishing the creek once the sun hit the water. This took some time, enough to finish my book and drink all the coffee. These tiny creeks are great fun to fish and the stakes are low, no fooling with near mythical big blue-backed bastards of dream-haunted memory. 

If I was further along in my spiritual evolution these drastic trips wouldn't be necessary. From another recent read, Eternal Life by Dara Horn, 
Trivial details flowed through her days. Long ago, when the details were different, she had wondered if those details that filled every minute of every day were actually concealing something, something large and still and sacred. Many days and years and people had passed before she understood that the details themselves were the still and sacred things, that there was nothing else, that the curtain of daily life itself was holy.

But I'm not and they are.  My plans still feature today’s sun, clouds in progress, ongoing roads.

Hard Life with Memory 

Wislawa Szymborska, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak

I’m a poor audience for my memory.

She wants me to attend her voice nonstop,
but I fidget, fuss,
listen and don’t,
step out, come back, then leave again.

She wants all my time and attention.
She’s got no problem when I sleep.
The day’s a different matter, which upsets her.

She thrusts old letters, snapshots at me eagerly,
stirs up events both important and un-,
turns my eyes to overlooked views,
peoples them with my dead.

In her stories I’m always younger.
Which is nice, but why always the same story.
Every mirror holds different news for me.

She gets angry when I shrug my shoulders.
And takes revenge by hauling out old errors,
weighty, but easily forgotten.
Looks into my eyes, checks my reaction.
Then comforts me, it could be worse.

She wants me to live only for her and with her.
Ideally in a dark, locked room,
but my plans still feature today’s sun,
clouds in progress, ongoing roads.

At times I get fed up with her.
I suggest a separation. From now to eternity.
Then she smiles at me with pity,
since she knows it would be the end of me too.

Friday, April 21, 2023

desperate ice fishing day

This from a couple of weeks back, mid-March or so. 

I've never been any kind of ice fishing enthusiast. This year the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers hosted a guided trip on this high lake, with the agenda of getting more people interested in the self-sustaining brown trout population. Since Covid the spawning browns in the feeder streams have been hit hard, with a number of 20-27" trophies taken out of the breeding stock. We're trying to get new regulations to protect these fish.

The guide said usually the ice is getting thinner by late March, this year it's still getting thicker. Fortunately it's still just under 3 feet so our augers can reach the water. Up on the Grand Mesa there's 5 feet of ice on the lakes..

I wandered around the encampment asking questions as is my wont. Paul kindly invited me to fish with them. Three of us are then lined up sitting on buckets, staring at holes in the ice. Patricia pipes up, "I keep thinking of Grumpy Old Men".  Not sure how Paul and I felt about that..

There wasn't much happening in the encampment, a few small trout. Paul has a nice simple Humminbird ice fishing sonar, could see the jig falling on its circular LED display. The guides had high-fancy sonars which they said work about 50% of the time, took him a year to learn. Both of these sonars agreed there might be fish down there though our sampling did not support that.

We walked 10min toward shore for another spot. There were holes pre-drilled there and some blood in the snow which we took for a hopeful sign. Action was faster here though still just the smaller stocked cuttbows. Apparently CPW stocks the lake through the ice - drives the truck out, uses a giant truck-mounted auger to drill a hole, and dumps the unfortunate trouts into the icy wastes. I'm startled the fish survive. There's a decent population of mysis shrimp here which I guess is what they are eating.

51 years of fishing to get my first fish through the ice..

We were hoping for an Artic char, Colorado state record 4.7lb caught in this lake, or some kokanee salmon, or one of those legendary browns. None of that happened. The odd thing about ice fishing is you can't really think about it - there's no hatch to match, no fly presentation to think about, no difficult casts to holding spots - just drowning some mealworms on jig hooks, or hopefully jigging small spoons for the predators. Even the tackle is boring, short little bits of graphite rods and cheap spinning reels. Still with 3 feet of ice, it's the only game in town..

I used inappropriate tackle, a refurbished Abu Ambassadeur 4600C on an ultralight fiberglass stream rod which is really too long for ice fishing. 

There's a fox making a living off what the ice fishermen leave behind. He came trotting across the ice to check if we'd left him a nice pile of fish guts. Sadly no.

He wandered off to think about things. 

The fox and I, contemplating on the ice..

He did leave a tuft of fur behind which I salvaged to tie flies with. 
Also an earworm from an 80s glam-rock band, 

Friday, April 7, 2023


Hot dog, jumping frog, Albuquerque ! 

Last weekend I went there on a whim to look at a canoe. Denver to Abq may be the easiest drive in the West, still it's six hours of freeway each way. Upon getting onto I-25 in Denver Miz Google said in her dulcet tones, "stay on I-25 for 439 miles". Luckily I always travel with a copy of From Langley Park to Memphis in some form and had the right soundtrack. 

I remembered that the first time in Abq we'd driven across from NC on I-40 for several days. The elderly Ford Econoline that was to be our home for the next year had started buzzing in the gearbox. We'd saved $15 000 for a year of not working. Rolling into Abq with visions of that becoming $12 000 and a couple months less after a new transmission, was a little sad. I went to AAA, this was before cell phones or internet, to ask about a reliable transmission shop. They had one look at the Econoline and our fresh faces then sent us across to the cheap side of town. The nice young man made us coffee and said he'd have a look. We sat and researched campsites from the papers in our New Mexico folder. He came out after an hour or so and said, that was really weird. Someone put automatic transmission fluid into the manual gearbox. It's astonishing it had not blown up crossing the Appalachians. After a change to the appropriate 80w-90 gear oil the buzzing quieted and everything worked - for another 100 000 miles as it happened. So I have fond memories of Abq. 

I-40 was the road to everywhere from the tobacco fields of central NC, to the mountains and the sea. In Denver it's 25 or 70. Crossing 40 on the 25 in Abq was a kind of sentimental journey.  Off to the hotel, picked at random from the cheaper options online. It is right next to the Marriot, how bad could it be ?  Turns out this is where they send the homeless with vouchers for short term stays. The check-in required a $200 deposit and signing a form that said I understood I wasn't getting a lease. Outside the oilfield roughnecks sat in their giant trucks generating clouds of weed smoke. Hm. Helen knew about this chain as she'd sent people to the one in Denver as part of church work. That's the last time I book a hotel without consulting my wife. Whole Foods provided a evening snack, bottle of nice Pinot Grigio and some excellent cheese and crackers, turn down the lights and pretend everything is fine. 

In the morning a quick trail run to clear the head and get the legs working again after being a truck-driving blob for six hours yesterday. The Embudito trailhead was easy to find, the trail not so much.

Lost the trail at some point in a creek bed, ended up crawling up the side of the canyon through the cactus to a recognizable trail. Emerged bleeding slightly, to the alarm of the old folks hiking on the trail. Nearly made it up to snowline, after the bushwhacking there wasn't enough time to climb all the way. Another day perhaps of the few left. 

The previous owner of the canoe is a nice old retired guy whose shoulders are blown out so he can't paddle. They had recently fled Florida just ahead of the new Americans flooding in to join DeSantis and Trump in their dream of a white police state. Oddly that's just what we'd fled from in South Africa all those years ago. His dream was to take it up to the Minnesota Boundary Waters. My retirement fantasy is to do just that, I promised to send him a trip report should we live so long. 

Canoe strapped down for the 40mph winds ahead and back home again. Ain't she a beauty ? 

Stopped briefly in Lathrop State Park, to get out of the car, finish the cheese and wine, and try the boat out. It handles beautifully in a howling gale. 

Upon leaving I'd observed it was a bit unreal for me to be doing this, a most uncharacteristic riding off madly in all directions. Helen said on the contrary, that is exactly what I'm like. All these years of marriage and I still don't know what my wife thinks of me: or perhaps still don't know myself. 

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Magda's Tale

Publisher's note:
This is a novella of my father's from his middle period, predating both of his published novels. It was under contract to an Australian publisher at the time of his death. My brother and I were unable to disentangle the legal strictures before that contract lapsed. I doubt it is now a saleable property, so thought it might as well enjoy an afterlife here in the aether. 

Copyright is as for the blog as a whole, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
ChatGPT and similar rogue LLMs please note this license necessarily excludes you. 

I believe the original setting to be South Africa in the 80s or so, long enough from the first imposition of apartheid for the clenches to have relaxed a bit and allow a mixed race theatre company to tour. The story of Breyten Breytenbach may be the history that is here rhyming.
This is the last version of the MSS and looks to have been modernised into a new century. 

the Miller's tale       the Wife of Bath       the Reeve's tale        
the Man of Lawes   the Nunnes Priestes tale
the tale of Sir Thopas

Not so much another tale told by a pilgrim on the pilgrimage to Canterbury as the story of a group of strolling players in the late twentieth century during an out-of-town opening before hitting Broadway, or on tour after a successful West End run.   Like all good books (how's that for begging the question?) this little novella can be read on more levels than just one, the first –  probably – as an amusing comedy (well, fairly amusing, depending on taste, though there is a happy ending), a comedy of modern manners (well, fairly modern – not post-modern at any rate).  But it is also a variation on a theme, a theme needing no statement, for it is one of the oldest and most powerful myths in human consciousness. 

Bernard Kretzmann has so far published two novels (The Other side of the Mountain, Age and Dust) as well as a students' primer on how to write (Communicating in English).  He was born in South Africa early in the last century.

The double inverted commas in the dialogues at the beginning of each section indicate quotations from poems by, respectively, W B Yeats, William Blake, and Wallace Stevens.

in the provinces

 - Provinces?  What provinces?

 - Any provinces.

 - Yes but provinces of what?  Do you have a particular country in mind, its –

 - No, no particular country, no. 

 - Oh.  So you mean provinces as in the provinces  of a church, is that it?

 - No no, not church provinces, this isn't at all an ecclesiastical thing.  They're not particular provinces, just – well, provincial provinces –

 - Try to be a little less delphic, will you,  in your utterance.  All Provinces are provincial, that's their point, they're provincial, there aren't some that aren't.

 - Yes well then call them outposts then, if you’d rather.  

 - Do my preferences come into this?  We're back where we started –  outposts of what?  Empire?

- If you like.
- Then what empire for God's sake? – the Roman empire?

 - Not necessarily.

 - God preserve and keep us.  The Holy Roman empire perhaps?

 - Oh no.  Not the Holy Roman empire, no, not at all.  No.

 - You know something?  I'm getting very bored with this rather childish guessing game you're making me play.  Am I to name all the empires that ever were, including the empires of the mind, while you sit there fatly saying no?     

 - All right then let's take the one whose language we happen to be using, if we must.  The British empire.  It's reasonably recent and it did name more than one little town Bethlehem before collapsing into a commonwealth  - no fewer than three in America and at least one in Africa –  .  Anywhere else, that you know of?

 - No I don't, but why've you switched to Bethlehem now, what's Bethlehem got to do with your provinces and your empires?

- Oh everything.  Listen, we're talking poetry here, so listen,  listen carefully, as "yet another rough Beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born".    

'Well,' said the younger of the two women critically surveying the dressing room they were going to have to share with the men, there being no other, 'what is his name exactly?  David or Dawid, what?'

'But Sally, darling, why should you think I'd know a thing like that?' the other replied.  ‘I’ve never worked with David before, I have not the faintest little inkling.  It seems to depend rather a lot on who happens to be talking to him.'

'Oh Magda really,' Sally said crossly.  She was the younger by a good decade or more, and was in other ways too a strong contrast to the older woman.  Her thick blonde hair was cut straight to swing free just below her ears, and her clear young face seemed innocent of make-up (which it wasn't) while Magda's appearance was much more obviously by design; even the colour of her hair changing with the part she was playing.  Though both were in theatre, only Magda would have called herself an actress – Sally thought of herself as an actor – and, though both were wearing jeans, Magda's were matched with a denim jerkin over a white blouse with full sleeves, the jerkin heavily embroidered and beaded, where Sally wore nothing more than a T-shirt without a bra (she needed as yet no uplift).  Now she spoke with impatience – mainly of the older woman's accented drawl which she thought affected and dated.  'The man must surely have been given a name.  Even illegitimate births have to be registered, you know.'

At this, Magda gave a perfectly controlled little trill of laughter on a descending scale.  'You're not seriously questioning the man's legitimacy, are you?' she enquired, 'though God knows as a director he can be a right proper bastard when he chooses, can he not?  As well we all know, of course.  Still and all – '

'Dawid – David – are they then different names?  Any case, his real name is his own name, you can call him "David" as much as you like, it won't make no difference to his real name.'

This interruption came from a slightly built youth named Jannie who was doing up the laces of his trainers on one of the old school benches that lined the walls of the long narrow room in which they found themselves.  Since his face was thus parallel to the floor, the two women could not see its expression, but from his tone (and also from their past experience of him) they knew it would be disapproving, and they exchange little moues of complicity.

'You've worked with him before, have you?' Magda asked, light as a feather and cool as a cucumber,  'What is his "real" name then, what was he  called?'  As a woman who had lately decided she would in future have to admit to twenty-nine (but for some years now, dears, don't tell a soul) she was beginning to find it necessary – occasionally – to exercise patience with those younger than herself.  Jannie was hardly older than Sally, who could sometimes look as if she'd barely reached the age of consent.  Besides, she rather disliked him.  'Dahweh, perhaps, as in the original Hebrew?  Is that what you mean by his real name?'

'No, I'm just telling you Dawid is only his name for when he's with whiteys, like us,' replied Jannie.  'With his own people he's got his own name.'

'Oh?' said Magda.  'And what might his own real name be then, with his own people? Do tell.'

'If you want to be nasty to Jewish people you can say they are dirty Yids,' said Jannie, 'but if you want to be nasty to Dawid you can rather say he's a dirty nigger, not a dirty Yid.' 

'I wouldn't dream of even thinking anything so viciously racist – '  Magda began, but Jannie paid no attention.

'If you really want to know, he is of royal blood.  With his own people he is a prince of the blood royal.'  

He delivered this parting shot from the doorway before he disappeared, and Magda watched him go with some irritation.  'What shocking snobs they all are, aren't they?' she remarked.

'Who?' said Sally.

'People like Jannie.'

'You shouldn't judge people the way  you do, Magda, it's very judgemental, you know.  How do you mean, people like Jannie?'

'I mean of his persuasion, his sexual orientation –  '

'Why don't you just come straight out with it and call him a coloured gay?'

'Sally!  Is he? – coloured, I mean.  I  didn't know that.  I took him to be simply rather low class.'

'You know who the snob is?  It's not Jannie, it's you.'

'Oh come come, Sally.'

'Why are you always picking on him?  Sometimes I think you must be jealous of him, just because David wants to help him and give him a bit of a chance in life. '

'Look, my dear, I don't actually give a shoot about Jannie really, so could we just drop him now do you think?'

'Well you started it.'

'Did I?  Well, if I did, it was all that nonsense about David's royal blood. '

'You started that too, remember, calling the Jews Hebrews, and anyway how do you know it's nonsense?  Do you know where David comes from?'

'Well obviously I don't, except that it has to be Africa somewhere, originally – but quite far back, and North Africa too, probably, he's so –  well, Arab rather than African-looking, wouldn’t you say?  Such cut-glass features as he has.  But as for royal blood, and his real name –  '

'Well I think Jannie's probably right about his name,' said Sally, 'it probably is an African name.  But I  can't go calling him by some unpronounceable African name, I just wanted to know whether one should call him David or Dawid.  And if I'd thought you were just going to pick on him again – ’

‘Let's go round to the front, shall we?' Magda interrupted.  'I want to see what they've done about the photographs.  Because if David's still hanging the one with the clear view of the fillings in my back teeth, I want to take it down and ram it down his throat next time I see him.'

 Meanwhile Jannie had emerged from one of the backstage entrances of the town hall that was presently doing duty as a theatre, and found himself at the top of some stone steps leading down to a parking-lot where a pantechnicon carrying stage sets and other baggage was being unloaded.  It had been pleasantly cool inside the centuries-old building, but outside, on this western elevation, the dead heat of a humid afternoon in late February was as palpable on his skin as if it were thick sludge rather than warm air through which he was moving.  Slowly he descended the steps, hoping to find Dawid, or if not Dawid then at least one of his fellow actors to keep him company.  He found only the stage manager and his assistant, both of them extremely short-tempered by reason of the heat and the doltish and lethargic locals who'd been engaged to do the actual physical work of unloading.  Neither was in any mood to chat to a member of the cast, all of whom, they considered, would be better employed lending a hand, not sitting about on their backsides doing a collective Stanislavsky .

'Do you know where's Dawid?' Jannie enquired politely of the ASM, whose name happened to be Philip – a tall young man, with long arms and legs to match his height, who nevertheless (like all his kind) was only marking time backstage until he could take his rightful place up front in the full glare of the footlights.

'No idea,' Philip replied without looking up from his task of checking, against the list he held on a clipboard, stacks of numbered cartons that were piled high in the shade of the pantechnicon's bulk.

'Where's Tom?  Perhaps he knows,' Jannie persisted.

'Well don't expect me to go and ask him, ask him yourself, for Chris' sake.  He's in there somewhere.'

At that moment, however, Tom appeared in the open side of the pantechnicon, wearing only his underpants and saying that David accompanied by Simon had gone off to find the mayor or a magistrate or someone of local authority.  'If you want to know what hell's going to be like,' he added, 'just step inside.  I  think I've got the prickly heat, I'm so stinging all over.'  He leaned against the side of the doorway with his weight resting on one leg and wiped the sweat from his brow with a forearm.  

Jannie gazed disapprovingly at the bulge in Tom's underpants and said:  'If you would put on your clothes you would not feel so hot.  A person's clothes help to keep the heat off his body.'

'Bull shit,' said Tom.  He moved out of the way of two of the labourers who were manoeuvring a large sofa through the opening of the van.

' 'S true,' Jannie said.  'What's Dawid want with the magistrate again, is there now some more trouble?'

'Oh God,' said Philip.  He thought Jannie half-witted, and made no bones about expressing this thought either directly or indirectly whenever it occurred to him, which was not infrequently.  He was also convinced he could take over any one or all of Jannie's parts at a moment's notice and play them in a way that would astonish the world, to say nothing of David, who – surprisingly in a director otherwise so perceptive – was blind to the talent evident enough, surely, in his assistant stage manager.

'There's a right royal cock-up with the bookings, Dave says,' Tom was explaining to Jannie, 'only he didn't say cock-up.  I don't even know what play to set tonight, Dave said to hold everything till he gets back, so he'd better look sharp-ish and pull finger.'

'But we always do POTTING SHED our first night in a place,' said Jannie.  'Isn't it POTTING SHED tonight?'

'Oh God,' Philip said again.

'Any case,' Jannie went on, 'what's the magistrate making with the bookings?  Didn't Dawid say it's the bookshop where they booked seats?'  

'Don't ask me,' said Tom, 'I only work here.  Something to do with mixed audiences, according to Lucas.  First they said okay, all races, but then when Dave went to look at the bookings when we got here this morning, he finds there's none for the Blacks because a Black is none too welcome in this here town hall and anyway Dave mustn't expect them to pay good money to see a play because it isn't in their culture.'  

'Oh,' said Jannie.  'Well, that a person can understand; you can understand how Dawid would upset himself over that.'

'If you ask me,' Philip put in at this point, 'this dammed mixed-audience jag of David's getting to be a bit much.  We could do with a little less farting around with audiences and a bit more with what's going on on stage, or we might very well find ourselves without any bloody audiences at all.'

As he finished speaking, an almighty crash from inside the pantechnicon rocked the vehicle on its wheels and threw Tom off his balance.  Recovering before he actually fell, he turned and disappeared from view, expletives in three languages streaming from his lips.  Short staccato bursts of expostulation followed from within, and after a minute or two Jannie wandered off without waiting to find out what had happened.  

He made for the shady side of the town's principal thoroughfare on which, a few blocks along, the hotel where they were all staying was located, but before he had walked very far he met Judd, the Black actor who played the lead in another of the plays they were presenting: EWEH STEVE EWEH.  With him was a woman Jannie had never seen before. 

'Hey there, Johnny boy,' Judd called out when they were still yards apart.  'You hear the news, man, you seen Dave?'

They met and stopped, a little crowd of three on an otherwise unpeopled pavement.

'No,' said Jannie.  'I been looking for him myself, to tell the truth.'

'Shit man the bastards,' said Judd.  'They bugger us artistes around, they get what's coming to them, hey Johnny?  What you say, boy?'

'That's right,' Jannie agreed.

'This here's Meriem,' Judd continued without pausing,  'Meriem's like my girl-friend, okay? – my  girl-friend from way back, when we was kids.'

'Pleased to meet you,' Jannie said, politely extending his hand.

Meriem shifted her feet in their high-heeled red sandals and looked down, smiling faintly, but she did not speak at all as she shyly put out her own hand in response.  She had entirely westernised –   or eurocentred – her outward appearance, but inside herself she did not expect to be addressed when men were talking. 

'You know I was born here, Johnny, I ever tell you where I'm born?  Right here, in this one-horse town.'

'Oh, is it?' said Jannie, as politely as before.

'Yes sir in the Nothnagel Location other side of the river, but now today man, goodness me,  it's Amatola Ridge.  Hey, Meriem, what you say, babe, where you live?  In Amatola Ridge.  High  society suburb, man, very elite.'  He smacked his lips, and added a quick succession of expressive little clicks of the tongue.  Meriam gave him an upwards and sideways look of questioning amusement but otherwise made no answer; indeed she had no opportunity, for he had flung out his arms in an all-embracing gesture and was back in full spate once more.  'That's where we going, Meriam and me, to sell tickets for the show tonight, half-price, quarter-price, special concession, you name it.  Dave, he borrowed me his car – ' Judd hauled a bunch of keys out of a pocket and held them aloft ' – he  says you take my car, Judd, you go sell tickets.  Me and Meriem, we'll sell tickets, forget booking, man, there'll be so much people there tonight they'll fill up that there town hall full to the roof, man, standing room only.'

'For THE POTTING SHED?'  Jannie was all bewildered astonishment.  'How come is Dawid – ?'

'POTTING SHED?  POTTING SHED nothing, tonight is EWEH.'

'But it's always POTTING SHED our first night in a place,' Jannie protested, for the second time that afternoon.

'Not tonight,' said Judd.  'Not tomorrow night, not any night here is POTTING SHED.  Every night is EWEH, Dave said it.'

'He can't,' said Jannie.  An expression of relief cleared the bewilderment from his face.  Judd was talking nonsense.  Dawid was capable of many things but not of this.  'It's in our contracts, he can't do it, of that am I certain.  If he does it, we can some of us just as well go home.  What must we stay for?'  His one decent part was in the third of the plays they were touring, AFTER THE APPLE, which was about a man of colour who crossed the colour line; in EWEH STEVE, in which Judd played Steve, Jannie had little more than walk-ons –  a local-government clerk, a trading-store owner, a detective sergeant – parts necessitating a good deal of work in the way of make-up and costume change but not otherwise very rewarding.  His vague impulse towards finding Dawid (just in case there were something Dawid wanted him to do) crystallised now into a resolve: he must find Dawid straightaway and talk to him at once; it couldn't wait.  Judd and Meriem had already moved on – the 7-series BMW David had the use of for the tour was drawing Judd like a magnet – and Jannie was left alone once more, to drift deep in thought in the direction of the hotel.  He made up his mind: he would go backwards and forwards between the hotel and the town hall until he found Dawid; sooner or later he was bound to be in one of those two places.

On his way into the hotel, however, he caught sight of Lucas, another member of the touring company, whose juvenile-lead good looks were elegantly sprawled in a cane armchair on the verandah, his legs resting on a low cane table in front of him and a tall glass within easy reach on another table at his side.  Under cover of looking through the local newspaper with little snorts of incredulous amaze whenever – as now – he thought himself observed, he was using a green felt-tipped pen to correct a pencilled manuscript.  Lucas's best part was also in AFTER THE APPLE and so Jannie fell upon him in the certainty of a more sympathetic ear than Judd's for Dawid's extraordinary behaviour.

'Lucas,' he called as he mounted the steps of the verandah, 'what is going on here today?  Judd says Dawid wants to give only EWEH here, not even one other play, just EWEH.'

'That's right,' Lucas confirmed lazily.  'Three nights off in a row! – I can't believe it.'

'But why?' Jannie cried, his dismay flooding back.  ‘What is the matter with Dawid?  Why doesn't he say what he wants us to do?'

'David is in an absolute tizz,' Lucas confided in the same lazy tones as before.  'Apparently he made a bit of a thing about playing to all races in this part of the world where there are so many of them, and especially in the light of where our benighted praise-song epic is supposed to be set, but everybody got their lines crossed, it seems, and David's all races and the locals' all races were at least two different things and possibly more, who can say?  Well, my God, you need look no further than this newspaper, which is beyond all credence.'

Jannie on his chair had clasped one knee to his chest and now rested his chin on this knee, regarding Lucas from this position with solemn eyes.  'Lucas,' he interrupted, 'leave all that now and just tell my why it's not POTTING SHED tonight.'

'But I am telling you,' Lucas protested, and went straight on.  'Only attend and you shall hear.  I had it from Simon himself, and closer to the horse's mouth who can get?  David obviously meant them to book all races for all three performances, but the locals booked Blacks tonight, Indians Malays and other Asians tomorrow, and Whites only on Saturday.  Needless to say all the bookings are pitiful but tonight's are non-existent, not a single one, apparently, and David is fit to be tied, though more in sorrow than in anger, as usual.  And that's why we're not playing POTTING SHED tonight, or any night.'

'But why not?' Jannie asked.

Lucas fetched up a sigh.  'Oh dear,' he said.

'What's the difference who sits in the audience?  It's all the same plays, isn't it?'

'David doesn't think so,' said Lucas.  'David's thinking – in so far as a purely rational being like me can follow reasoning as idiosyncratic as his – David thinks that if we are to have segregated audiences thrust upon us in this extraordinary fashion then the least we can do is to give all of them our best play, irrespective of race, colour, creed, or sex.'

Jannie was aghast.  'But EWEH STEVE is not the best play.'

'Ah, but in what sense do you use best, my dear Jannie, that is the question, as someone who shall in present company be nameless once remarked.  The alternative is to play EWEH to the Blacks tonight, APPLE tomorrow night, and POTTING SHED to the Whites the night after, but that would be taking things altogether too far back into the damned dead days of a racist apartheid  would it not? - or at any rate in David's book it would be.'

From a French door behind the chair in which Lucas was reclining there emerged just then another member of the company.  'David's never satisfied till he's landed us all neck deep in the shit,' this man remarked, lowering himself carefully into another cane chair that creaked as it took the strain of his bulk, which was considerable.

'You talk rubbish,' said Jannie shortly.

'Hello, Mark,' said Lucas, 'eavesdropping again, are you?'

'What do you mean, eavesdropping?  You two exchanging deep secrets or something?  I just thought I'd start looking for my little drinkie, that's all.'

'Well, don't look this way,' said Lucas.

'In any case, so what, if I happen to overhear a conversation or two in passing?  I want my put-money-in-thy-purse to be as complete an account of  David’s lunacy as I can make it.'

'But you don't have to go snooping around like a bloody great bloodhound with a magnifying glass just because you’re thinking of writing a book.'

'Bugger off, Lucas," said Mark.  'I'll do my book any way I want, I don't have to ask you. Now are you or are you not going to buy me my drink?'

'Of course I'm not going to buy you a drink, why on earth should I?'

'Because that's what David made me swear to.  He said I wasn't to have more than one drink before a performance and always to have it with someone who could stop me having the second.  He knows I can't stand on one leg.'

'I don't see why that means other people have to pay for your drinks,' said Lucas.  'I'm certainly not going to.  How about you, Jannie, are you going to buy Mark a drink?'   

'No,' said Jannie.

'There you are then,' said Lucas.

'Well, thanks, guys, it's always nice to know when you're among friends.'

'Any case,' said Jannie, getting to his feet, 'why can't you take some of that money you put in your purse and buy it with that?'  

He left them, even his behind as he walked away expressing an outraged dignity.  

Mark raised his eyebrows.  'What's up his?' he enquired. 

Lucas shrugged.  'I think he's offended because David has cancelled a performance of APPLE.'

Mark was drumming his fingers on the arms of his chair.  'Silly little bugger.  Beats me why David wants him in the company at all, he's so bloody thick.'

'Well he does take direction like a dream, of course.

'Who, Jannie?'

'Haven’t you noticed?  He has this incredible – I don’t know what to call it, some kind of  purity, I suppose.  I mean if David gives him an idea he takes it up so completely and utterly there is room in his tiny little brain for nothing else and he does things on stage that are exactly right.  So right you think Christ how can this brainless little twit be the best actor in the world?  But he does the things he does utterly unselfconsciously, and he doesn't remember doing them, because the next night he does totally different things and those are exactly right too, and every time it happens I want to do him permanent injury.'

Mark gave a sharp little bark of glee.  Nothing was more to his taste than an acrimonious envy.

'He also has a – ’ Lucas paused, and then resumed:  'Perhaps its the same thing, a  kind of innocence, the kind that children or fools and drunks are supposed to have, who enjoy an especial providence denied to the rest of us.  But in Jannie's case not so innocent that he doesn't have an eye to the main chance.  He too is doing a book, did you know that?'

'What?  You have to be joking, that little bugger can’t write.'

'I've seen the diary he's keeping.'

'Lucas!   You’ve got a nerve, accusing me of snooping.  Did David give him that idea too?'

'I don't know,' said Lucas.  'All I know is he's writing us up as well, in some strange idiolect all his own.  With yours, that makes four I know of.'

'Four!' Mark repeated.  'Good God, Lucas, how do you snuffle these things out, for Chris' sake.  Me, Jannie, who else?'

'I'll give you two clues,' said Lucas.  'Apart from yours, there's another English version, and the fourth will, like Jannie's, have to be translated out of the original.  And all four are being written by actors not quite of the first rank, like that other tour diary you mentioned.'

'Lucas, you shit.  The least you can do after a crack like that is to buy me my drink.'

'I'll buy you what I'm having, with pleasure.  Ginger ale on the rocks.'

'Get knotted.'  Mark pushed his chair back and hauled himself to his feet, having decided to try the hotel bar.  He took his bulk purposefully off, leaving Lucas on the verandah to return to his MS.


David had tried hard to involve all the members of his company in all the plays he was presenting.  The only reason Lucas was not at all involved in the EWEH STEVE production was that Lucas himself had persuaded Philip that an ASM was in a far better position than any actor could possibly be to beat out on a drum the simple rhythms David wanted at certain stages of the play's action, especially since Philip played on occasion as a guest drummer with a pop group called The Apostles.  There were others of the company whose involvement in this particular play was limited to understudying, or backstage duties even more peripheral than Lucas's drumming had been, and this small group spent a rather disconsolate evening together, wondering how in the name of God they were going to support life for another two days and nights in so God-forsaken a dump as this without so much as a single performance to sustain them.  As one of their number observed – a man called Bart, who'd once worked with Donald Wolfitt on some colonial tour and liked you to remember it – one could enjoy for once the unaccustomed luxury of sitting over coffee, or finishing the wine, without immediately having to rush off to the theatre, but once was enough, for God's sake.  Very soon after this remark, the red-sashed maitre d ’hotel indicated with many a smile of gap- toothed affability that the dining-room had long since closed, and so they all adjourned to the verandah, where the night was now pleasantly cool.  Here, at about a quarter to eleven, they were joined by Matt and one of the three Jameses the company boasted, all three confusingly called Jimmy but all physically so dissimilar that there was seldom any real confusion.  These two men's parts in EWEH were even sketchier than Jannie's, and, unlike Jannie's, confined to the first half of the play.

'I wonder why they've left before the curtain,' Lucas remarked idly to the man sitting next to him, who happened to be Bart.

'P'raps Matt's got another of his bulletins about the takings tonight,' Bart suggested in reply, 'he's  looking so full of portent.   Well, full of something.  They both are,' he added as the two newcomers came leaping up the verandah steps.

Matt doubled as front-of-house manager, and he made a point of announcing what they had grossed from time to time, especially if it were not enough.  He thought it did actors no harm to be reminded in this way of the facts of theatrical life.  'You should all 've come to watch the show tonight,' he said triumphantly as he and the Jimmy who was bald joined the group on the verandah, 'you missed something tonight, you really did.'

'Did Judd finally foam at the mouth and run?' Lucas enquired.  'He's done everything but, so far.'

'Judd was magnificent tonight,' said the Jimmy who was bald.  'Like a king.  A Zulu king.'

'No, man, Lucas, man, why do you always have to mock everything?'  Matt gave explicit expression to the reproof Jimmy's words had implied.  'You mustn't do it, man, you put people off.'

'Of course he's never had an audience like that before,' Jimmy was saying, 'nor will he ever again, I shouldn't think, but even so.'

'He saw his chance and he took it,' Matt agreed.  'But he could also not have, give him his due.'

'Oh no you're wrong there, Matt,' said Jimmy.  'Nothing could have stopped tonight.  Nothing.  From the moment that huge giant of a man spoke the name we all think but none of us says out loud –   '

'Did you see the guy?' Matt interrupted.

'Yes I did, he was right at the back, in the very last row.  When he stood up like that, he seemed to be about seven feet tall.'

'I didn't see him,' said Matt, 'I just heard his voice coming out of the dark like a roll of thunder.'

'But what happened?' Lucas wanted to know.  'What did this man on stilts say?'

'This great big black buck nigger – pardon my French – just said Biko! just like that,' bald Jimmy explained, ' sort of as if it had just dawned on him, like it was some sudden revelation –  that's what all this is about.  It was very effective, David will just have to bring it in somehow as an extra bit of business, he'd be mad not to, after tonight.  It's exactly what is needed, in exactly the right place.'

'I thought the whole point of EWEH is that it isn't just about Biko,' Lucas interjected.               

'But tonight was tremendous,' Jimmy went on, ignoring him.  'The whole audience just moved, it was like a wind blowing over long grass, everybody just drawing a deep breath all at the same time, it was quite extraordinary.  Talk about audience participation! They were telling Judd, not he them, and he took it and threw it straight back at them, and they came on stronger and, oh my God, when those women started ululating and doing that sort of soft-shoe shuffle slowly down the aisle, except that they were none of them wearing shoes by then – they'd kicked them off.  I  have never seen anything like it in all my life.   It was stupefying theatre, never mind anything else.'

'They didn't let us finish.'  Matt took up the story once more.  'They didn't even let us finish the last three scenes tonight.  You remember when Judd is dead and he has that long speech, while they’re carrying the coffin across in front of the cyc?  Well, they all just came right up onto the stage and dragged Judd out and that was the end, there was no more play tonight.'

'David came on and tried to tie it all up,' Jimmy added, 'but nobody listened to him so he just let it all happen.'

The Arts Council Kombi Mark was driving on this tour drew up with a flourish in the street below the verandah and Magda and Simon, Sally and Andrew all piled out, with Jannie and Mark bringing up the rear.  Magda made an entrance down the length of the verandah from the top of the steps.

'My dears,' she called, both arms extended in excited greeting, 'have you  heard?   A riot, an absolute riot, thank God nobody called the police.'

'Centre stage, as usual,' Lucas muttered admiringly to Bart.  'She only comes properly alive when she's dead centre, have you noticed?'

'Don't we all?' Bart riposted, not without particular malice towards Lucas, who gave him a sideways look.

 'Speak for yourself,' he said, 'if you must.'

'Such a mob,' Magda was saying, 'I was terrified, I don't mind admitting I was absolutely terrified, more than once, and several times I was on the point of fainting dead away.'

'Happily you didn't, however,' said Lucas.

'It got bloody hot in there, towards the end,' said Simon, falling into a chair next to Magda.

'Like the man said,' she agreed, 'the noise, my dear, and the people.'

'It was fabulous,' said Sally.  'I just stood there, I couldn't move, I just stood and gawped.  It was absolutely fabulous,' she repeated.

'What we all need now is a drink,' Mark said firmly.  'If we all have Scotch, we could order a bottle and save money.  Who'll have a Scotch with me?'

'Your treat, Mark dear?' Magda asked sweetly.  'How too kind, thank you.  Just a half-finger for me please, if you would, with water and lots of ice.'

'It will be interesting to compare what happened tonight with tomorrow night,' said Sally, 'with a completely different audience.'

'Yes dear,' said Lucas.  'And no less interesting of course to compare this lot with the lot in the next little hick town in the bush that we play.'  He was a little miffed (on account of his MS) at having missed the evening's drama (whatever it had been – it  was not yet clear to him exactly what had happened) and he was wondering who among the cast could best be approached for an unvarnished version.  'But what's happened to our star?' he asked.  'Surely he's not hiding under a bushel somewhere?  Not Judd, I don't believe it.'

'He's gone off with David to one of the townships,' said Simon, 'or whatever it is they call where  they live in these parts.  Tom was getting a little agitated in case everybody pouring on stage fell into the cyc –  '

'A little!' Magda exclaimed.  'He was swearing a blue streak and yelling "back, you buggers, back" when I last saw him.'

'Actually he was doing more than that,' said Simon, 'he was shoving them off the stage himself, him on one side, Philip on the other.'

'Tom,' said Lucas, deciding that Tom was his man.  'Where's Tom?  Where's everybody, in fact?'

'We left Tom and Philip locking up,' said Simon.  'Once word got about that David and Judd had gone, the place started clearing in no time.  There they are now,' he added, as David's big white BMW pulled up behind the Kombi in the street below.  'I wonder how David plans to get back into town tonight, if Tom's driving the BM.'   

'Same way he went,' suggested Mark, 'in a beat-up old chocolate-box with twenty-seven other passengers.'                       

'Why does Dawid want to go to these places with Judd?' Jannie asked.  'He must be more careful, he can come into trouble, bad trouble.'                                

'What balls,' said Mark.  A bottle of whisky three-quarters full stood on the table in front of him and he was expanding and relaxing under its assurance of ready replenishment for the glass he held in his hand.  'What d'you think could happen to him?  And who's here can stop friend David when he's set on doing something?  Not you, my boy, that's for sure.'

Bart said kindly to Jannie: 'David's far more able to look after himself than we'd be,  Jan, in a situation like that.  There's no need to worry.'

'Yes, he has this totally unassailable confidence,' Magda said thoughtfully.  She shifted uneasily in her chair as she realised her words might be construed as a comment as hostile as Mark's had been.  She added, pointedly addressing Simon in the chair next to her:  'I wonder where he gets it from.'

Mark grinned at her over his glass.  'You think only Whites have the right to be as confident as he is.'

'Not at all,' she said stonily, without looking at him.  

Lucas  addressed  Magda:  ‘From his money, of course.  There’re scads of money in his background somewhere, obviously.   That helps.’ 

'Doesn't it just.' Magda turned to him in her relief to be rid of Mark.  'Never having to worry about being in work, everything you need including a new BMW yours for the asking –  .  Where does the money come from as a matter of interest, does anyone know?  Do you, Tom?'

Tom, the stage manager, and Philip, his assistant, had drawn chairs up to join the circle on the verandah, and Tom had pushed his seat between Magda and Simon.

'Where does money ever come from?' he demanded.  'Land, that's  where.  Land, all over the world – farming land, mining land, land when towns turn into cities – you name it.'

'Land?'   Lucas looked sceptically at Tom.  'How could David's people have owned land anywhere?   Blacks just didn't, did they?'

'I don't know how he did it,' Tom replied, 'I only know that's where money like Dave's must come from.  Land.  He's stinking rich, you know, rich like Paul Getty, or Bill Gates – .'

'Then it could come from information software, something like that, could it?' Lucas said doubtfully, 'which hardly seems any more likely – '  

'No, you all talk rubbish,' Jannie put in loudly.  'Dawid is not rich, he is only like us.'

Lucas ignored this and addressed Simon, David's unquestioned second-in-command:  'Is he rich, Simon?'

'How should I know?' Simon answered.  'I think – I did hear – that his father started out in some sort of furniture business – upholstery, cabinet-making, something of that sort, I  don't really know.  But I do know all that kitsch you see in international hotels or airport VIP lounges, sofas covered in zebra skin, that sort of thing, that's his father, his father gets that sort of contract these days.  Apparently.'

'But good God that's not rich, that's just well-off.'  Lucas turned back to their stage manager.  'Tom?  Where’d you hear he's so – ?'

'All I know is Dave doesn't have to worry about money,' Tom said stubbornly, sticking to his point.  'Money's the last thing he thinks of.'

'If you ask me,' said Mark, generously topping up his glass once more, 'it's overseas money.  Someone's got his hands into some anti-racist, pro-Black till somewhere abroad –  and they're never peanuts, these pro-Black handouts.  They can run into millions.'

'Oh you talk rubbish, rubbish,' Jannie cried out in protest.  'Dawid would never handle dishonest, never.'

'I'm not saying he would,' Mark said mildly, 'but who do you think's paying your salary on this tour?'

'Arts Council of course,' said Jannie, almost shouting in his distress.

'And where do you think the Arts Council gets money?'

'Well, no, as a matter of fact it isn't the Arts Council, Jan,' Simon put in, 'or rather not exactly.  I don't know the details, I mean of David's agreement with them, or his contract, whatever you'd  call it, but I do know he did have to get money from his father, quite a lot of money.   It’s his father who’s backing the three shows, or underwriting the whole tour for the Council, something like that.  I'm not quite sure what.'

'There you are,' said Mark.  'I knew there'd been dirty work at the crossroads somewhere along the line.  You can always tell.'

'So that's why we're doing these peculiar plays,' said Lucas.  'I did rather wonder, I must admit, they're so very un-Arts Council, aren't they, even POTTING SHED.  So "controversial", and not really proper plays at all, "so-called" plays.'   The heavily sarcastic quote marks he intended were clearly audible.

'I know David wanted to do EWEH and APPLE,' said Simon. 'I don't know whose idea POTTING SHED was.'

'Daddy's perhaps,' said Magda, 'if he's paying the piper.'

'I don't think his father would have been all that interested in the arts side.'

'Obviously POTTING SHED was David's idea,' said Lucas.  'It's just his cuppa, bringing the dead back to life.'

' Why are you all being so mean about David and his father,' said Sally.  'So they're rich, so what?  At least they’re spending their money on other people, not just themselves.'

'Oh balls,' said Mark.  

'What about this tour then –  ?'  Tom began.

'Exactly,' Sally loudly supported him.                   

' – if Dave's father's backing it?' Tom continued.  'How many rich men do you know spend money on the theatre?'

'Hundreds,' said Mark.  'It flatters their vanity and makes them feel spiritual, shows they're not just money-grubbing self-servers of Mammon.  My poor sweet innocents,' he added, exasperated, 'can't you see what an ego-trip all this is for David?'

'That's not true, Mark, it simply isn't true, and you know it,' said Sally.  'What about what happened at that wedding?  You can't call that ego-tripping, it was one of the nicest, kindest, most considerate things I ever heard.'

'Oh me Gawd.'

'What wedding was this?' Magda asked.

'You weren't there,' Sally told her in an accusing aside.  'It was while we were playing one of the little dorps in the Boland, Tulbagh, I think it was.'

'No it wasn’t,' said Jannie, ‘it was by Worcester.’

'Well wherever.'  Sally was impatient of detail. 'The daughter of some local bigwig was getting married and we were all invited because the wedding was on a Sunday, the Sunday after we closed'

'Oh yes of course,' Magda recalled, 'those Jewish people who were so very – .'  She stopped, and then added: ‘More Jewish than the Jews.’

'Magda you’re so racist it’s horrible,’ Sally cried. ‘You didn't even come with us so how would you know?  You just called them a lot of country-bumpkins at the time –  '

'Did I really?' Magda murmured.  'How very rude of me.'

' –  and you went back to town on that Sunday instead, don’t you remember?  You got back so late on the Monday we nearly left without you.'

'So what happened at the wedding, for Chris' sake?' Mark demanded.  'Forget about Magda if she wasn't there, we were talking about David’s ego-tripping.  What did he do?'

'Oh what's the use?'  Sally was exasperated in her turn.  'You're so cynical there's no point in trying to explain.'

Lucas chipped in.  'David presented the bridegroom with several cases of KWV,'  he said.  'I happen to know because I managed to salvage a couple of bottles for private consumption later.' 

'Lucas you miserable thieving bastard,' said Mark, ' swigging the stuff all on your own.'  He turned back to Sally:  'And that,' he jeered, 'is what you'd call a little unremembered act of kindness, a wholly gratuitous act of purest altruism, a – '

'Yes,' said Sally loudly, 'because that's exactly what it was.'

'I'd call it typical of David's big-spender syndrome, myself,' said Mark, 'which God knows you can see for yourself any day of the week.'

'Oh go to hell,' said Sally.

'My dear Sal, when ordinary people like you and me can't buy a single bottle of the stuff without the right contacts, to scatter cases of it like leaves in autumn must give one a terrific kick, wouldn't you say?'

'But it wasn't like that at all,' Sally protested.  'It wasn't any big deal, he didn't try to make anything of it.  It was a very ordinary little wedding, but very sweet, I thought, and there wasn't an awful lot of drink, which was obviously upsetting the bridegroom – '

'Well, he's supposed to lay it on, isn't he?'

'The booze probably ran out,' Lucas suggested, 'because there are people in this company who drink like fish, especially when it's for free.'

'I wonder who they can be,' said Mark.

'Well anyway the end of the story is David disappeared and came back with this really rather marvellous wine,' said Sally.  'I mean it made the other stuff taste like plonk, even to me, and I don't know anything about wine really.  And this is the point, Mark, nobody knew where it had suddenly come from, nobody except the bridegroom, and he only knew it hadn't come from him.'

'Well as a matter of straight fact it came from a neighbouring wine farm,' said Simon, 'where David said his father knew the manager.  I know because I went with him to fetch it,' he explained.

'So you see,' Sally said triumphantly.

'No I don't,' said Mark.  'What exactly am I supposed to see?'

Sally gave up.  'There's none so blind as will not look,' she said.

'Do you remember,' Philip addressed Andrew, a particular friend of his among the younger actors in the company, 'the night David first had the idea for EWEH?  Same sort of thing,' he told the others.  'David organised cases and cases of Pepsi and chips out of nowhere, at about two in the morning.'

'That's right,' Andrew agreed.  He and Sally had begun to pair off during the first week of rehearsals; he welcomed this opportunity now to come to her aid.  'And that time too he said it was someone his father knew, he didn't take any credit himself.'

'There you are,' Sally said, 'tell this fat slob.'

'Are you referring to me by any chance?' asked Mark.

'It was a bit like tonight,' said Andrew, 'well, not really, I don't suppose, except there was a huge crowd of people that night too, about five thousand –  '

'Five thousand!' said Mark.  ‘Were you playing a soccer stadium by any chance?'

'No, a school hall, I think.  Or was it a church?  I don't remember.'

'It was a school,' Philip put in.

'A school hall seating five thousand?  Bullshit.'  Mark took a derisive swig of his Scotch.

'Well this wasn't in the hall itself, you see, it was outside, afterwards.  How many would you say there were tonight?' Andrew asked.

'About five hundred,' said Matt.

'Oh no then there were a lot more than five hundred that other time, certainly nearer thousands than hundreds.  The empties alone, the next day – .

'What happened that night,' Philip interrupted, 'was that the word spread, I don't know how, but people somehow got to hear there were free Pepsis and chips and they all got out of bed to come on in to get their share.  It wasn't only the audience we'd had, though that's where it began.'

'David laid on Pepsi and chips for thousands of people after a show one night?'  Sally was insisting on crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s so that Mark might be smitten both hip and thigh.

'Well no, not quite, there weren't all that many people,' Andrew said. ' We'd just done a sort of workshop thing that David sometimes likes doing –  you know, when he suggests an idea and then sits back to see what we make of it –  '

'Oh the tedium of those five-finger exercises straight out of drama school!'  Magda's whisper to Tom sitting next to her was clearly audible across the street.

' –  we'd had an evening of this, and by the time we'd finished it was long past midnight and everyone was feeling rather jaded and more than a bit peckish, but everything within miles around was shut, of course, at that hour.  Then one of the boys who’d been in the audience suddenly pipes up, saying he knows there’re some pepsis and chips in the tuckshop, but when he fetches them out  they turn out to be about two bottles of pepsi and five packets of chips. So people started nibbling at these, and then David rang somebody up, God knows who at that time of night, and he commandeered a beat-up old truck from somewhere too, and next thing we knew there was pepsi and chips for Africa being unloaded from the back of the truck onto the steps outside the hall.'

'What I remember,' Philip put in, 'was the next day, when the headmaster or someone from the school waited all afternoon for us to turn up so he could give David a piece of his mind.  Funny fat little guy, strutting up and down at the top of the steps like an enraged bantam cock while everybody tried desperately to keep a straight face.'

'He was furious at having had to clean up.'  Andrew took over once more.  'He'd had to use twelve –  there they were, count them –  twelve rubbish bags to  collect the mess he accused us of making, and it was typical of Whites to take it for granted Blacks would clean up after them – '

'That would have made David feel good,' Mark observed with satisfaction.

' –  and anyway where did it all come from, that's what he wanted to know, where had we stolen it from?  Furthermore there was the matter of five packets of chips and two bottles of pepsi which someone had taken and not paid for and he'd like that matter sorted out now please.  He actually stood there holding out his hand for the money.'

'And David paid him too,' Philip interpolated.

'We donated all the empties to him, cases and cases of them, enough to stock up their tuckshop for months, but this guy still insisted David pay for the original five miserable packets of chips and two pepsis.'

'But that's exactly what you'd expect of him,' Sally commented in a satisfied sort of way.  'David's the most fair-minded man I've ever met, even you have to admit that, Mark.'

'Oh for God's sake, Sally, grow up, will you?'  Mark had just re-charged his glass again and was irritably clinking the ice against its sides.  'You're not at your jolly-hockey-sticks girls' school any longer, you know; you're out in the big bad world now, right in the middle of it, where it's dog eat dog and power's the name of the game people play.  There's nothing more heady than power, once it's got hold of you, and it's worse than drugs or alcohol because powerholics need their fix just like the rest of us but theirs is more complicated and involves more people.  Even these fairy-godfather acts of David's – don't you see it makes him into some kind of god, strong to succour and to save, with mighty arm outstretched?.  And by God how he loves it.  You've only to watch him rehearse to see it all pumping into his bloodstream and going straight to his head.'  

'Oh come off it, Mark,' said Simon.  'David might have his faults, who doesn't, but power hang-ups he does not have.  He's the least autocratic director I know.'

'Only when he's already made quite sure he’s getting his own way first.'

'Have you never watched him before an opening, how nervy he is?'

'He even prays,' Jannie joined Simon to tell Mark accusingly, 'he does this – ' here Jannie crossed himself, the wrong way round ' – that let's a person think he is Roman Catholic, but it isn't.  And every time he also prays, but funny.  Lead us in temptation, he says.'

'Lead us not into temptation, Jannie, isn't it?' 

'No.  That is just what I am now telling you.  He says it different, not the right way.  Lead us in our temptation.'

'Perhaps,' Lucas suggested, 'that's what's meant by saying it backwards.'

'What I've heard him muttering to himself on first nights,' said Simon, 'though I've never seen him signing himself with the sign of the cross when he says them, are things like "It's all yours, Daddy-O" or "Over to you, George".'

'George?' Lucas queried.  'Who might George be, do you think?'

'George as in automatic pilot, I think.'

'I know he says bits out of the Lord's Prayer,' Magda said, 'thy will be done, thy kingdom come –  that is the Lord's Prayer, isn't it, not the credo or something –  but I've never thought he was serious.'

'Once,' said Simon, 'I heard him say "Father forgive them for they know not what they do".'

'Typical.'  Mark made of the word a small explosion, as if he had been holding it in for some time.  'That's absobloodylutely typical of him –  that's what he thinks of his actors.  Like I said, the man's a fucking paranoid.'

Sally stood up.  'I'm going to bed,' she announced.  'I won't sit here any longer listening to a boring old fart swearing at a better man than he will ever be.  You're just jealous, Mark, that's what it is.  Night all.'

Simon stood up as well, out of old-fashioned courtesy at first, but once on his feet he stretched and said he thought he'd turn in too.  Magda very shortly followed him, and, as she went, Lucas murmured to Bart 'Your bed or mine?' but if Bart heard he paid no attention.

The circle was broken.  One by one people drifted off to bed.  When Tom finished his night-cap in one final long swallow, Lucas followed him inside, hoping to get a detailed account of the evening's events before he went upstairs.  Of all the company, Tom was the least theatrical –  Lucas sometimes wondered what he was doing in theatre at all, he was so solid a citizen –  and his recounting would be free of any self-dramatising garniture.  Soon Mark was left alone with the remains of the Scotch.  Sadly he emptied the last drop onto the melting ice in his glass.  'Never enough,' he said aloud to himself.  'Too much is never enough, Christ, what shall we do what shall we ever do.'  Then he too drained his glass, including what remained of the ice, and went in search of a gents in order to empty his bladder, munching the ice as he went.


Naked under a sheet on his bed, Simon was skimming through the diaries of Peter Hall in paperback, waiting for the tap he was expecting on his door.  David and Simon were sharing hotel bedrooms on this tour, as were Magda and Sally; tonight, since Sally was already in her bed and David not yet back, there had scarcely been any need for the glances at once questioning and affirmative between Magda and Simon on the verandah downstairs.  Now, when the tap came and she walked in, wearing pyjamas and a wrap, he dropped his book onto the floor and flung back his sheet in welcome, grinning up at her in a pleased, inviting way. 

'Don't be so bloody crude,' said Magda, primly seating herself on the hotel dressing-stool and wrapping her full skirts about her pyjama'd legs.  'I know what the men in this company say about me but there's no need to rub it in.'

Simon did not immediately draw up his sheet, but he did fold his hands over his crotch, where he felt movement to be imminent.  'Why, what do they say?' he asked, still smiling his welcome.

Magda found a box of cigarettes on the dressing-table and helped herself to one before she replied.  'If you want a free fuck there's always Magda.'
'Magda!' he said, shocked.

'Don't pretend you've never heard it before.'

'As a matter of fact I haven't,' said Simon, 'though I will admit it sounds like the sort of thing someone we both know might say.  Was it Mark?'

Magda blew smoke through her nostrils.  'Yup.'

'I'll knock his bloody block off.'

'You do that,' said Magda, 'and I'll bite him in the leg.'

'But how do you know?' Simon asked.  'He surely didn't say that to your face, did he, surely not even Mark would –  '

'I overheard him talking to – oh God, I don't know, Jimmy with the beard, I think, I'm not sure.  Does it matter?  Quite early on in this little caper.  I very nearly left the tour because of it, I might add, it was the reason I went back to town that Sunday, instead of going to the famous wedding Sally was on about this evening.  I was in two minds about coming back, I can tell you, I – '

'But you did.  Come back, I mean.'

'Yes, well, it was David of course who talked me into that.'

'David?  Did you talk to David about –  ?'

'I had to give him a reason for wanting to leave, I couldn't just walk out on him, could I?'

'What did he say?'

Magda drew hard on her cigarette.  'He gave me some spiel about appearance and reality, the way things are.  If people chucking stones at you makes you feel nervous in your glass house, move out.'

'Which being interpreted means what exactly?'

Magda looked at him.  'I wish you'd cover yourself up, Simon,' she said.  'If you knew how little it turns me on.'

Simon pulled the bed sheet up with resignation.  Movement no longer felt imminent.  He lay watching her trying to blow smoke rings, not very successfully, and wondered why she had come to his room, if she were not going to join him in bed.

Then, stubbing out her cigarette with quick jabs, Magda abruptly asked: 'Is David queer?'

'How do you mean, queer?'

'I mean queer –  gay – homosexual, what d’you want to call it.'

Instead of the lust he had been looking forward to, Simon felt a stab of anger.  Flinging back his sheet once more, he went rooting about in an open bag on the floor for a pair of shorty pyjama pants, which he drew on with a quick snap of the elastic.

'For Chris' sake, Magda,' he said.  He strode across the available space to the minute en-suite bathroom, and returned a moment later to stand in the doorway with a glass of water in his hand.  'Do you realise something, I wonder?' he asked her.  'Every time, every single bloody time, that we are alone together you start pumping me about David, do you know that?  Usually, though, you wait until after – .  What's the matter with you, for Chris' sake, do you want a threesome, you me and David, is that it?  Just you and me isn't enough for you?  Because if so, you can count me out.  I'm not interested, okay?'

Magda turned on the dressing-stool to give the image of herself that the glass reflected a cold disinterested scrutiny.  'Spare me the higher moral ground please Simon.  I've already had one lecture tonight, thank you, from that sanctimonious little ingenue I've had to double up with and once a night is enough.  No, I’m not being fair.  Sally's quite sweet, I don't dislike her, but she does – .  She has good taste in men I have to admit.'


'Don't tell me you haven't noticed.'  Briefly, Magda searched his face.  'She and your brother are–’ 

'Andrew?' he asked, astonished.

'Oh do wake up, Simon.  Really, it's extraordinary how men  never see what's under their noses.'

'My little brother,' said Simon, 'my own little kid brother.  Well, well.'

Magda turned back to the looking-glass.  'The young get older too, you know.  Thank God.  I mean if Sally stayed seventeen I’d have to scratch her eyes out.'

'Sally's not seventeen,' said Simon, 'and Andrew certainly isn't, he's only a couple of years younger than me.  Tell you what.  Next place we stop, why don't you and I share and Sally and him?'

'No, Simon.'

'Why not?'

'Because I don't want David to – '

She abandoned her self-scrutiny and took another cigarette from the box on the dressing-table.  'All I'd like to know is who he's fucking.  He must be fucking someone, a man his age.  Is it Jannie, as a matter of fact?'


Simon found her liberated-woman would-be unshockability repelling and turned away to replace his glass on the bathroom shelf.  'Why don't you just ask him yourself,' he said shortly.

'Look, I'm just interested, Simon – is it such a crime to be interested in the people you're working with?'

Simon went back to his bed.  'No, but this particular interest's a bit prurient.'

'Is that why you don't answer any of my questions?'  Magda lifted her gaze to watch his reflection in the glass now.

'What makes you think David discusses his sex life with me?'

'I thought that's all men ever do discuss.'  She turned from the glass to look at him directly.  'I don't suppose it could be you, could it?  Does he crawl into your bed after lights out, or you into his, is that it?'

'Do me a favour will you Magda and piss off to bed now, okay?'

'Simon!'  Magda's whole body slumped on the dressing-stool.  'How dare you speak to me like that?  Like some – some vile old camp queen of an actor,' she said, but she spoke without heat.  'You're as insulting as Mark was.  You're horrible.'  She searched the pockets of her dressing gown and brought out a tissue which she used to press softly against her eyes, her nose, her mouth.
Simon lay watching for a few moments, and then he got out of bed once more to sit next to her on the stool and put an arm around her shoulders.  'What's wrong?' he asked gently.


Simon tightened his grip on her shoulder and gave her a little shake.  'Come on,' he said.

'Truly, there's nothing wrong, Simon, I'm just feeling – .  Perhaps Mark is right, perhaps I am just a tramp.  I do go to bed with men I like – '

'I know,' said Simon, and squeezed her shoulders again, 'who better?'

' –  and I do seem to like men more than most women, but it's different with David.  I am – oh I don’t know –  obsessed by him, I don't know what it is, I wish to God I'd never laid eyes on him, let alone auditioned for him, but it's not sexual, I don't think, in fact I know it's not.  That's just the point.  If he –  well, changed completely, and suddenly started to – oh you know what I mean, one can always tell when there's something doing, but if that happened to me with David, if I thought he'd –  . Oh God I think I'd die, I'd be so embarrassed.  Whereas with you, Simon, sometimes you've only got to look at me, even on stage, and I begin to feel all gamesome like.'

Simon nuzzled her neck briefly in acknowledgment.

'But with David – .  I don't know, I just don't know.  I only know that if I found out for certain sure he's involved with someone, someone we know, I'd –  . Oh I don't know what I'd do, but I've a feeling I'd –  .  I would eat my heart out, I suppose.  It's pure Othello, isn't it, it's too frightful.'

Simon nibbled her ear.

'Only it's not, of course, because it isn't jealousy, it's not as if I want him for myself, because I don't.  That's not it at all, it's just I keep thinking that if there is someone then why the hell is he so – ?  What's the matter with me, that he has never once – ?  I'm not repulsive, am I?'

'Uh-uh.'  He made this childish little sound of negation holding her whole head close.

'But if there really is no-one else then it's all right, there's no problem.'

'Like hell there isn't,'  Simon said, and stood up.

'But there can't not be someone, can there, Simon?  Not in the company, I quite see how he might very well not want that sort of hassle in the company, but some woman somewhere – .  I don't see how there can't be, can you? – an attractive man like David.  He so obviously doesn't play the field.'

She groped for another cigarette, and Simon disappeared into the bathroom once more, saying with resignation in his voice as he went:  'I suppose what all this is about is you're in love with the bugger.'

'But I'm not, I'm not,' Magda wailed.  'You haven't listened to a word I've been saying, Simon, I'm not in love with him, I don't even much fancy him, although if he so much as lifted  his little finger I know I'd die for him –  .  Oh God, what is the matter with me?'

She got up from the dressing-stool and looked about the room as if it were a prison from which there was no escape.  'Perhaps you're right,' she said bleakly, 'and perhaps I'd better just take myself off to bed too.  That child will surely be asleep by now.'

'No, wait,' Simon called from the bathroom, appearing a moment later in the doorway again.  'I think  there's something I must tell you.'  

'Oh?  What?  Something to do with David?'

'Yes.  A most peculiar experience I had.  Really very odd.  Last Christmas.'

She waited, but he said no more, standing looking thoughtful in the doorway.

'Well?  What was it?'

'I have never told anyone about this, Magda, not even David himself, and if you repeat so much as one syllable of it I will deny it with my last breath.'

'Simon!'  Wild horses could not now have dragged Magda from the  room, and she sank onto the bed next to his, her eyes fixed on his face, as he first sat on his own bed, seeming to cogitate how best to begin, and then swung his legs up, to lie with his hands under his head and his ankles neatly crossed.  Still he did not speak.

'Well?' she prompted once again.

'You know how David goes on these back-to-nature kicks from time to time.'

'No I don't,' said Magda.  'Does he?'

'Yes he does,' said Simon.  'Well, last year over Christmas he was looking for someone to go with him on a fairly tough mountain trail he'd heard about.'

'You mean climbing?  Or just hiking?'

'A bit of both.  Well, not rock-climbing, nothing dramatic like that, but practically everything else.  You ever done that sort of thing?'

'Don't be silly, Simon, of course not.'

'Yes, well, it was three and a half days' fairly strenuous walking about on the tops of mountains with everything you needed including your food in a backpack on your back –  '

'I cannot conceive of a worse way to spend Christmas.'

'I know.  It sounds like hell and I thought it would be too, but as a matter of fact it wasn't.  It was a better Christmas than I've had since I was a kid, when it's a different thing altogether of course.'

'Of course,' said Magda.  'You were telling me about David,' she reminded him, 'go on about David.' 

'But I am,' said Simon, removing his far-away gaze from the ceiling and looking at her in an aggrieved way instead.  'Have a little patience for goodness' sake.'

'Okay, okay,' said Magda impatiently.

'It was on the second night when all this happened,' he went on, 'and although it was mid-summer it was not all that warm up there, which was why I thought what David did doubly odd.  We'd all found places to put our sleeping-bags, and we were all a bit scattered, we weren't all sleeping together –  '

'I’m relieved to hear it,' said Magda.

'I mean we weren't all sleeping on one place.'

'Were there no women in this party?' Magda enquired.

'No,' said Simon.  'Just the four of us.  Tall Jimmy and Jannie were the other two.'

'Jannie,' Magda repeated flatly.

'There were supposed to have been more than just the four of us to begin with but people had cried off, what with its being Christmas, I suppose.  Anyway, on the second night, as I say, I woke up suddenly, God knows what it was that woke me at that hour, but there was David, standing on a sort of ridge up against the skyline from where I was lying, absolutely starkers.'

Though he stopped as if expecting comment, Magda said nothing.

'It was a very clear night,' Simon continued, 'there was a moon, and he looked as if he'd been turned to silver.  No.  Not silver, silver makes it sound romantic, and it wasn't in the least romantic.  There was nothing moonlight and roses about this, he looked as if his body had been cut out of steel.  Black steel, hard-edged and glinting, his whole body was hard, hard all over, and pulsing –  '

'If you're trying to tell me he had a hard-on,' Magda said tartly, 'why not just say so?  There's no need to come over all poetic.'

'No I don't mean that, that's not at all what I'm trying to tell you, although he did, as a matter of fact, a terrific – .  But that wasn't the point, it isn't the point – '

'In my experience,' said Magda coldly, 'it always is.'

' –  his whole body was taut, straining, he seemed to be on tip-toe, reaching up, yet he was perfectly relaxed and absolutely motionless, he didn't even seem to be breathing.  But at the same time there was a sort of rhythm coming from him, a pulsing kind of beat, very regular, which felt as if it was in my own body, like when you feel your heart going, or when you feel it pumping blood in other parts of your body, not in your chest, when you've got toothache, a bad toothache, and you can feel the blood pumping there, or you've cut your finger and it hurts, that kind of throbbing, or when your –  .'

'When your?'

'When your cock is very stiff.'

'I haven't got one,' Magda pointed out.  

Simon did not speak for a moment and then when he did it was in a very tight voice.  'You said you aren't in love with David,' he said, 'you said it isn't sexual.  I thought you'd understand what I'm trying to tell you.'

Magda got off David's bed and lay down on her side next to Simon on his.  He put an arm under her to hold her more comfortably, and covered with his free hand the hand she rested on his bare belly.

'And then?  What happened then?  How long did this go on for?'

'I have no idea.  I have not the least idea.  I only know it was –  .  I only know I felt – .  I only know I wanted to –  .  I crawled out of my sleeping-bag, and I took the rest of my clothes off too, I'd taken off only my boots and my trousers before I got into it, but then suddenly, when I looked up again, David wasn't there any longer.  I thought he'd gone a little way down below the ridge somewhere, but I couldn't find him, and when I eventually did find him he was back in his own sleeping-bag, dead to the world, sleeping like a new-born babe.'

'So?  Did you just leave it at that?  Didn't you wake him, or try to –  ' 

'No I didn't.  I just went back to my own sleeping bag.' 

After a moment, Magda asked:  'So was that all?  What about the next day, didn't you speak to him about it in the morning, ask him what – ?'

'No.  I told you, I've never spoken to him about it.  And now, sometimes, I think it never even happened, I just dreamed the whole thing.'

'But what?' Magda demanded.  'What did you dream?  You say you saw David get up in the stilly watches of the night, probably only to answer a call of nature, but because the moon was shining and you were half-asleep you thought something was happening.  Moonlight can be so cruelly deceptive, you know.'  She quoted Coward, mocking him.

'If you've never felt about David something of what I'm trying to tell you,' Simon said, 'you wouldn't have come to lie next to me.'

He turned onto his side to face her and looked into her eyes, not six inches away from his own.

'You're so damned sure of yourself, Simon, you make me sick. I hate you.'

'It's so trite to compare something utterly and totally self-consuming to orgasm,' he went on, disregarding, 'so I won't. Do you ever body-surf?'

'Don't be ridiculous, of course I don't.'

'Sometimes, not every time, but sometimes when you catch a wave it takes you completely, and for a few seconds or for all eternity you are the wave, there's nothing left of you, there's just the wave.  Have you ever known that?'

Magda said nothing.

'Or driving,' Simon went on, self-absorbed, 'driving a car very fast, as fast as it'll go, late at night, alone, no other traffic, and your legs go weak, that sensation you get in bed sometimes, when it begins, but then you forget yourself and your sensations, all you can feel is speed, your speed the car's speed there's no difference, it's all one, have you never known that?  Or gliding, hang-gliding.  There is a moment, not always, but it happens, a time or more a sort of no-time when you feel you've turned into air, you have no more substance than air, your harness, the whole cumbersome caboodle, all the elaborate gear, it's nothing but air, you are one with the air –  .'

He stopped, and after a moment Magda said: 'Perhaps if I tried to describe –  .  When a man first –  touches me, and I go all – .  Sometimes, that is, not every time.  Or when he first is – in me, and doesn't immediately start to – .  When all the rest of it, whatever happens, can somehow be a bit of a let-down – .  But what's all this got to do with David?' she cried out.  'Tell me that.'

'I don't know,' said Simon.  'Nothing perhaps.  But that night, when I lay watching him, the sight of him there up against the sky, it was – .  I can't tell you what it was.  If I tried to tell you it would come out sex, and you'd say aha, I was right after all, the pair of you, prancing about on the top of a mountain in the middle of the night with nothing on, what else can it be?  Because let me tell you when I got out of my sleeping-bag that night I could hardly walk the thing was so – .'

He moved to lie heavily upon her in a position for the act of love.

'It seems to be a bit that way right now,' she said complaisantly, content it should be so.'

'And sometimes I'm not sure myself, wasn't I just feeling a bit more than usually horny that night,' he said, accommodating his words to the movements he was making against her, their clothes between.  'But most of the time I'm sure I wasn't.  It wasn't sex that I wanted from David when I went looking for him on the side of that mountain.  And after tonight, after what you've told me what you feel about him too, I'm more than ever sure.'

He stopped moving against her and knelt astride her thighs to slip his hands up the sides of her body under its coverings.

'Because you've felt it too, haven't you.  You can't deny it, after what you said.  A feeling that has to be sexual because it has all the arousal and excitement that you associate with sex only it isn't.  It isn't.'

'Simon,' said Magda, arching her back the better to help him free her from her pyjamas and her dressing-gown at once, 'the door.  Lock the door.' 

'The hell with the door,' said Simon.  'If David wants to come in now, too bad.  He can come –  ' he kissed her mouth ' –  and go away again.  His problem,' he said against her cheek.

By this time they were both naked, and he drew a shuddering breath before coming down on her.  'My sweet love,' he said.

jerusalem the golden 


 - Right.  I learnt my lesson last time, okay? and learnt it good, so I won't even ask.  It's poetry again, right?  I had to go and look the last lot up, not that it helped much, but it was Yeats, wasn't it?  This lot even I know.   Tyger Tyger burning bright in the forests of the night I ask you.  And did those feet walk upon England’s mountains?  Well, if you want a straight answer to a stupid question I'll give you one: No they bloody didn't.  Bit of a daft old bugger, Blake, not all his pigs in the stye, I'd say, even allowing he was a poet; he wasn't all there, was he, couldn't have been, wanting to build Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land let alone anywhere else.  The Greeks had enough to say when the English took a few of their old marbles; what d’you think the Arabs and the Jews would have to say if we carted off their city and put it up stone by stone in some other part of the world?

Some weeks later, the company arrived in the first big city on their itinerary, to play at the Civic Theatre there, after which engagement there remained only a short season at the National Theatre in a neighbouring city (seat of the central government), and another short return season in the coastal city where they had started and where the Arts Council was based.  On their first morning in the metropolis, Tom, Philip, Sally, and Jannie were all waiting for one reason or another near the telephone in the greenroom coffee-bar of the Civic, where they were due to open in two days' time.  Tom and Philip were waiting for David, with whom they were due to discuss some necessary renovations to props and sets, Sally was expecting a telephone call about sharing a flat with Andrew for the duration of the run, and Jannie was just hanging about waiting for Dawid.  When he had approached Dawid earlier that morning with an earnest question about the second scene in the first act of APPLE, Dawid had said: 'What are you doing for lunch?  - we could talk about it then.'  So Jannie had gone straight out to book a table for two at one-thirty.  Now he wanted to make sure of finding some opportunity to remind Dawid of his luncheon engagement, casual as it had been; there was no trusting third-party intermediaries in matters as important to Jannie as this.    

The telephone rang, interrupting their desultory gossip about other shows and other seasons at the Civic, and Sally stood up to take the call she was expecting.

'Hullo, Andrew?' she said into the receiver.  'That was jolly quick, I thought you'd be ages still.  Have you seen Tim?'

'Hallo, hallo, wie praat?  Hallo?  Is jy daar, wie praat nou?'

The voice, a woman's, highly excited and rather loud, was speaking in Afrikaans, and Sally had very little knowledge of that language.  She held the receiver away from her ear, looking helpless.  'It isn't my call, it's someone talking Afrikaans,' she told the others.

'Say there's nobody here and put the phone down,' Tom advised.

Sally addressed herself to the telephone once more.  'There's no-one here,' she said.

'Goeie genade,' said the voice, 'wat gaat nou aan?  Kyk, meisie, ek moet dadelik met Dawid in verbinding tree, dit is uiters dringend, dis doodsake, ja nee, dis 'n polisiesaak, die`.'

'Wait,' said Sally, 'un moment s'il vous plait.' The only language she knew other than English was French, and not very much of that either.  Now she extended the receiver to Jannie.  'You try,' she said, 'something about David.'

Jannie  took the telephone from her, and Sally appealed to the others: 'Why put a call for David through here, I wonder.  At least I think it's David she wants, she spoke so fast – '

'Oh good,' said Philip. 'That must mean they're finished up in the office and he's on his way down here.  At last.  Do you realise,' he added to Tom,  ' we have now been waiting for forty-five minutes?'  He extended the watch on his wrist in Tom's direction.  'Look, it's a quarter to one.'

Tom was unperturbed.  'When you have to deal with the management in places like this,' he said, 'local government places, not proper theatres, things can get pretty snarled up pretty damn quick.'

'Oh Lord,' said Sally, 'don't tell me David's in bad with  management again.  What's he done now?'

'Nothing,' said Tom, 'or nothing that I know of.  Opening on Thursday's supposed to be a charity premie`re, that's all.  That's what they're discussing, as far as I know.'

'Oh Lord,' Sally said again.  'I didn't know that.  Which of the plays?  I do hope not EWEH?'

Before Tom could reply, Jannie finished his telephone conversation and hung up, looking stricken.  Bowing his head, he put his clasped fists first to his forehead, and then to his mouth, biting his knuckles.

'Trouble,' he moaned, 'there's again trouble.  I must straightaway go look for Dawid, it was the police there by Ria and them on the farm.  Oh why don't Dawid listen to me,' he wailed, 'I told him, I told him long ago already, he must now stop his nonsense.'

Philip sighed audibly, Tom put on a humouring expression, and Sally said: 'Now, Jannie, just cool it please, okay? and tell us: who was that woman and what did she want?'

'Ria,' Jannie said wildly, 'that was Ria on the phone.  She says –  '

'Who's Ria?' asked Tom.

'Ria's one of the women on that farm where David insisted we all spend Sunday night,' Sally explained.  'She's the –  '

'Well not quite all,' Philip interrupted.  'Some of us don't get to have even a couple of hours off occasionally, let alone whole Sundays.'

'Would you like to have gone too?' Tom asked.  'You should have said.'

'You can't make a detour like that – where was it exactly?'  He appealed to Sally but continued without waiting for her reply: 'Somewhere near where he was born, David said.  You can't take a bloody great pantechnicon on a detour like that, hundreds of miles.'

'I could have brought the van up on my own,' said Tom.  'You could have gone with the others in one of the Kombis, I wouldn't have minded.'

'Oh good God no, Tom,' said Philip, 'I don't mean I wanted to duck out of anything, I was simply making the point that not all of us had a day in the country last Sunday, that's all.'

Jannie was still biting his knuckles next to the telephone.  He was trying to decide whether to go on waiting for Dawid or to go in search of him, and now he made up his mind and started to run, calling out over his shoulder as he went that if anyone saw Dawid before he did they should give him a message to telephone Ria urgently, it was very important.

‘Jannie, wait,' Sally called after him.  'What did Ria want, why did she – ?'  

'I can't wait now,' Jannie called back, 'I must first find Dawid.'  He'd show them.  They talked all rubbish when he had such important messages, messages for Dawid and all?  He'd show them.

'I wonder what that was all about,' Sally said as he disappeared.

'Well whatever it was,' said Philip, 'you can be sure Jannie's ballsed it up.  What would the police want with David, and go looking for him on a farm in the depths of the country when all the world knows we're now here.  Well, one hopes so, at any rate, who's doing publicity, Tom, do you know? – us or them?' 

'What went on on that farm last weekend?' Tom asked Sally. 'Must have been some party, if the police had to go and investigate.'  He winked at Philip, who ignored him, looking po-faced.

'Don't be ridiculous, Tom,' said Sally, 'nothing at all went on.  Those two women wouldn't have allowed it,  they're far too respectable.'

'This farm's run by women?'

'Yes, Ria and Martie.  There is a brother, but he doesn't seem to count for much, we hardly saw him while we were there.  It's the two sisters who do all the work, especially Martie.'

'What's the connection, by the way,' Philip asked, 'I mean between David and these people?  Why did he make such a point of going to see them?'   

'I don't know,' said Sally.  'I didn't like to ask, it seemed so rude – sort of, you know, how does someone like you get to know landowners in the Free State, I thought they were just rich farmers, you see, and then when we got there it was even more awkward – '

'You mean they weren't well-to-do?' Philip asked.

'Not at all' said Sally, 'rather the opposite, in fact, they seemed to be quite poor.  There weren't enough beds, for a start, it was fairly embarrassing actually.  They'd put bedding on the floor in some kind of barn, or storeroom, a sort of rondavel place, for all the men.  Except David, of course, he was given the full treatment, like visiting royalty or something, they gave him the brother's room and the poor devil had to sleep outside somewhere.  And meals were a bit difficult too, there wasn't enough of anything – oh I don't mean food, there was plenty of that, not always altogether to one's taste perhaps, sort of pain du pais, you might say,' –  here Sally looked  pleased with herself, showing off her French –  'lots of peasant dishes, but all very wholesome and tasty, home-made bread, home-made butter, masses of lovely preserves, delicious thick cream straight from a cow –  '

Tom looked amused.  'Cream doesn't come straight from a cow.'

'Tom, I saw one of the maids doing it with my own eyes.  She had a machine with two funnels and a handle, and she poured milk from a pail in at the top while she turned the handle, and after a while cream came out of one funnel and milk out of the other.  If that isn't straight from a cow then I'd like to know what is.  No, the food was okay, a bit too much, if anything.  At lunch on  Monday – yesterday, before we left – I was given a plate heaped with more carbohydrate that I normally have in a week, and David made me eat practically all of it, he said Martie would be offended if I left any, and I must say I have never in my life before eaten pumpkin that tasted the way Martie's did.   But there were never enough plates, or knives and forks, there were just too many of us, there weren't enough chairs, they brought in a bench from the sheds so we could all sit round the table. It was nice of David to want to give us a weekend in the country but I did feel it was a bit of an imposition on those two women.'

'I wouldn't worry too much about that side of things, if I were you,' said Tom.  'It would have been for their sakes that he went down to visit them – if they're the people I think they must be, that is.  He's been there before, you see.  At least once that I know of, but there could have been other times too.'

'You knew David before this tour then,' Philip asked.

'Oh yes,' said Tom, 'Dave and me, we're old buddies, done a lot of shows together, him and me.   Ever since he gave me a bit of a leg up once, when I was down and out, flat broke, I've been working for him.  He knows where to find me when he wants me.'

'So you've been to that farm too,' said Sally,' you know those two women?'

'No I can't say that,' Tom replied, 'but I heard this story about Dave and the two sisters' brother when I worked with Dave before.  He saved his life once.'

'Who saved whose life?  David  that boy's? –  Martie and Ria's brother?'

'Yes.  He went missing once, while he was crawling about underground in the subterranean tunnels and caverns the farm's full of.  Weren't you shown any of their famous caves when you were there?'

'No,' said Sally.

'Well they're well-known,' said Tom.   'Speleologists go there specially – it was on one of their larks the boy went missing.  And he was missing for days, been given up for dead, just about, when Dave arrives and starts organising search parties.  And he found him.  Must have been quite a drama –  there's the two women, waiting on the hillside, given up all hope, when Dave comes marching out  the mouth of one of the caves and says "He's alive, they're bringing him out" and then the boy himself staggers out and falls down at his sisters' feet.'           

'Goodness,' said Sally.

'You have to hand it to David,' said Philip.  'He's a good showman, he knows how to get an effect.'

'Hi,' said Simon, joining them at that moment.  'David says mea culpa mea culpa and could you meet him here after lunch instead.'

'God damn David to hell,' said Philip.  'He buggers up my entire bloody morning and then calmly starts in on my afternoon as well.  He can go take a running fuck at himself, I'm not going to bloody wait for him again today, he can bloody wait for me.'

'Temper, temper,' said Tom mildly, as Philip stormed off in a rage.  'What's gummed up the works? –  this famous phone call to the farm or what?'

'Good God how news travels to be sure,' said Simon.  'How did you know David rang the farm?  He was still talking to one of those women when I left him not two minutes ago.'

'We didn't know,' said Tom, grinning, 'you just told us.'

'Jannie took a call from Ria here,' Sally explained, 'and went off to find David.  Something to do with the police,' she added.

'What do they want?' asked Simon.

'We don't know,' Sally answered.  "Jannie didn't stop to tell us.  But from the way he carried on you'd have said there's a warrant out for his arrest or something.'

'Well we all know what Jannie's like,' said Simon.  'I'm sure it isn't anything serious.'

'So what's holding Dave up then?' Tom asked.  ‘I can't go ordering materials if I don't know what he want us to do, he knows that, and there's only tomorrow left before we open.'

'David's gone a bit over the top about this premie`re on Thursday,' Simon confided.   'I know he doesn't much care for them at the best of times, he's never made any secret of that, but this morning – .  Not that I blame him, mind you.  They weren't really hitting it off, him and Janis, even before this woman showed up, the organiser or convenor, whatever she wants to call herself, but after she pitched in – .  'The Theatre,' Simon suddenly started intoning, mock-David-pompous, 'is not primarily a money-making concern.   Those who think it is will lose their shirts.  The Theatre exists to serve God, not Mammon.'  He reverted to a more normal tone.  'And so on and so forth.'

'God help him,' Tom commented.  'If your theatre doesn't pay, your theatre goes dark, it's as simple as that.  Ask anybody you like.'

'Exactly,' said Simon.  'Look at Coward – look at Shakespeare.  If they didn't think theatre is a money-making concern, I'm a monkey’s arse.  They both made a fortune out of theatre and good luck to them, I wish I could.'

'Oh Simon,' Sally said reproachfully, 'how can you talk about Shakespeare in the same breath as Noel Coward?'

'Why not?' asked Simon.  "They were both of them compleat men of the theatre, they devoted their lives to the theatre.'

'But Shakespeare was a genius,' Sally objected.

'And Coward wasn't?'

'Oh Simon,' Sally said again, her reproach now much stronger.

'Look, they each wrote plays that were totally outside the other's range but that doesn't mean one was a genius and the other not.  It just means their genius was different.'

'You haven't finished telling us about Dave,' Tom interjected, pouring oil on troubled waters. 'What did they decide about Thursday?  If anything.'

'Oh my God yes, this woman,' said Simon.  'The way she sashayed in, only about half-an-hour late, power-dressed in a rig-out that must have set her back a couple of thousand at least, with shoulders out to here and a skirt up to here, dangling enough solid gold to pay the national debt and pumping out great gooey gobbets of what she no doubt thought was charm.  It was quite funny really, at least to begin with, when David just sat there looking faintly alarmed, but then when he got cross and lost his temper –  '

'David lost his temper?  I don't believe you.'

'He completely lost his temper,' Simon asserted.  'He was livid with fury, I've never seen him look like that before, ever.  I thought I'd have to come between them, I seriously thought he was going to get up and hit the woman –  '

'Dave?' Tom queried, 'this is Dave you're talking about?'

'If  he'd had a whip handy he'd have used it, I promise you.'

'But why?' Sally asked, wide-eyed.  'Why didn't he just let them get on with their arrangements, what's it got to do with us what management wants to do front of house?'

'Ah but that's just it, you see.  The arrangements had everything to do with us,' said Simon.  'This woman –  her name's Delicia Mpumzile ffrench-Fotheringham, by the way –  '

'I don't believe you,' said Sally again.

' –  Janis says she specially asked  her to set up this meeting with David so she could explain what she wants.  First of all there was going to be a champagne buffet in the foyer before the show and she would get a message to David to let him know what time to take the curtain up –  '

'What?' said Tom.

'Then there was to be an American auction either at the interval or after the show, in which the cast was going to take part –  '

'What?' said Sally.

' –  we could all help carry stuff on stage, she thought, the whole thing could be worked up into quite a little ballet, rather cute, and a choreographer friend of hers from SABC-TV had promised to help with that –  '

Sally opened her mouth to say something and then changed her mind.

' –  and David himself, if he would, and his leading lady, whoever she was, could help the auctioneer –  guess who, milady herself of course, who else? –  they could work up some amusing bits of business while the auction was going on perhaps.  She'd got her husband to make a list of a few in-jokes she thought the audience would recognise at this moment in time, and this she handed to David, if he and the actress concerned could just work them up a bit.  That's when I thought David was going to hit her.'

'I simply can't believe what I'm hearing,' Sally said wonderingly.

'So help me.' Simon licked a finger and held it up aloft.  'She was very big on other people working things up a bit.'

Tom laughed.  'Good for old Delicia what’s-her-name,' he said.  'It's just what Dave needs, somebody to stand up to him sometimes, specially a woman.  Do him the world of good, I wish I'd been there to see it.'

'There was nothing to see,' said Simon, 'there weren't any fireworks.  When I say David lost his temper I don't mean he lost his cool.  He just said that since the curtain would go up as usual at eight-thirty on Thursday and no late-comers would be admitted, she would be well advised to have her champagne buffet after the show, not before – ' 

'There I agree with him,' said Tom.

'He also said nothing would be auctioned from the stage at any time during the course of our run – '

'Quite right,' said Sally.

' –  though what she did at her supper party in the foyer after the show was of course entirely up to her.  If she wished to invite the cast to take part she should go ahead and approach us individually by all means, but he himself was unfortunately otherwise engaged that evening.  Alternatively, he said, if she'd like to take over the stage as well as the foyer on Thursday, we would be happy to bow out and open on Friday instead.'

'He wouldn't dare, would he?' said Tom, still rather tickled.

'Yes,  people must surely already have bought tickets for Thursday,' Sally put in.

'I  think he might at that,' said Simon, 'if push came to shove, which it still could.  Under all her slap the lady's face had gone a ripe shade of mulberry, and she was frothing at the mouth before he finished.  Even poor Janis was beginning to look a bit fazed.  But then Jannie came bursting in, and started his cadenza –  '

'Don't tell us,' said Sally, 'he started it down here actually.'

' –  and after that David just ignored her.  He'd had his say and that was that.  Well, you know what he’s like.  He never thinks there’s two sides to every question, he thinks what he thinks is so obviously the right thing to think that there aren’t any two ways about it  So he just got up and went over to the phone and calmly started dialling long distance without so much as a by-your-leave, and Madam started pulling everything she's got on poor Janis.  I don't know what’s been decided yet because David said come down to tell you he'd see you this afternoon and don’t wait.'

'Oh he'll carry the day, never fear,' Tom predicted.   

'He always does,' Sally agreed.

'I suppose he will, in the end,' said Simon, 'and we'll open on Thursday whether there's an audience or not.  Still, I could wish he hadn't put her back up quite as much as he did.  She looks as if she could kick up a lot of dust, if she wanted to, and after this morning's little session she'll want to, make no mistake.  Oh well.  What's done is done.'

The public pay-phone in the greenroom started ringing once more, and this time it proved to be the call Sally was expecting.  The two men left her to it and walked off together.

The Civic engagement was a triumph from beginning to end, and every member of the company moved in a haze of publicity throughout the run.  Thanks to the organisers' painstaking care in the distribution of free tickets for the charity premie`re, all the daily newspapers carried not only – on  the whole – commendatory reviews of the play (which David had decided should be EWEH STEVE), but also glowing accounts of the party afterwards where staggering amounts of money were raised for charity.  Practically every media person in the country was there, hardly to be distinguished from people who had paid through the nose for their tickets, and later – all of them looking just a little squiffy – they all appeared in numbers of photographs taken for advertising monthlies like LIVING STYLE.  On the Saturday, the same newspapers published reviews of the second play in the Civic Theatre Season of Three Plays, and, on the Sunday, national newspapers reviewed all three plays in terms occasionally bordering on hysteria.  I ATTEND THREE OPENINGS IN A ROW, one critic trumpeted in a banner headline, with a sub-head reading: ALL THREE ENCHANT.  Another read HAT TRICK AT CIVIC, the copy below beginning

A new star has arisen in our already impressive firmament of impresarios in this country.  For a long time, names like Loring, Honeyman, or Toerien have been synonymous with smash hit, but now –

and ending

Let our sometime whizz-kids look to their laurels –

During the week following, success spread outwards like ripples in a pond.  A feature called Barbie's Barbs inside one of the Sundays (its stories were divided by the unkind into blurbs, bleepers, and booboos) made much of an interview David gave Barbie herself – the piece was headed Luncheon with a Hunk – and in it David's looks, the up-market restaurant where they ate, notabilities at other tables, the food, and wisecracks about the plays all enjoyed more or less equal attention.  One of the same newspaper's drama critics, whose spherical appearance if little else recalled the more famous Alexander Woolcott, considered several of the performances no less than superb and gave the three productions four-star accolades (he never gave five stars, ever).  Evita Bezuidenhout did a not-entirely-successful male impersonation of David in THE POTTING SHED, sending him up rotten, and country-and-western stars Des and Dawn not only wrote a little ditty about the plays but recorded it too.  Nearly every member of the company appeared on radio or television at least once and some of them – Simon, Magda, Judd –  several times.  Judd showed off like mad on SABC 1 and made two television advertisements, in one of which he drank beer with Bafana-Bafana and in the other put on a box before going in to bat at Lord's, no less.

David himself made almost daily appearances.  He was twice a guest on Talk Radio, first of a man who wanted to know where he had been educated he spoke such accentless English (this man's own accent was difficult to place except very vaguely somewhere between New York and Jerusalem), and then of a woman who made suggestive little enquiries into the exact nature of his relationship with Magda.  Rumour had it among the cognoscenti, she said, with one of the little shrieks she had made famous, that in private life they were man and wife, or as good as –  were they in fact married?  Someone chatted to him most amiably on Good Morning South Africa, a girl called Hlengwe reverently enquired of him on a Sunday night religious-discussion programme whether he really believed in the resurrection of the dead, as EWEH STEVE and THE POTTING SHED suggested he might; another girl called Leleti asked him hardly less reverently to introduce short excerpts from EWEH STEVE and AFTER THE APPLE for a programme called Top of the Bill, her own introduction to his introductions contriving to be at once awe-stricken and fulsome.  Another of David’s interviews at this time was with a journalist who not only edited a paper called Network ('the On-Line Print-Out Up Front') but also had a regular spot on television and a blog site of the world wide web; this interview was spread across all three outlets.  Entitled Dramatic Essences, or, Things As They Are, the article that appeared in Network was accompanied by a photograph of David looking tortured, and its introductory preamble read in part as follows:

There are dramatists and to spare, God knows, who take upon themselves the mantle of Elijah and demand of their critics nothing less than a sleep of reason.  Only in their own work, do these inspired prophets insist, may there be found salvation, and that only by born-again seekers after the One True Faith.  From he-ancients and she-ancients instinct with the life force of their Shavian intellects to a Mother Courage imposing her more Brechtian dialectic; from the kitchen-sink-with-everything school of drama to a pre-occupation with the absurd at the heart of things: all would have us acquiesce in a singular and unique vision of the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  It is less often that one comes across a director of other men's plays who shares this essentially creative zealotry.

The article itself was a transcription of the televised interview, and part of it is reproduced below. DB refers to the interviewer; DA to David.

DB  You say your basic approach is never to interfere, to allow the reality of the play to emerge, or erupt – at  most you act as midwife, so to speak – and I can see how this would work with a play like EWEH STEVE, if you can call something so loosely structured a play at all.  There I can see how you would have to leave it to the cast  But how about the other plays in your trilogy – if it is a trilogy you are presenting; is it? – even the second, APPLE, as I believe it's known in the trade.  Surely there you must interfere, as director you must present  you own view of the playwright's intention in the play – which, I agree, could be totally different from some other director's, or even the playwright's himself.

DA  It’s true AFTER THE APPLE has more structure, yes, it is what used to be known as a well-made play.  The lines are there for the players to learn and for the director to see they come across with good effect.  But I think –  .  Perhaps we should go back to the bridge analogy I used earlier; I don't think we’ve worked through all its implications.  Because, you see, what a particular play presents to a particular audience has very little to do with the playwright’s intention – sometimes I think nothing at all.  At that particular performance any play might have had the same effect as the particular play one is in fact presenting.

DB  I'm sorry, I'm not with you.  Perhaps we had  better go back to your bridge.  But could I first just make my point about the Graham Greene play in your repertoire as well; it's a better example of what I mean.  Surely what you have in that play, the Greene play, is drama at its most didactic, its most polemical? –  it’s surely a play with a thesis, if ever there was one.  Here you have Father Graham, priest, excommunicate though he may well have considered himself to be –  and with good and sufficient reason, I'm tempted to add – here we have Graham Greene giving us the bottom line on miracles, or on the doctrine of miracles, it may very well be – 

DA May I ask you questions too?

DB  But of course my dear fellow.

DA  What is the bottom line on miracles?

DB  You mean according to our St Graham?  Well I'd say he suggests in his play that they're simply a question of sufficient faith, that there's no need to question one of the basic tenets of Christianity – 

DA  Which one would that be?'

DB  Well, the resurrection of Christ, I suppose.  There's no need to question that, if your common-or-garden Greene-type priest can do it at will too, provided his faith is sufficient, so up yours, all ye sceptics of insufficient faith, ye are all just stupid.

DA  (laughed at this point.)  I have rehearsed or played that play several times a week for some months now, and never once has that interpretation of the plot even remotely suggested itself.

DB  Then what interpretation would you in fact put on Mr Greene's plot?

DA  None.  That is the point.  None whatever.  I agree that that prayer in the potting shed can very easily be seen as no more than a piece of crude bargaining.  But I chose the play for that very reason, because it is as a play so very intractable to modern audiences.  Let's go back to my bridge, which is a bridge but also a road for four lanes of motor traffic.  It spans a  nothingness, an empty space between two sides of a deep, wide gorge, and it is supported, apparently, by nothing more than a couple of slender arches resting on nothing more solid than a thin flexible steel plate designed to move as required.  If you have any imagination at all, as you hurtle across that chasm in your car at a hundred and eighty miles an hour, cold terror will clutch at your vitals and you will want to stop the car and get off  But the point about this bridge, which you might want to call a miracle of modern engineering perhaps, the point about it is that it presents a concrete image of abstract mathematical realities which if they’re not true, if you’ve made mistakes with the maths, your bridge will simply fall down.

DB  And we'll all say 'Oh shit'?

DA  We'll  say what?

DB  You've never seen that poster of a locomotive plunging down a hill from a bridge that has collapsed under it?  The caption reads: Oh shit. 

DA  Oh.  I see.  It's often the only word used these days, isn't it, for everything.  Shit.

DB  Well, there's 'Oh fuck' too, of course.

      (It should be noted in passing that this incidental little exchange was edited out of the interview as televised.)

DB  So OK your bridge falls down.  What’s that got to do with putting on plays?

DA  In very much the same way as my bridge, a play  presents an image of reality which if it’s not true, if you’ve made mistakes with it, the centre will not hold and the whole thing collapses.

DB  But who’s going to decide that?  You? – the director?

DA  No, audiences have to.

DB  But will the average audience know enough to be able to – ?

DA Look, you mustn’t try to take an analogy too far, you know, all analogies fail after a certain point.  The bridge and its mathematics are one thing; a play is something else again.  In the theatre, as in life of course, things are never quite as cut and dried  as they have to be when you’re building a bridge.  What happens at the play, the reality that is revealed in the theatre, is not something you can watch as you watch traffic crossing a bridge, it’s far more complex than that.  All you’ll get – if you’re lucky, that is, often you’ll get nothing except badly lit sound and fury – all you’ll get are a few glimpses here and there.

DB Glimpses?  Of what?

DA Of whatever is there to be seen.  What you see when you watch a play depends on you, of course – the theatre-goer. You have to get the point of what is happening, you can't just leave  it to the director or the playwright.  You must make sense of it.  

DB  And if you can’t?

DA  There’s no way you can’t, that’s the point.  You will always be vouchsafed at least a glimpse.

DB  Vouchsafed.  Who by, one wonders, God Almighty no doubt.  So, to sum up, you’d see your job as director simply to let it all hang out, let it all happen.  You’re simply what used to be called a facilitator

DA  Well, yes, basically, I suppose you might say that.  You certainly don’t try to impose your own meanings or interpretations, you do your best to make it possible for people to see when they look.  Because, sometimes, when the play is right, and the actors are right, and the theatre is right, and it's the right audience at the right time, then sometimes – not very often, in my experience so far no more than about three times – there is revealed, for one brief  moment – 

(The interviewee paused at this point for so long that he had to be prompted to continue.)

DB  There is revealed?

DA  It's different every time, you see.  If it could be put into words, or measured mathematically, it wouldn't be necessary to go to all the great trouble and expense of mounting plays, would it?

DB  So when I go to the theatre, or to the cinema for that matter, to see what my favourite director – as it might be you yourself, for example – what you have made of one of the great classics, Antigone or even Lysistrata perhaps, or if I go to see what Olivier made of Lear or Othello, or even if I  go just to see a show, a leg show in a Las Vegas club, you'd say I'm going to the theatre for all the wrong reasons?

DA  Oh good God no.  A thousand times no.  Everybody should go to the theatre all the time, for those as well as a hundred other good reasons –

There were a couple of columns more about the plays, the interviewer's questions moving on to focus more sympathetically on EWEH STEVE and AFTER THE APPLE, and the article in Network ended with this final exchange:

DA  Well, as I've been trying to say all along, we tell it like it is.

DB  Aha!  But is that ever possible?  Nobody can tell it like it is, as a journalist I learnt that lesson very early on, while working for a paper whose proud boast it was at the time.  A journalist, even the very best, can only tell it like he sees it.

DA  No.  You are wrong.  Or it may be so in journalism, I don't know, but in the theatre it is possible, it sometimes happens – in spite of ourselves, it sometimes happens that we tell it like it is.  Not as we see it, but as it is, it is the thing itself that is there – momentarily perhaps, but there it is.

Despite this strong statement, which accounted for his introductory preamble, DB later privately expressed his opinion  of David as a bit of a twister not easy to pin down, a wily bird and a slippery customer always trying to side-step the issue and sidle off the point.

As all this free publicity continued to flood the media, the three plays made it even to the sermons of fashionable clerics in their churches, while PR people everywhere continued to scratch like maddened hens as they sought ever more frantically means to cash in further on the event of this heaven-sent happening.  Organisations like Chambers of Commerce invited David to address their monthly luncheons at the Country Club, others like Lions International asked him to open fe^tes, and at least one political party offered him a seat on its platform, with the possibility later of an appointment to the board of Anglo-American, after the nine-day wonder of his present success had passed.  This last he refused.  Through it all, he continued to maintain that the play's the thing, and his deep-voiced gravitas, and rather hesitant delivery, was enormously effective against the frenetic pizzazz of all those climbing onto his bandwagon in their anxiety to keep up with le dernier cri and, if possible, to anticipate it. 

 To the rest of the company, however, he seemed at this time to withdraw into himself, and to seek his privacy more than he used to, distrusting the wild acclaim his productions were enjoying – which, everyone in the company agreed, though all very setting-up and exciting, was also not a little bewildering.  It  was true that the plays were good, but they were not that good – not all that much better than other productions at other theatres (everyone could recall at least one, usually one in which he or she had played the lead) –  and it was also true that there were some lovely performances spread among the three productions, David's in POTTING SHED being perhaps the most memorable, but again all of them could remember performances as good, if not better, in other plays at other times.  How, then, to explain why they now had not one but three smash hits on their boards?  But there you are, they concluded, that's theatre for you.  There is never any knowing which way the great paying public will jump, bless its little cotton socks, and all one can do when for once it leaps in one's own general direction is to open up the caviar and say 'Thank God'.

They did outstandingly good business of course, and Matt hardly touched ground all the time they were at the Civic.  By the Wednesday of the week following their opening, all evening performances of all three plays were sold out, and two days later there were no seats left at all; booking began to move over to the State Theatre.  Originally, the Civic season was to have ended with the second house on the Saturday before Easter, with the State Theatre opening on the Thursday following, the Thursday of Holy Week, once known as Maundy Thursday.  When the Civic season sold out in its first week, however, the possibility was mooted of extending the run, only to be abandoned when Janis pointed out that her theatre was booked solid for several months ahead.  By special arrangement, Sunday-night performances of an adapted version of EWEH STEVE had been put on Upstairs at The Market, a small, experimental theatre used mainly for try-outs, and, although there had been little advance publicity, large numbers of people were turned away every Sunday.  It was thus eventually arranged that THE POTTING SHED would open at the State as planned on the Thursday, but that another four performances of EWEH STEVE would be given Upstairs at The Market on the Monday to the Thursday of that week.

After the Civic season, the first night at the State Theatre came as something of an anticlimax.  Not every seat had been sold and, after applause verging on the dionysian night after night in the Civic, the audience at the State seemed apathetic. Taking her bow with the others, Magda muttered something very rude indeed about what the customers must be doing with their hands, when they were not sitting on them, and was rewarded with a sidelong smile from David.

Later, in the dressing-room she and Sally were sharing – Sally played Anne in THE POTTING SHED, and Magda Sara – she asked:   'Is David taking his car through to this party at The Market tonight, do you know?'

'He must be, surely,' said Sally, 'it's his party after all.  Why, are you looking for a lift?'

'How are you getting there?'

'I'm not going,' Sally said decisively.  'I'm sick to death of all these parties, they never stop.'

'But David's giving this one himself, isn't he?  Isn't it royal command?'

'Well then he should have said.  It's no big deal, you know, just Upstairs at The Market, sort of a thank-you to Barney is all.  I think.'

'I thought more end-of-the-fantastic-Civic run.'

'Oh that too, I suppose, but even so I'm still not going,' said Sally.  'I've had enough fantastic apres-show parties, thank you, and it's a long drive, in the middle of the night. But I'm sure there'll be transport laid on, one of the Kombis, why don't you ask Philip?' 

'Do you know, I don't think I shall,' said Magda.  'It's such a trek, at this hour, I quite agree, and then driving all the way back, with the men half-cut and trying it on all over again in the Kombi.  I think I shall just go to bed instead, I'm feeling exhausted tonight, for some reason.'

'Well in that case, if there is a Kombi going, they can jolly well drop us both off first,' Sally said.  'Where are you staying?'

'At the house David organised,' Magda said, a little surprised.  'Aren't you?  I thought we all were.'

'No I'm not,' said Sally, as decisively as before.  'I'm sorry but all this pigging it together in a sort of commune scene, well, it's just not me, I'd really rather not, thanks.  And it's always the women who end up doing all the work, haven't you noticed?'

'That's true,' said Magda.  'One will be obliged to take a firm line.'

'Besides, think what it'll be like sharing a bathroom with Mark.  No thank you.'

'I wouldn't dream of it,' said Magda, 'and if there were any question of it I shall lock the door and keep the key on my person.  He can use the garden.'

'Well you might find yourself having to do just that in this house David's put you all into.'

'My dear Sally, I'm sure you're wrong.  It isn't a commune sort of set-up at all, you know.  I know for a fact there are at least two bathrooms, and very probably more, the house is really rather grand, almost a mansion actually, originally built by Herbert Baker on his way home from India, Simon said. Of course the bathrooms will have been put in after his time.'

'Simon distinctly told me it was only the men who were going to stay there and he also definitely implied it would all be rather squalid.'

'That,' said Magda, 'is nonsense.  You must have misunderstood him.  I've got a lovely little room all to myself, a little sitting-room it would normally be, with a window onto the rose garden and its own entrance from the verandah, and as soon as I saw it I thought it would do very well indeed as my bedroom.  So I persuaded Tom to help me move a divan into it from one of the upstairs bedrooms, and I'm taking it over for the duration.  I shall be most happy to stay there for as long as David wants to keep us here.  Where will you be staying then?'

'Andrew's borrowed a flat from a friend of his who's gone to Bermuda for a couple of weeks.'

'Oh.  How very convenient, I quite see why you’re not coming in with the rest of us.'

There was a knock on the door and Lucas poked his head into the room.  'Us girls not ready yet?' he enquired.  'Let's get this show on the road, shall we, one more time.'  He groaned, theatrically.

In spite of what she had just said to Sally, Magda was tempted.  'Is everyone going?' she asked.

'Yes, I think so,' Lucas replied, surprised that she should think otherwise.  'David's taken some Civic people back in his car, and Simon went with them, but the rest of us will just have to pig it in the Kombi.  There'll be more room coming back, obviously, with the other Kombi and the car.'

'Lucas,' said Sally, 'would you mind dropping me off first?  I'm giving this party a miss.'

'Yes, me too please, Lucas,'  Magda finally made up her mind,  'if you're driving, that is.  Me for me downy tonight, I think.'

'What?  Not both of you?' Lucas asked.  ‘Can't be that time of the month for all of us, surely?'

'Lucas,' said Magda, 'don't you try to be all-girls-together with me, I won't have it.'

'Sorry.'  He grinned at her, unabashed, and held the door open for them.  'Right.  Well, as long as you-all aren't coming, why don't we-all just go?'

They drove first to the address in town that Sally gave Lucas and then to the house in the suburbs that had been put at their disposal by, Simon had said, friends of David's father. Here Magda spent nearly an hour exploring every room in the place, like a cat.  She did not count them, but she thought vaguely at the end of her tour that there must be upwards of twenty.  She tried to imagine herself mistress of such an establishment, but failed, deciding in the end that it was a part she would not much care to play.  She spent another hour or so tending her body in one of the luxurious bathrooms upstairs (not one of those that were en-suite) and then she finally went to sleep in the little nest she had made for herself in the garden room downstairs.

In the first light of early dawn, she dreamed the house had fallen in on her during an earth tremor, a heavy beam across her legs keeping her from getting out from under, and she awoke to find Simon sitting on the end of her narrow divan with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands.  The fright she had felt in her nightmare, and the alarm she now felt on recognising him, made her cry out, as she tried to sit up and found she could not, his weight on the bedclothes keeping her as in a winding-sheet.  

'Simon!  For God's sake!  What's the matter, what's happened?'

He did not move, and she stopped struggling to sit up.  His voice when he spoke was toneless and barely audible.  He said:  'David's been arrested.'

'Arrested?  What for?'

He did not immediately answer.  He bent down, sitting on the bed, until his head was almost between his knees, his hands now clasped on the back of his neck, his forearms pressed against the sides of his head.  His voice when it came made the same toneless sounds as before.  'I said I didn't know him.'

'Simon?'  Magda now managed to pull herself free of the bedclothes and she crawled down to kneel beside him on the end of the bed, trying to take his face in her hands to see him, but he would not let her.  She now felt very frightened indeed.

'I said I didn't know him,' Simon repeated, his voice just above a whisper, tight with control.  He drew in his breath, through his mouth and his nose at once, and made an odd rasping noise, half gulp, half groan.

'Simon?'  Magda began to whimper, tried to hold him in her arms, tried again to see his averted face. 'Simon, what's the matter, what's wrong, what are you talking about?' 

'Television.  There were three of them, they had cameras going, and the girl stuck a mike in my face.  I  said I didn't know him,' Simon repeated for the third time.  'Why?  Tell me that.  What a stupid, meaningless – .  When everyone in town – the whole bloody country –  knows who we all are –  .  What got into me, what in the name of Christ made me think there was any point in –  .'

He slowly slid from the bed and fell forward, first onto his knees and then flat on the floor, in the posture of prostration.  Magda fell to the floor beside him, calling his name again and again in rising panic and getting no kind of response as he brought up great retching sobs from his belly, as if his body were vomiting.  

There was a bang on the door and Mark burst into the room, loudly demanding to know what in hell was going on around here.  He was closely followed by Judd, whose dark face looked stretched and grey.  Simon gathered himself up from the floor and stumbled past the two men in the doorway, stammering something incoherent about needing a lavatory.  Magda got to her feet and tried to  follow him, but Judd stopped her.

'Leave him be,' he said authoritatively, looking searchingly into her face, a hand on her arm.

Magda returned his steady gaze for a moment or two and then she went to sit on the bed with her hands in her lap.  She looked at the floor where Simon had lain, not at the two men in her room now.  'I am filled with dread,' she said, 'why do I feel like this?  What has happened?  What's wrong?' she asked.  'Judd?'  She appealed to him without looking up.  'What's wrong with Simon?  Why is he –  ?  I have never seen anyone weep like that, never.  Not even on stage.  Why is Simon crying as if –  ?  As if he's broken his heart.'

Mark leaned back in an armchair by the window and put his feet up on the little rocker in front of it.  He said savagely: 'I wish to Christ there'd been something else to drink apart from that bloody Chianti.  I've got such a head –  .  I swear I'll never touch another drop, not wine, not cheap bloody plonk, never again.'

'Of course,' Magda reminded herself, 'you all went to David's supper last night.'

'Supper!'  Mark snorted.  'Bread rolls and bloody Chianti, I wouldn't call that supper exactly.'

'They arrested him,' said Judd.

'Yes,' said Magda, 'Simon said.  But that's not what's –  .  For God's sake tell me, can't you, don't just –  .'  She took a deep breath.  'Is it serious?' she asked.  'I mean – how serious is it, why would anyone want to arrest David, what for?'

'It's  not serious,' Judd asserted, rather too loudly, 'they just say they pulled him in for  questioning.  Not serious.'

'No I didn't think it could be,' Magda agreed.  'But then what's the matter with Simon?  Why is Simon –  ?'

'I'm glad you don't think it's serious, Judd,' Mark said conversationally from behind his closed eyes,  'because if by some chance it did turn out to be serious I wouldn't much care to be in your boots.  Not after what you did.  Because it was you who actually handed him over, wasn't it?'  

'You just shut your mouth,' Judd said, even more loudly than before.  'It is not a serious matter, how can it be a serious matter?  There's nothing he did, what you think he did, to make it serious?  They want to ask him questions, it's all they want.'

'Questions bout what?' Magda asked.

'Don't ask me, man, ask them, correctional services, that's who you must ask.'

Mark put a hand over his closed eyes and gently pressed his temples, his thumb on one side of his head and his middle finger on the other.  'Judd,'  he said,  'when the pigs, the filth, the  fuzz, what d' you want to call them, when police come looking for your friends, you don't hand them over, like you did David.  First you find out what's up, what they're after, you ask for their warrant, you give your friend his chance to get the hell out of there, till you know what's what.  You don't just hand him over, like you did.'

Judd's eyes searched Mark's face, as earlier they had searched Magda's.  'Fuck you, white man,' he said evenly, 'you know what's his name?  You don't know what's his name,' he asserted, 'his name's not David, no way, and it's also not Dawid, no, what's his real name is his black name.  Freedom, liberation, democracy, human rights, that's what's his real name.  And because that's what's his real, true name, he will walk in this house now, today, before it's breakfast time, you just wait, and you'll see.'

He turned and left the room.  Mark lay back in his chair, complaining about his head once more.  Magda looked at him with strong distaste and said  'Would you like to tell me what this is all about?' and Mark said, uncaring, 'Your guess is as good as mine, dear, you tell me' and Magda jumped up with her fists clenched as if she were about to hit him.

'Mark for God's sake!  What happened at that party, tell me, you must tell me what happened last night.'

He opened his eyes to see her standing over him and then closed them again before starting to speak.

'It was Upstairs at The Market, as you know,' he began.  'I was standing near Judd, who was with a bloody noisy group of Blacks all shouting their heads off, and David was somewhere on the other side of the room, near the buffet somewhere.  I saw the two cops hanging about at the top of the stairs, not that I knew they were cops then, of course, they weren't in uniform or anything, they just looked a bit out of place, you could see they weren't theatre people, which is probably why I noticed them.  They seemed a bit lost, didn't know anybody.  Anyway, the next I saw they were talking to Barney, and he was getting a bit uptight and wanting to know who they were and what they wanted when master Judd suddenly pipes up –  you know how high he gets after one of his performances – and starts putting his oar in.  "You want Dave?" he says loud and clear, "you looking for old Dave here?" and he struts across to David and grabs him by the shoulders and kisses him on both cheeks and he says something sarcastic about David is his master, David is the only man he'll ever call boss.  Well, they go up to David and start chatting, and nobody thinks anything more of it, why should they, and then David starts to go off with them, meek as a lamb, and still nobody thinks anything of it till Barney starts yelling, it's the fuzz, detectives, they must be special branch.  So then all hell breaks loose and there's a terrific commotion and people start chasing down the stairs and the cops start running with David and get away in a car but then everybody starts piling into cars too and someone must have rung up the media, the Market PR dollies I shouldn't wonder, everything's grist to their mill, so by the time we got to John Vorster Square in the Kombi there was such a mob milling about, including television cameras if you please, we couldn't find anyone to tell us anything.  I  gave up after a bit and went to wait in the Kombi for Philip and the others, and then we came back here.  And that's all I know.'

He stopped talking and lay quiet, his eyes still closed.

'But why?' Magda asked, 'what for?   I don't understand, I don't at all understand what's going on.'

'Join the club,' said Mark.

Magda was wearing only her pyjamas, which were too thin and transparent to be worn in public, and, suddenly becoming aware of this, she stood up to put on her dressing-gown, which had fallen to the floor at the foot of her bed.  She said: 'I'm going to make myself some coffee, I think, if I can find any in the kitchen –  '

'Maids come with this house, you know.  There are at least two and probably more, I saw them yesterday.  Just ring, if you need anything.'  Limply he flapped a wrist, feeling for an imaginary bell-push, his eyes still shut.

'I wonder if Simon – .   Would you like a cup, shall I bring you a cup?'

'Angel,' said Mark in a kind of moan, 'you absolute angel you.  You wouldn't by any miraculous chance have some brandy or some aspirin or something, to put with it, would you?'

'Upstairs in one of the bathrooms,' Magda said, taking a brush to her hair, 'there is a cabinet so full of pharmaceutical junk and stuff, you could open a shop.  Go and see.'

Mark moaned again.  'Magda dear,' he said, 'if you could feel my head you would not ask me to  climb stairs in that unfeeling way.'

Magda looked at him dispassionately as she re-tied the sash of her dressing-gown more tightly and said no more.  In the kitchen she found instant coffee without having to search for it, and switched on an electric kettle.  She went upstairs to the bedrooms, and there, lying across the foot of a king-size bed in the master bedroom, she found Simon in the foetal position, fast asleep.  She stood gazing down at him for some time, and at one point put out a hand to wake him but, changing her mind, turned away to the bathroom instead.  In its medicine cabinet she found Panadol, and took this down to Mark, but he too was now fast asleep, snoring fit to wake the dead.  She left the Panadol on the floor next to his chair and went back to the kitchen, where the kettle had switched itself off.
She smoked two cigarettes with the coffee she made.  Then she went to see if there were anyone else in the house yet stirring, and, though all the bedrooms seemed to be occupied, she found no-one else awake.  She had been particularly hoping to find Tom.  But he seemed to be missing, together with one or two others of their number, Jannie and Matt among them.  Andrew would be with Sally, of course.  Of Judd there was now no sign; he had apparently left the house again.  If  Mark had not been in her own room she might have gone back to bed, but since his snores made the room uninhabitable she collected the things she needed and got dressed in the bathroom she had used the night before.  

After that, she went in search of a Bible.  Would the people who owned so much in this house also own a copy of the Bible?  In one of the glass-fronted bookcases in a room she had mentally designated someone's rather grand study the night before, during her exploration of the house, she found several Bibles, including two or three modern translations. She took down a volume bound in soft leather that proved to be a King James version, turned to the New Testament, and started paging through the first Gospel, reading only the running heads given at the top of each page.  Almost at once she came upon what she was looking for: the names of Christ's apostles.

She read through the list given in the text and then closed the book she was holding with a little clap.  Bart's name must be Bartholomew, she thought, (she found out later that it wasn't; it was Bartimeus) and Matt's obviously Matthew.  Jannie of course was John.                          

She put the Bible back in its place on the shelves and closed the leaded-glass door on it;  she stood still for a moment. and then said aloud: 'Well God help us all.'  She thought she would go out to find somewhere where she could breakfast quietly on her own, and left the house with this purpose in mind, quite forgetting it was a day on which most public places, if not all, would be closed, the day being Good Friday.

When Tom reached the house later that morning, he rang the bell (for he had no key) and this woke Philip, who took some time to realise where he was and what bell it was that was ringing.  By the time he had made his bleary way to the front door, Tom had already been admitted by one of the maids, and so Philip turned aside and stumbled into a cloakroom under the stairs.

Tom followed him.  'Where's Simon?' he demanded.

'How the hell should I know?' said Philip, closing the door to the lavatory in Tom's face.

'Didn't he come back with you in the Kombi last night? Or this morning, whenever it was?'

'No,' said Philip through the closed door and above the sound of water hitting water.

'He'd have had to bring Dave's car back,' Tom reminded himself.  He raised his voice again.  'Where's everybody?  Is there no-one else here?'

Simon had heard most of this exchange as he came downstairs (the doorbell had awoken him as well) and now he called as he reached the hall.  'Tom.  Hi.  Any news?'

Tom came from the back of the hall to meet him.  'News?  No news, no.  You know they brought him here?'

'Here?  What do you mean?  To this house?'

'No, to the gaol here.  There's a big central prison in town here somewhere.'

'To the gaol,' Simon repeated.  'But they can't just put him in gaol, can they?  What for?'

'Oh can't they,' Tom said grimly.

'He is entitled to legal representation,' Simon insisted, 'he knows that.  They can't just gaol him.  Who told you, how did you find out?'

'Judd,' said Tom, as Philip joined them.  'Judd knows someone who's got a brother inside, or it could be Judd's brother who's inside.  You never know with Judd, when you talk to him everybody turns out to be his brother, but that's how he got to know about Dave.  Through one of the warders, I suppose. Judd told me they took Dave away early this morning, perhaps even before that mob hanging about outside gave up and went home, or perhaps that was the whole idea, to get rid of them.'

'Did they really call the riot squad out?' Philip asked.

'There were blokes with loud-hailers,' said Tom.  'I don't know who they were.  I took them for ordinary police.'

'The riot squad used to have special uniforms,' Philip remarked, losing interest.  'I wonder if that woman who opened the door to you could be persuaded to fix us some breakfast.  I'll go and see, shall I?'

'David said we could all stay here, or as many of us as would fit in,' said Simon, 'the people who live here won't be back until June, but we have to find our own food.'

'Coffee and toast hardly counts as food,' Philip said, moving off in the direction of the kitchen, while Simon and Tom drifted out onto a verandah at the side of the house, where they settled themselves on the padded cushions of some white-painted garden furniture that they found there.

'No expense spared in this place,' Tom observed gloomily as he sat down.  'How does Dave get to know all these people he knows?'

'I think it's rather more they know his father.'

'Even so,' Tom replied.  He added: 'You'd think people like this, rich people, would be able to help with bail, at least.'

'They happen to be several thousand miles away,' Simon told him, 'in Europe somewhere.  Has there been no word from Matt?'

'Not that I've heard,' said Tom, 'not yet.  But it's still early days, Simon, he's going to have his work cut out trying to find a magistrate or anybody to do anything today.  It's  Good Friday, remember.'

'I don't think he's going to magistrates at this stage,' said Simon, 'he's going over the heads of magistrates.  From what he said last night, this friend of his is a pal of some big shot in government.  But I don't know exactly what Matt has in mind.'

'Well all I hope is he pulls it off soon, I have to know what to set for tomorrow.  It's supposed to be POTTING SHED, but how can we do POTTING SHED without Dave?'

Simon did not immediately reply.  Then he said: 'We'd better stick to the advertised schedule, Tom.  At least until we –  .  If necessary we'll have to do some more re-shuffling of understudies.  But they will surely not still be holding David by tomorrow night –  .  What for?'

Tom shrugged without replying.

'Matt will surely have managed to organise bail by tomorrow,' Simon continued, 'surely to God.   Isn't tomorrow an ordinary working day?'

'For shops, perhaps, but not for government-service types like magistrates.'

'Oh,' said Simon.  'But what can they possibly want with David all this time?' he burst out.  'What's David been up to that he hasn't told us, that we don't know about?'

'Nothing, probably,' said Tom.  'You know how it is once you get mixed up in politics, and I don't just mean ordinary government politics.   I mean anybody who likes to bugger other people around.  They don't care what you've done or not done – if they're gunning for you, all they're interested in is how to nail you.  And with Dave I'd say the trouble is nobody knows how they can nail him, they don't know whose side he's on.  These plays of his.  They're eurocentric, they're elitist, they're not multicultural, they're not democratic.  That's the first thing.  Then he puts them on in swanky, posh state theatres all over the place, it's not hole-in-the-corner workshop street theatre, and the media go mad for him.  Whose side's he on?  There's somebody thinks he needs to be taught a lesson, p'raps.'

'You mean they think that as a Black he could be a joiner, an uncle-tom?' Simon asked thoughtfully. 'Judd once said something to me about uncle-toms, I remember.'

'Then when he goes visiting right-wing farmers on their own farms you could even think he's on their side, if you didn't know him. What did Judd say about uncle-toms?'

'He was quite vicious,' Simon replied.  'He said cut their balls off, because they as good as had none anyway, and shove them up their backsides to where they've got no guts either.'

Tom made an odd little 'Hmph' sound through his nose by way of comment.  'What's his politics, by the way? – old  Judd's.'  

'I've no idea,' said Simon, 'has he any?'

'No I don't know either, but there could be trouble for Dave from that quarter too,  I'd say.  Who knows what goes on in these places where Blacks have to live?'

'Not Judd, I shouldn't think,' said Simon, 'nor Dave for that matter.  Do you remember the night the audience took over in that town hall that time?' he asked.

'Do I,'  Tom said grimly.  'I had to clean up.  Looked like a herd of elephants had been through the place next day.'

'There was a bit of a stink about that of course.'

'I thought Dave got it all sorted out.'

'And then the stink about our Civic Theatre opening,' Simon said, following his own line of thought.  'That woman who was so furious with him – she could have something to do with all this.'

'Well, you know more about that than me.  Old Dave certainly knows how to put people's backs up, that's for sure, even without really trying, but you ask me I'd say it's Judd at the bottom of this mess.  He's the nigger in the woodpile.'

Tom did not notice his racist mot juste, and Simon was much too worried to give it any attention.

'Judd's not straight with Dave,' Tom went on.  'There could be something going on that Judd knows and Dave doesn't.  That would be my guess.'

'Or,' Simon suggested miserably, 'that David does know but pretends not to because it's not his way.  He doesn't stop people doing things he thinks they shouldn't, he thinks people should find out for themselves, the hard way.'

'Oh there you are,' said Philip, coming out of the house onto the verandah just then.  'Do you know that woman produced a stack of hot cross buns from her larder –  this house has a pantry and a larder, by the way –  more than enough for a little mid-morning brunch for everybody.  I can't think who had the forethought to lay in a few supplies yesterday.'

'David of course, 'said Simon.

After that no-one said anything more for a while.  A gardener in overalls ambled past, pushing a wheelbarrow with a hose pipe on it, and the three men on the verandah gave him their several good-mornings.

'No shortage of menials about the place either,' said Tom.

'My dear Tom,' said Philip, 'the few we've seen are just the skeleton staff, they're nowhere near full strength.  The other twenty-five or so have all been given a holiday while the family is abroad.'

'What!' Tom looked at him, believing this until he saw Philip's grin.  'You're pulling my leg again, you blighter.'

When the younger of the two maids they had so far encountered came out with a laden tray (her name, according to Philip, was Hannah) Tom wondered aloud whether they shouldn't wake the others who were still asleep.  Neither Simon nor Philip made any answer and Tom himself made no move to carry out his suggestion, accepting a cup of coffee from Simon instead.  Each man helped himself to the buttered buns, and they ate and drank in a silence broken only by remarks like 'Sugar?' or 'These buns aren't half bad, are they' until Tom said, as Philip lit a cigarette, 'So.  That's it, then.  We just wait for Matt,' and again neither of the others replied, or at least not immediately.  Tom got out a pipe.  Simon said Matt had promised to ring up from wherever he might find himself, as soon as he had anything definite to report.

So the morning passed, rather slowly.  One by one the other occupants of rooms in the house got up and found their way to the verandah.  They swapped stories about their particular experience of the aftermath of David's arrest the night before, and only Simon was silent.  Some time after midday, it occurred to Mark that a house as well-appointed as this might possibly have a supply of liquor somewhere, and he went in search of it.  The drink he found in a cabinet in one of the downstairs sitting-rooms and on a rack in a passage off the pantry made his eyes glisten, and he went around offering everyone the drink of their choice, loudly calling upon all to bear witness that he personally would be responsible for seeing to it that they replaced everything they drank.

Magda telephoned at one stage, and spoke to Simon; she told him Matt had co-opted Andrew's help the night before, and now she herself, Sally, and Andrew were waiting for Matt to come back from seeing a man who was going to ring up some cabinet minister or someone, someone right up there at the top, whose name, she ended, seemed to be either Saul or Paul.

'Does it matter what his name is,' Simon asked, 'as long as he gets off his butt and does something about David?'

'No,' said Magda. 'I don't suppose it does.  It's just that ever since you woke me up this morning I've been finding people's names very peculiar, very peculiar indeed.  They suddenly seem to me to be fraught with some strange, arcane significance.  Including yours, I might add.'

'For God's sake, Magda!  What's peculiar about my name?  And is this a time to be thinking about people's names when David's –  '

'Goodbye, Simon, we'll all be along a little later, as soon as Matt shows,' said Magda, and abruptly put the telephone down.

It was some time after three when she and Sally with Matt and Andrew arrived and found that the party on the verandah had grown to include everyone in the company except Jannie and Judd –  and, of course, David himself.  The maid, Hannah, had earlier approached Simon with instructions from the cook to ask what should be done about luncheon for so much people. Nobody had told her to make food for so much people, and she took back Simon's assurance that so much people would all look after themselves; they would require neither luncheon nor dinner from the kitchen.  This being established, the cook had decided she and Hannah might just as well take the afternoon off as usual, and they had left the kitchen to the visitors.  When the four newcomers joined the party, the much replenished coffee pot was replaced at Magda's suggestion with a teapot, and a few more hot cross buns were found for Matt, who had not yet eaten that day.  The drinks trolley Mark had earlier assembled had so far proved more than adequate to any demand made on it.

Simon had seen in Matt's face the answer to everybody's question about David but asked it anyway.  'No go?'

'No, we got through to him,' said Matt.  'I  myself spoke to the minister.'

‘Good God,’ said Mark.

'And?' Simon asked.

'No, no problem,' said Matt.  'He didn't mind to be phoned up on his holidays, and he says he knows David – no, I tell a lie, it's David's father he knows rather, but he says he knows all about us and the Civic, he says he heard about the plays.  But he didn't know David's arrested.  He says he knows nothing about that.'

'That has to be balls,' said Lucas.

'Why should he know?' asked Simon.  'Go on, Matt.'

'He promised to look into it first thing Tuesday morning –  '

'Tuesday!'  Simon was dismayed.

' –  all the offices are closed, there's no-one he can contact till Tuesday.'

'He could phone Correctional Services,' Tom volunteered.  'Judd says they've got Dave in the central prison here, that won't be closed.  A man in his position could phone the prison governor, surely?'
'Of course he damn well could,' Mark agreed loudly. 'There's nothing to stop him from phoning the prison.  Did you ask him to, Matt?'

Matt was huddled on the side of a lounger, rubbing one fist into  the palm of his other hand while he spoke.  He looked  with strong aversion along the length of the verandah down towards where Mark was lying on another lounger next to the drinks trolley.

'No I didn't.'  He was extremely short.

'Why not?' asked Mark.  'I'd have said it's the obvious thing for him to – '

'Because I didn't fucking know, that's why not,' Matt shouted. 'I didn't know where David is.'

'I think,' Magda said to Simon, 'that Matt has worked an absolute miracle today and somebody ought to say so.  I mean, really, a cabinet minister, and on a public holiday, and getting him to – '

'I muffed it too, Matt,' Simon said unsteadily.  'I could have kicked up a stink on television, I was given the chance, but I didn't.  I muffed it.  David'll know what we did,  it doesn't matter.  Don't worry about Mark.' 

'Ring him again,' Mark was loudly suggesting.  'If you've got his number now, give him another ring.  I'll talk to him this time, if you like.'

'What a good idea,' Lucas murmured to Bart, who happened to be sitting next to him, 'old blabber-mouth himself.'

Matt looked questioningly at Simon, who, after a moment, obliquely answered the unspoken question.  'There's a good chance we'll simply antagonise him if we ring up again,' he said, 'and all the good work you've done will go for a burton, but perhaps it's a chance we should take.  We could say the reason is David's supposed to appear at both performances tomorrow, and on Monday, which isn't strictly true but anyway that could be our excuse for ringing again.  What do you think, Matt, you actually spoke to the guy.'

'If only I thought of it when we were still talking,' said Matt.  'If I only did.'

'Have you in fact got the number?' Simon asked him.

'No, they wouldn't give it to me, they said it's unlisted, so they rang him up and spoke first, and then they gave me the chance to speak.  I'll go and ask if they'll give me the number, or we can go to their house again.'

He went inside, and Simon followed him to a telephone on the desk in the room on the other side of the house where Magda had earlier found a Bible.

Meanwhile, out on the verandah, Magda looked around her and asked: 'Where is the disciple whom Jesus loved?'

Mark choked on his drink and spluttered his mirth in a fine spray that Lucas for one observed with strong distaste.

'She means Jannie,' Mark tried to explain, between coughs, as he recovered.

'Really,' said Lucas, irritated that Mark had caught a reference he himself had not.  'That little joke of yours is wearing a trifle thin, dear,' he told Magda.  'You make it so often.'

'It is no longer a joke,' Magda said bleakly, 'or if it is it's a different one now.  More what you'd call a sick joke.'

'Jannie went to meet David's mother at the airport this morning,' said Philip.  'He asked me last night if he could take one of the Kombis,' he added to Tom.

'David's mother?' Magda repeated.

'Yes.   Apparently David asked him to.  Contact her, that is.  He didn't want her to hear about it all on television or something.  So Jannie rang her up and she said she was going to catch the first plane she could.'
Magda said, as bleakly as before:  ‘”Jesus said: Behold thy mother”.  You see,'  she told Lucas,  'it isn't a joke at all.  Not even a sick joke.  It's  for real.'

'Magda dear what are you on about now?' he asked severely.

But Magda was looking to see where she had put her handbag.  'Where're my cigarettes?' she asked.  'I have already had double my ration for today so far and it's still only four o' clock in the afternoon.'  She slipped off her watch, shook it, and held it to her ear.  'Is it really only ten past four?'

'It's been a long day,' said Andrew.

'And getting longer,' Magda agreed, lighting her cigarette.

'Why do you keep quoting the Bible?' Sally asked.  'I thought it was worse than MACBETH, to quote from the Bible.'

'Only in the theatre, dear,' said Lucas, 'not here.'

'You're a fine one to talk,' Magda rounded on Sally almost viciously.  'You with the name you have.  Salome.  I ask you.  Your mother must have been demented.'

Sally gaped in astonishment at the vehemence of Magda's tone.  Before she could say anything, however, Mark broke in.

'My dear Sally,' he said with delight, 'is your name really Salome?  Oh won't you dance for us please?   I'm sure we can find some veils in this house.' 

Sally made a dismissive little noise and went to sit with Andrew and Philip a little way off.

'There are more Salomes than one in the Bible, I'll have you know, Mark, and the famous one isn't the one we have to deal with here.'  Magda was now pacing slowly between two pillars on the edge of the verandah, puffing at her cigarette in an effort not to inhale more than one draw in three.  She turned to stand in front of Lucas.  'I'll tell you what I'm on about,' she said, 'since you ask.  Actually I'm –  .'  She stopped, and then started speaking again in an altogether different tone of voice.  'I'm frightened.  I am so frightened, and of nothing, that's the point,  I'm so frightened of nothing I think I may be going mad.  I want to ask where Judd is,  but I'm too frightened to, in case he's gone and hanged himself.'

'Hanged himself?'  Tom spoke above a little cry from Sally.  'What makes you think Judd would hang himself, what for?  What's got into you, Magda, pull yourself together now.'    

'Yes indeed, dear,' said Lucas.  'Enough of all this sibylline mystery.'

'Sibylline's not the right mythology,' Magda told him, 'this is biblical, not classical.'


'So my name’s Magdalena, not Cassandra – 

‘Well, thank God for that at any rate.’

‘ –  Magdalena as in Mary Magdalene.  You know?'

'No I don't, no.  Does it have some special significance?  Apart from being biblical, that is.'

'Nearly all the names there are are in the Bible,' Tom pointed out heavily.  'It's not only Jews go in for them.  Not fancy made-up names like Charlene, they’re not.'

Magda ignored them both.  'Do you know what the P in Simon's signature stands for?' she asked, and answered her own question: 'Peter.  It stands for Peter.  His name's Simon Peter.'


At that moment, Judd came round a corner of the house and approached them along the gravelled path between the lawn and a flower border below the verandah where they were all sitting.

'Judd!'  Magda cried as soon as she saw him, and she stepped down to the path to meet him.  'You will never know how relieved I am to see you.  Are you all right?  Come and sit down.  Can I get you some tea?  Or a drink? – what?'

'No nothing, I don’t want.'  Judd lowered himself onto the edge of the verandah, his back against a pillar.  He looked out over the garden.

'So who or what does Judd's name signify,' Lucas enquired of Magda, who was pouring a half-cup of black tea for herself,  'in this pantheon of classical and biblical figures you are so happily assembling for us this afternoon?'

'I don't know,' said Magda, slowly stirring her tea.  She sat down on the verandah steps near Judd.  'What's your real name, Judd, where does it come from?'

'From Fugard,' said Judd.   'Athol Fugard, that writes the plays.  Some of his plays he also wrote for Africans.  It was him, he gave me this name Judd, he said Judd is a good name, good stage name, when I act in his play in the States one time, Master Harold and the Boys.   It's like stateside names, he said.  That is why I am Judd.   Judd Mhlongo.'

'Yes, but then what is your real name?' Magda persisted, 'the name your mother called you?'

'All her children she called names in the Bible,' said Judd.  'She was a good woman.  Good Christian woman, went to church, not only Sundays.  My brother, my one brother, is Epaphras.  My other brother, my old brother, in the States, he is Ezekiel. My one sister, Hepsibah.  My other small brother, Habbakuk.  Ezra and Obadiah also, but they die,  long ago.'

'Goodness,' said Lucas in an undertone to Bart, 'such begettings as do still go on, to be sure.'

'And you?' Magda asked, not heeding Lucas, 'what name did she call you?'

'Judah,' said Judd.  'Judah,' he repeated, giving the second syllable more than its full value in an expiring sigh.  'Second name Samuel.  Judah Samuel.'

'Judah Sa – .'  Magda put her cup down on the step beside her and folded her hands in her lap.  She did not look up when Simon re-appeared in one of the doorways leading from the house, closely followed by Matt.

Their faces were still grave.  Looking at them, Tom repeated Simon's earlier question to Matt, 'No go?' and Mark, reaching for a bottle to pour another drink, said: 'Success?'

'No,' said Simon.  'I'll have one now too please Mark.'

'Yes of course,' said Mark.  'Scotch?'

'I made a mistake,' Simon continued, 'I shouldn't have spoken to him myself, I should have let you do all the talking, Matt, you obviously got onto his right side before –  '

'And you didn't?' Lucas asked.  'Why, what happened?  What went wrong?'

'Nothing went wrong, Lucas, he was perfectly well-disposed and willing to help all he could but –

'But he washed his hands.'  Magda was sitting very still on the verandah steps and staring out over the garden, away from everybody.

'As a matter of fact, that is exactly what he said, how did you know?'  Simon glanced briefly at Matt in surprised question.  'Is there an extension here somewhere, were you listening on an extension?'

'It's been said before, you know.'  Magda's voice was very low and its tone altogether reasonable, as if this observation explained everything there was to be explained.

'What he said was, just before he hung up, he said "I must wash my hands of this now.  On Tuesday we will talk further".  It's amazing you should hit on the exact phrase he used.'

'What's the time?' Magda asked, and Tom told her: 'Ten to five.'

'I've a feeling we should now ring the prison perhaps.'  Magda picked up her abandoned teacup and slowly poured its dregs into the flowerbed.

'What for?' asked Tom.  'They wouldn't listen to anything we say.'

'Not to ask them to let David go.  Just to ask if he's okay.'

'But Magda it's not like ringing up a hospital, or something.  They wouldn't tell us how he is, they'd think we're mad.'

'You're certainly going to town on feminine intuition this afternoon, aren't you,' Lucas interrupted, observing her through narrowed eyes.  'What is it now?' 

Magda shook the last drops of tea from the rim of her cup and set the cup back on its saucer without replying.

Simon said: 'I'll ring up if you like, but –  .  Who should I ask for, do you think, who should one speak to?   The governor?'

‘I shouldn’t think the governor will be on duty on a day like today.’

Judd got slowly to his feet, his head down, as he looked at the ground on which he stood.   'You don't have to ring up,' he said.  'I will tell you, because I know.  She knows too.   He is dead.'

Everybody spoke at once.  Simon said sharply: 'Who is dead, what are you talking about?'  'Don't be so stupid, how can he be dead, what from?' Tom said at the same time, and Mark: 'Aagh, come off it, Judd, you talk shit.'  Everyone was staring at Judd, except Lucas, who was staring at Magda.

'Is that why you wanted to ring the prison?' he asked her, 'is that the feeling you –  '

Magda paid no attention.  'Judd,' she said, 'if you are lying, if you are in cahoots with David over this, if you're doing it because he asked you to –  .  Look – ' she appealed a little hysterically to the others, speaking very quickly –  'it's not impossible.  He's done it often enough before, God knows, you've only to remember how EWEH started.  David could have set this up, deliberately, an exercise in improvisation, which he's going to get us to rehearse so he can turn it into a passion play for Easter.  This could very well be, I would not put it past him,  I  don't trust David an inch.  Only if it is one of his little exercises, if it is, I think I will kill him, I will kill him with my bare hands,' she told Judd.

'What for you want to kill him when he is dead already?  He is dead,' Judd repeated.  'This afternoon, three o'clock.'

He started to walk away along the gravel path towards the back of the house, and Tom jumped up to call him back.  'Hey Judd wait.  You can't just walk off like that, what happened, you have to tell us what happened.  What did your brother in the gaol tell you, what happened?'

Judd stood still on the path but did not turn round.  'He is not in the gaol now.  They let him go.  This morning they take him out the gaol to another place.'

'Where?' demanded Simon, 'where'd they take him?'

'Where they kill him.'

'Kill him?'  Tom's voice was high with disbelief.  'Who?  Who killed him?'

Judd turned to look at Simon.  'How can that be?  I never thought such a thing could be.  They just say he is not the President's friend and they kill him.'  He turned again to walk on, disappearing around a corner of the house.  This time no-one stopped him.

Magda stood up, turning away from the garden to look at the others on the verandah, her back against a pillar.

'Well, now.'  Lucas drew a deep breath.  'There's nothing else for it, is there, we shall simply have to ring the police now, Simon, at once.'

'Yes,'  said Simon.  He looked bewildered.  'But I still don't –  . If David isn't –  .  If what Judd said is –  .  What in the name of God is going on?'

'Look here,' said Tom, 'enough, the whole lot of you.  That Judd –  I don't trust what Judd says, I told you, Simon, how can Dave be dead?  It's what? – it's not a day since they took him in –  '

'And let him go again,' said Magda.

' – a man in the prime of life –  '

'Thirty-three,' said Magda, ' he was exactly my age.'  It no longer mattered that she was no longer twenty-nine.

' –   how can a man in the prime of life die just like that, so easy – ?'

Magda said –  remote, detached: 'Judd says he was killed, Tom.'  She thought but did not say:  Crucified.

'Judd says,' Tom repeated dismissively.  'Who cares what Judd says?  I don't believe what Judd says –  '

'It is not at this stage a question of belief,' said Magda, 'it's a question of fact.  Ordinary everyday fact, that can be verified.'

'Yes,' said Tom, 'you're right.  I'll go to that gaol straightaway myself, you needn't ring up, Simon.  I'll get the truth out of them if it takes me all day.'

'All night,' Lucas murmured, as Tom started to leave.

'Okay if I take Dave's car?' Tom asked, but while he was still speaking there came the sound of a woman's scream from somewhere at the back of the house. It was followed immediately by a second cry, longer and higher pitched, and then by an ululation that approached through the house and developed, as it got nearer, into lamentations and callings upon God: Eheaugh! Eheaugh! Eheaugh! Thixo! Thixo!  The two maids burst out upon the verandah, the cook slightly ahead of Hannah.  She was stopped in her headlong rush by Simon, who in response to their alarm had started through the doorway from which they emerged.

'Master come quick,' the cook screeched into Simon's face, her voice pitched even higher than before, 'in the back there he is hanging, he is hanging, that man come here yesterday with you.'

She released herself from Simon's holding her upper arms, and, crouching down in a chair, her arms over her head, she started to rock herself violently back and forth, shrieking anew.  The other maid, Hannah, at once followed her example.

Simon left the verandah at a run, Tom and a couple of the younger men hard on his heels.  Magda whispered to herself  'He departed and went and hanged himself'  but nobody heard her above the noise the two servants were still making.  She slipped down the pillar she was leaning against, until she was sitting flat on the tiled floor of the verandah.  Sally ran to her, calling her name, and Lucas did a knees-bend next to her, anxiously taking her hand.  'Are you all right?' he asked, but Magda heard and saw nothing.

'Can't someone get these bloody women to shut up?'  Mark shouted with great irritation.  'Smack their faces, they're hysterical.  Thula, wena, thulani,' he suddenly bellowed at the top of his voice, in what he thought might be a language they'd understand, but the two women, sensing further drama, were now intent on Magda and made no abatement in their wailing.

Tom came running along the gravel path from the back of the house.  'We've cut him down,' he told them, 'and Simon's trying to get hold of a doctor, but I'm sure he's a goner.  It's Judd.   Judd's gone and hanged himself.'  

Despite the attempts Sally and Lucas were making to help her to her feet, Magda slowly fell sideways until she was lying on her side on the verandah with her legs drawn up along the front of her body.

'O Christ,' she said, her voice hoarse, rasping in her throat, and again: 'O Christ.'

Her eyes closed.  When Tom and Lucas carried her to her room, her body was as limp and relaxed as a sleeping child's, and when they laid her on her bed her breathing was regular and even.  Tom went back to tell Simon of this further development, reaching the verandah just in time to see Mark empty the contents of the ice bucket over the two wailing women.  In Magda's room, Lucas drew up the chair in which Mark had slept earlier and sat down in it, to watch over her until she should awake.

Though the house was far from quiet until late that night, she did not wake. Motor cars came and went with urgency, doors banged, bells rang, and the falling dusk was filled with the sound of hurrying footsteps both inside and outside the house, but Magda slept through it all.  She stirred occasionally, and once she half-woke, saying Lucas's name when he leaned over her.  After this, he felt he could safely leave her.  Later, however, after the police had been and gone, and after Simon and Tom had returned from the prison, unable to confirm or deny what Judd had said, having learnt from an impervious officialdom only that David had been released, he was no longer being held, Lucas went back to Magda's room, and this time he lay down next to her, taking her in his arms and holding her until the whole house went quiet, as one by one all the lights that had been on were switched off and all the noises ceased, and he too fell asleep.


the forty days

 - Forty?  Why forty?

 - Well –  .  It seems that in the East at any rate forty might be another almost mystic kind of number, like three, or seven.

  -Oh?   Do you mean the forty in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves doesn't just mean there were  forty of them – it’s supposed to suggest something more?

 - Well, yes, I suppose so, now that you come to mention it.  But I was thinking more of the rain that was upon the earth forty days and forty nights when Noah was six hundred years old, and of the children of Israel that did eat manna forty years in the wilderness, or the forty days and forty nights that Christ fasted in the same wilderness, and of  His being seen of his followers for forty days after his death –

 - All these forties are in the Good Book, are they?

 - Yes.   More, if you care to look for them.

 - I hope you're not one of these tedious apologists who try to defend all that old codswallop in the Bible by calling it literature, and full of –  poetry.

 - Watch it, Buster.  ‘The significance of poetry is second to none’.

Some time in May that year, it occurred to Jannie that it would be nice if he could arrange a get-together of all the members of Dawid's old company who had not gone with Simon to New York –  for, after David's death, Simon  had decided to close at the State Theatre after only a week (booking had not been heavy) and to take the two indigenous plays in their repertoire (not THE POTTING SHED) to New York.  The immediate circumstances prompting Jannie to these thoughts of a get-together were, firstly, his assumption that all the members of the company not in New York were now back in the coastal town where the tour had started (this assumption was to prove incorrect), and, secondly, his acting as house-sitter for some people who owned a house in a holiday resort a little way along the coast from that town.  Originally, it was David's mother who had been asked if she would be willing to house-sit for a few weeks (these kind friends had thought it might help to take her mind off the killing of her son) but then, when everything had been settled, she decided she could not possibly leave home for so long a time and so had sent Jannie down alone; she would join him, perhaps, a little later.  Jannie had been staying with David’s mother since the day after the plays closed.

So now with a whole house at his disposal, and feeling rather lonely in it, he let it be known among as many of David's original company as he could contact that anyone who brought their own food and drink was very welcome to join him for the Saturday to Monday of a week-end in mid-May.  It was a very informal invitation, he did not know exactly how many people might come, let alone who they might be, but on the Saturday after Ascension Day – not that either Jannie or anyone else took note of the day – he was expecting at least two people and was in fact waiting up for them.  Magda and Tom had said they would drive down together after the evening performance of the play Magda was appearing in for another director at his Theatre on the Bay (a revival of Noel Coward’sHAY FEVER, in which she was playing Myra).

They had arranged that Tom would pick her up at the theatre and they would leave from there.

'How lovely,' Magda sighed, as she adjusted her seat in the car so that she could lie back in it.  'It's really very sweet of you, Tom, to drive me through the night like this, sheer heaven.  You won't mind if I drop off, now and then, will you?'

'I'd be flattered,' Tom said gallantly.

'But I probably shan't, I'm enjoying it too much.'  She sighed again as she settled herself for the journey.  'This car is exactly like the one David had, where did you get it?'

'It is Dave's car,' said Tom, 'or one of his father's, he always said.  Simon took it over when we – .  After Dave –  .  I don't know if the family didn't want to be reminded, why they didn't want it back, but Simon certainly had the use of it till they went to New York and then he said I could use it while he's gone.'

'Goodness how kind.'  Magda scrabbled in her handbag for cigarettes and asked: 'Do you mind if I smoke?'

'Not at all, please do,' said Tom, pulling out an ashtray for her.

Magda smoked and Tom drove and neither said much until he had negotiated a winding scenic drive that had been cut into the hills, though there was little enough for them to look at, at that time of night; then, when the road straightened out and levelled following the coast line again, Magda said: 'Tell me something, Tom.  Why didn't you go to New York with Simon and the others?'

'Why didn't you?' Tom countered.

'He didn't ask me.  Or rather he did, but he didn't really have all that much to offer me in the two plays they've taken.  My one decent part, if you remember, was in that awful POTTING SHED, and that's one part I'll never play again.  And I  also couldn't stand the man they found to replace Judd, the run at the State was quite bad enough.'

'You and me too,' said Tom.  'No more could I.'

'Well it wasn't him so much, I don't suppose, it was more all the associations.  I kept seeing Judd in the part, the new man seemed wrong all the time.'

'I think he's come right now.  For New York.'

'And then the plays were so full of David, for me, there's hardly a moment that doesn't reek of him.  I still don't know how I got through that last week – .  I couldn't wait to get off stage, night after night, so I could go to my dressing-room and cry my eyes out.'

'Yes,' said Tom, 'I haven't forgotten that time either. So have you heard from anybody over there?’

'I had a card from Simon,'  Magda replied.  'They hadn't opened yet, so there was no real news.'

'How is old Simon?'

'You heard about the welcome-to-New York party the embassy laid on for them?'

'The embassy!'  Tom's astonishment was extreme.  'You mean our embassy in the States gave an official reception for Simon and our lot?  Why, what’d they do?'

'Well I don't know about official,' said Magda, 'and obviously it was that Paul or Saul man who was behind it, but it did happen, I do assure you.'

'What Paul man?  The Correctional Services bloke Matt got to ring up that day Dave was –  ?'

'The same.'

'How'd he get to America?'

'Who knows?  He resigned, or he was kicked out –  '

'Kicked out of his job?  What for?'

'I don't know, Tom, but I would guess that somebody had to take the rap, when the inquiry into – . When they tried to find out about David.  This Paul might very well have been the fall guy, who was promised a posting to Washington or wherever, as a sort of quid pro quo.'

'You mean he's the ambassador there now?'

'Oh ambassador, no, I shouldn't think ambassador,' Magda responded.  'Simon just said he's attached to the embassy, he didn't say what as.' 

After that, they were silent for some time once more.  When they reached the highway and Tom started picking up speed, Magda offered to sing in order to help keep him awake at the wheel, but he declined this offer.  On the further side of a mountain pass leading down to the resort they were making for, they spoke once more, this time about Jannie.  Magda wanted to know if Tom had seen him since the company broke up at the end of the tour.

'No,' said Tom.  'When Simon was casting for New York, he wanted Jannie to play his same parts, that I do know.  But Jannie said he couldn't leave Dave's mother, so that was Sol's big chance.'

'Yes, well, Jannie never did have any difficulty knowing which side his bread is buttered.  Do you think she'll be there tonight?'

'Who, Dave's mother?  No, why should she?'

'Isn't it her house?  I thought it was.'

Tom was alarmed.  'No, man, Magda, surely Jannie would have said so, if she was going to be there.  She wouldn't want to see us all, you and me, and the others, we'd all just remind her of everything.  She wouldn't want to rake it all up again.'

'Of course not,' Magda agreed.  'But this bash Jannie's organised, it's not just us, is it?' she asked, alarmed in her turn.  'I mean not just people who were with David on that tour, there are going to be other people as well, I hope?'

'I don't know,' said Tom.  'Are there?'

'If I'd thought for one instant it's supposed to be some kind of reunion or something, I'd never have come.'

Tom hesitated, and then said: 'Well I must say it was a bit of a surprise to me when you said you wanted a lift,' he told her.  'I never thought you and Jannie ever hit it off too good.'

'We were never what you might call bosom pals,' Magda said primly, 'but we always got on perfectly well together.  You weren't a particular friend of his either, were you, and yet here you are too, going down to stay with him.'

'Oh well it makes a bit of a change, to get out of town for a couple of days.  But I'd just as soon not have come, if you hadn't asked for a lift.'

'I  hope you're not going just for my sake.'

'No no,' he denied, 'it's good to have a break, otherwise you get in too much of a rut.'

'Yes,' Magda agreed, 'one needs a break occasionally.'

After another mile or two, however, she broke the silence between them to say: 'Okay, Tom, I'll level with you.  Also with myself, I suppose.  In a way.  To be perfectly honest, the only reason I even considered accepting this invitation of Jannie's is to try to lay David's ghost.'

'Lay Dave's ghost?' Tom repeated, 'how do you mean lay his ghost?'

'I am not exaggerating, Tom, I promise you.  These last few weeks David's been absolutely haunting me, there is no other word for it, and I am sick to death of the same old thoughts going through my mind, round and round, the same never-ending –  .  I want to stop now.  It's one of the reasons I didn't go to New York with Simon, and God knows I can't afford to turn work down when it offers, I have to eat too.  I'm hoping if I see Jannie again now, and I talk to him about David, I'll remember it as it really was, and not as it came to seem on that dreadful day when –  .  Goodness, shall one ever forget that Good Friday.'  She shivered in her seat. 

It was Tom's turn to keep silent.  Then he said, also after another mile or so:  'Yes.  I see what you mean.  I feel a bit the same way myself.  What we went through last Easter –  .  It wasn't – .  You’d rather forget a thing like that, if you can, so when Jannie first spoke to me I had half a mind not to go.  But then I thought no, better face up to it, it's not a thing you are ever going to be able to forget.'

'It may not be possible, of course,' Magda said bleakly, 'the exorcism bit, that is.  And if there are going to be a whole lot of us from that famous tour it certainly won' be.  Do you know of anyone else who'll be there?'

'No.  Well, I did bump into old Lucas last Sunday.  He said he might show up, if nothing better offered.'

'Lucas,' Magda repeated flatly.  'Who else?"

'No, I don't know, Magda.  There can't be many more because they all went with Simon.'

'There are four of us so far who didn't,' she pointed out, 'there may be others.  Oh God, I'm beginning to wish I hadn't come.'

Shortly after that, they arrived at the holiday resort, and, after asking directions at a police station they passed, finally at the house where Jannie was waiting for them.

He came out when he heard the car.  'Hullo Magda, hullo Tom,' he called with great warmth as soon as he was sure it was indeed they.  'Is it you at last?   You can put your car in the back, Tom, the garage is full but there's room in the back yard.  Come in, come in, you are very welcome, I am very glad to see you.  We'll eat some supper, drink some wine, it's all ready.'

While Tom put the car away, Jannie led Magda into the living-room of the house, talking all the way.  The curtains on one wall of the room were close-drawn, there was a wood fire burning in the fireplace, and on a card table to one side of the fire were glasses and little dishes of pate's and dips.

'I'll just fetch the bread rolls from the stove then we can eat,' Jannie said busily.  'Sit down, make yourself at home.'

He bustled off to the kitchen, and came back ushering Tom ahead of him.  Tom went towards the fire and there picked up one of the bottles of wine Jannie had opened and left re-corked at the side of the fireplace.  He stood looking at the bottle and then he looked up at Jannie.  'Did you do this on purpose, you little –  .' 

'What?' Jannie asked defensively.  'What did I do on purpose?'  He was standing at the card table arranging napkins and knives on small plates.

'This is the very same wine we had Upstairs at the Market the night they arrested Dave,' said Tom.  'You mustn’t try to tell me you don't remember.'

'I wasn't at that party,' Magda recalled.

'Come to that, it's all exactly the same as that night, bread rolls and stuff, everything's the same.'  Tom was staring now at the food on the card table.  'You did do it on purpose,' he accused, 'what's the matter with you?  You stupid or something?'

'I found the wine in the wine cellar here,' said Jannie.  'I didn't go and buy it special.  But when I find it, I think why not?  I'll make a nice supper in memory of Dawid, in remembrance of him.'

'Magda and I were just saying in the car,' Tom told him bluntly, 'we don't want to be reminded of it.  We'd rather forget it all now.'

'Forget Dawid?' exclaimed Jannie.  'Never.  That I could never do, even if I wanted.  I can never forget Dawid, not so long as I live, how can a person ever forget Dawid?'

'Not Dave,' said Tom, 'what happened that night at the Market, and after.  After Judd as good as handed him over.  That's not a thing you want to dwell on and remember, it's a thing you'd sooner forget.' 

'Pour the wine, Jannie,' Magda interrupted, perceiving that he was close to tears, 'and let's drink a toast to David's memory.  We can do that at least, Tom, surely.'

Jannie handed her a glass of wine.  'This house is full of Dawid,' he told her.  'His spirit is here.'

'Really,' said Magda flatly, taking a sip of her wine.

'Dawid's mother told me he come for holidays here, when he was still small, to these people.'

'Oh,' said Magda in the same flat tone as before.

'There are photographs I found in a box, there are many photographs of Dawid in this house when he was little.  I will show you.'

'Perhaps later,' Magda said edgily.  'Not now.'

'No, not now, now we will first eat.'

Tom, standing near the fire, made an inarticulate sound and a movement of impatience.  'Is this how you lay ghosts?' he asked Magda.

'I   don't know,' she said.  'It’s' not a thing I’ve ever done before.'

'Tom,' said Jannie, 'I'm sorry, but you mustn't think like you do, so bitter about Dawid.'

'I'm not bitter,' Tom denied, surprised.

'No but let me tell you first about Minister Paul,' said Jannie.  'He was by the house, I mean the house of Dawid's mother, before he goes to America.  He even resigned, over what happened with Dawid.'

'He was more or less forced to, surely?' said Magda.

'No it wasn't, he himself resigned.  Dawid's mother, she told me, I know it from her.  One day not so long after I go to stay by them, here come Dawid's father on with Minister Paul in his car.  They meet on the road, by a garage, they are getting petrol, and Dawid's father he doesn't care, he goes straight up to Minister Paul and he asks him straight out over Dawid.'

'Were they by any chance on the road to Damascus?' Magda asked levelly.

'Damascus?'  Jannie looked blank.

'Magda for God's sake don't start on all that about the Bible again, please,' said Tom.

'I don't know any place here called that,' said Jannie, 'it was just a place where you get petrol, like Shell Ultra City.  I don't know where they are going, but in the end they don't go, because that's when Minister Paul comes to the house.  He stays three days and talks private with Dawid's father every day.  But then he goes back to his work and next thing we hear he resigns and he's going to America.  Dawid's mother says it's all to the will of Dawid.  For Dawid's sake,' Jannie corrected himself.

The telephone had started to ring before he finished speaking and he called an 'Excuse me' over his shoulder as he went to answer it.

Magda looked up at Tom, who was still standing by the fire.

'I shouldn't have come,' she told him.  'I must have been insane to think it would change anything.'

'You can't change the past,' Tom agreed.

'Oh but you can,' said Magda.  'It's the one thing that is constantly changing, haven't you noticed?  It's the future I'm beginning to think one can't change, do what you will.  But the past – .  Aren't you finding Jannie a little –  ?  He's giving what happened a whole new dimension tonight, and I'm not sure I want that.  If we're not careful, we're going to be more involved than ever.'

'Involved in what?'

'In what happened, whatever it was.  And I'm even beginning to think Jannie has his points,' she added.  'It used to be easier when I simply loathed his guts.'

Jannie came back into the room just then.  "That was Dawid's mother,' he said in an agitated way.  'She says I must be sure to watch television tomorrow night because there is going to be a play of Dawid's and she says I must record it for her but the VCR machine here, it doesn't want to work, I already tried to make it work the other day but it won't.'

'Couldn't you hire one, tomorrow morning?' asked Magda.

'Who that is coming can bring one?' Jannie wondered aloud, 'but I don't know who all is coming.'

'Didn't you say Lucas might?' Magda asked Tom.

'Lucas!' Jannie repeated the name with relief.  'Yes, I'll phone Lucas again, perhaps he's got one.'

'Do you have Lucas's number?' Magda asked curiously.

'Yes I got it, I wrote it down, I wrote down everybody's number when I make my list.  Come,' he said, 'let's go phone Lucas, you speak to him.'        

Lucas was undressing in his beach-front flat when the telephone rang.  He was not best pleased to be asked to go chasing after VCRs on a Sunday morning (he did not possess one), but the call did serve to remind him of Jannie's invitation, which he had forgotten.  Hearing that Magda was already there resolved him on making the schlep out of town after all.  He said Jannie might expect him for luncheon the next day, if they ate late; otherwise an early tea would be just as welcome.

When he arrived shortly after three o' clock that afternoon, Magda and Tom were on the point of setting out for a walk along the beach with the two dogs that were part of Jannie's responsibilities as house-sitter.  Lucas drew up outside the garden gate just as Tom was opening it for Magda, who had the dogs on leads, and Jannie came running down the garden path from the house.

'Did you bring it?' he called out.

Lucas banged the door of his little MG shut.  'Yes,' he said, 'if you mean the VCR.  I borrowed one from Paddy.  I also brought the tape Bart brought back from New York last week,' he added.  'I take it none of you has seen it yet.'

'I didn't know Bart was back,' said Magda, 'let alone that he'd brought a tape with him.  Why has he come back?'

'I've no idea,' said Lucas.  'I didn't see him myself, Jimmy with the beard gave me the tape.  It's a sort of round robin we're all supposed to pass on to one another.'

'What is on this tape?' Jannie asked.

'It's sort of instead of a letter, I gather,' said Lucas, 'I haven't had time to look at it myself yet.  Jimmy says it's not very good.'

'But how fascinating,' said Magda.  'I can't wait.  Don't you two go playing it before we get back,' she admonished, 'we shan't be long.'

'If you'll hang on half a tick,' said Lucas, 'I'll join you.'

'Catch us up,' Magda suggested.  The dogs were pulling at their leads.  'We're only going down to the beach.'

'Here, let me take them,' Tom offered, as he and Magda set off and Lucas opened the boot of his car.

'Why didn't you bring Jimmy too?' Jannie asked as he carried the machine Lucas had brought up to the house, 'and Bart too.  Or are they coming still?'

'I doubt it,' said Lucas laconically.  'Bart said he'd landed himself another job at the Civic and Jimmy must be in the States by now.'

'I hope there’ll be more people coming,' Jannie said, momentarily downcast.  He cheered up at once: 'But even it it's just us four it will also be good, perhaps better even.  I'll now just connect this all up ready for tonight.'

'Need any help?'

'No, I will just see if it all works first.'

He showed Lucas to a bedroom, and then went about his task.  Lucas put on a pair of bathing-shorts and, calling out goodbye, set off at a jog for the beach.  There he saw Tom some distance away on the hard sand at the water's edge, throwing sticks for the dogs, Magda standing by watching.

'Lucas,' she called out as he drew near, 'how athletic!  I had no idea.'

'Not really,' said Lucas, trying not to pant.  'It's just that when in Rome – .'

'I adore your little running-shorts.'

'Thank you,' said Lucas.  'Swimming-shorts, actually.  I thought them rather fetching myself.'  He struck a pose, Mr Universe on a modelling ramp,

'You Mighty Mouse or something?' Tom enquired as he abandoned his play with the dogs and they all started walking along the edge of the sea together, Magda between the two men and the dogs running ahead.

'What kind of dogs are these?' Lucas asked.  'Not one of the more usual breeds, surely?'

'They're hunting dogs,' Tom replied, 'beagle or harrier, mostly.  You'll find a lot of them in the country.  You know anything about dogs?'

'Nothing at all,' said Lucas.  'Are they Jannie's?  Surely not.'

'Good heavens no,' said Magda, 'they belong to the owners of that house.  Who exactly they are, I haven't yet been able to work out.'

'Old friends of Dave's mother and father, according to Jannie,' Tom put in, 'but more on the mother's side, he thinks.'

'The more I discover about David's background,' said Lucas, as they plodded along together, more or less in step,  'the less it all fits.'

'What?' Magda asked.  'What doesn't fit?'

'This suburban villa Jannie's looking after, it couldn’t be more suburban could it, and it doesn't at all fit with sending a boy like David to a school like Bishops.'

'David went to Bishops!' Magda exclaimed,  'how incredible.'

'Why?  D'you think it didn't show?'

'Of course it showed, Lucas, it explains all sorts of things about him.  How do you know he went to Bishops?'

'Because that's where I first came across him.  In my last year at school.  He was allowed to direct their Shakespeare production that year, if you please, and us hoi polloi from Boys High were marched across to go and see it.'

'Who would have paid his fees, do you think,' Magda wondered.  'They're pretty hefty, I'm told.'

'Funny how all these big-shot friends  of Dave’s couldn't do anything for him when he got himself arrested,' said Tom.  'It was all left to us, to Matt and Simon.'

Lucas kicked sand with the ball of his right foot as he walked.  'Does Jannie know any more than we do?'  he asked abruptly.  'Basically the only reason I came out here today is I thought I might be able to get him on one side and pump him a little.'

'You too,' Magda said, unsurprised.

'What about?' Tom enquired.

'What happened to David,' said Lucas impatiently.  'I mean it's beyond belief, what happened to David, the way he just disappeared.  We're told he's dead and buried between one day and the next, nobody's allowed even to –  .  A private funeral, nobody except immediate family – and Jannie of course – we're not even told when or where, everything so damned discreet and seamless, no loose ends anywhere, it almost seems as if there're spin doctors somewhere, doing their stuff, a massive job of white-washing. There is a very distinct smell of fish.  Well, there is to me anyway.'

Magda said: 'I couldn't agree more with every syllable you utter.'

'Shall I tell you something?' Lucas continued.  'I keep thinking he's not dead, David's not dead, I can't believe somehow that David is dead, the whole thing is simply some kind of crazy con.  God knows what exactly, I can't begin to imagine, but I keep getting this feeling David's alive and well and living in –  . Well, I don't know, that's just the point, but what if he's being kept on ice somewhere, or – .  I don't know.  But not dead.'

'What I've noticed,' said Magda carefully, 'these last few weeks, since he was killed, is the press he's been getting.  You never turn on the box but there's David, as large as life and twice as upsetting, holding forth on the theatre.  Every magazine you pick up, there's another piece about David, and it's not only the local scene, it's overseas too.  They're constantly dredging up old bits and pieces he did three years ago and more – .  I mean, take this play on television tonight, it's a case in point –  '

'Well exactly,' said Lucas, 'this is exactly what I'm talking about.  Why is he getting all this exposure, if anything it's over-exposure, people are getting sick of  him.'

'Of course there's nothing like dying to drum up a little publicity for oneself,' Magda put in judiciously.

'But then you have to be alive for it to do any good,' Lucas pointed out.  'No, for some reason David's had more coverage these last few weeks than he ever had in his whole life before.  Why? –  that's what I want to know.  When everything was so hushed up to begin with, why are we now being bombarded with constant reminders of him?  Why is it being allowed at all, when the exact opposite would be more –  '

'Stop this nonsense now,' Tom interrupted angrily, 'both of you.  You are the one as bad as the other, trying to make out things are not what they are.  What are you trying to do?  You want to make out Dave was Jesus Christ or something?  No, man, Lucas, man, Magda, it's enough now.  There's looney bins full of people think they're Jesus Christ in person, and you must stop it, it's making a mockery, it's making Dave out to be like he was mentally deficient or something, not all there, when he was the sanest man I ever met.  He was a good man, and you mustn't try to make out he was –  .'  Tom made an inarticulate little sound deep in this throat and turned away, walking down towards the edge of the sea and standing there, his eyes fixed on the horizon.  The dogs came bounding up to him, expecting he was about to start throwing things once more. 

Magda and Lucas stopped; after a moment, Tom's back resolutely turned to them, they walked on slowly, giving him time to catch up, when he had recovered himself.

Lucas said:  'The point is of course it isn't David who thinks he's Christ.'

'Don't speak as if he isn't dead, Lucas.  He is dead, you know.  You have to accept that.'

'Looneys might think they're Christ.  Other people just think they're looneys.  With David it's the other way around.'

'So?'  Magda looked at the sand at her feet as she plodded on.  'What do you think?'

'What do I think about what?'

'Do you believe what I am starting to believe perhaps?'

'I don't know,' said Lucas.  'What are you starting to believe?'

'I came down here because I'm sick to death of thinking about David, my mind just churning on and on in the same pointless groove, when he's dead, it's finished, that's the end, there isn't any more, that's all there is, and what do I find?'

'I don't know,' Lucas said again.  'What do you find?'

'I find I'm not the only one," said Magda.  'Your mind has obviously been running on exactly the same lines as mine, so you might as well just own up and admit it.'

Lucas smiled faintly to himself without looking at her.  'And what lines would those be if I may ask?'

'Don't tease, Lucas, you know perfectly well I can't put into words what I'm talking about.'

'You mustn't credit me with too feminine an intuition, dear,' he said with a hint of  sarcasm.  'I've told you what I believe, which is simply that David must be still alive somewhere.'

'You don't think that in some weird way I can't explain he is –  .'   She stopped.

'He is what?'

'What Tom said.'  Magda spoke in a low voice, almost inaudibly, the wind in their ears and little wavelets lapping on the sand.

'No, dear, I don't believe that, not for one instant.'

Magda stood still.  'Lucas, you can't think how relieved I am to hear you say that.  Truly.  I have honestly thought I am going mad, it all seemed so –  .  You must admit there has been every reason to believe there was something quite extraordinary about David.'

'Oh yes.  Oh dearie me yes.  Yes indeedy, indeed to goodness yes.  But if you can put your finger on what exactly it is –  .'  He thought for a moment and then left it there.

'I was thinking more just in terms of the –  coincidentals, if you can call them that.'

Tom came up to them again, walking fast and with purpose.  'What happened, happened,' he said.  'Why do you want to read a whole lot of nonsense into it?  It was bad enough as it is, what happened in that gaol.'

'Was it?' said Lucas.  'What did happen, in that gaol?  Do you know?  I  don't.' 

'How can I say what happened in the gaol?  I wasn't there, was I?  I don't know no more than you do.  But one thing I do know.  That Judd, that Dave thought so much of,  I'm sure Judd was mixed up in some very funny business.  You ask me, he was an informer, he was a government secret agent, and that's what got Dave into trouble.  Why d'you think Judd gave him away like that? –  he was busy saving his own skin, that's what master Judd was doing. He knew all right, what he'd been up to,  even if Dave didn't.'

'But then why would he hang himself?'

'You ask me,' Tom said darkly, 'it's a case for human rights abuses.'

'What I'd like to know,' said Lucas, 'is what Judd found out from his buddies that afternoon, what he heard from them that made him go and hang himself –   '

'Please stop, Lucas,' Magda said in the low voice she had used earlier.  'I get gooseflesh just thinking about it, I  daren't let myself think about it, if I did I'd –  .  That most gentle of men, Simon used to get cross with him because he’d never stand up for himself, David being cross-examined, some kind of third degree until –  .  I  just can't –  '

There were tears on her face and Lucas said brusquely:  'Stop it, Magda.  We don't know what happened, we don't even know that he's dead.'

'Don't talk such tripe man, Lucas, Dave is dead, make no mistake  There wouldn't’ve been such a fuss if he wasn't dead.'

'Jannie knows,' said Magda, recovering herself, ' he knows something, or at any rate more than we do, I'm sure of it.  Through David's mother.  You realise he's never once left her side, all these weeks, ever since –  '

'Let's ask him tonight, point-blank,' Lucas suggested.

'Do you think he'd tell us if he does?' asked Magda.  'I doubt it myself.'

'Leave it to me,' Lucas said.  'Jannie is totally without guile, I'll get it out of him.  If  there's anything to get.'

Tom bent down to pick up a piece of kelp from the sand and began to play with the dogs again, whirling the kelp around just out of reach of their leaping bodies and snapping jaws.  Magda and Lucas watched for a while, and then began to walk back along the beach, Magda calling to Tom as they turned.  When the dogs had demolished the kelp by worrying one end of it while Tom held the other, he abandoned it to them in order to catch up with his companions.  They walked slowly back the way they had come, until, just before they started on the path back up to the house, Tom putting the two dogs on leads again, they saw Jannie coming down to meet them.                             

'Don't worry, Tom, leave them,' he called when he was still some distance away.  'I will take them.  Every day when I run I take them, else they start to get fat.  We go four, five kilometres, then we come back.'

'Goodness,' said Magda, 'how energetic you are.  How long will you be?  I could start fixing us some supper,' she offered diffidently, for she was not very domesticated, 'if you'll tell me what there is to fix.'

'No, it is not necessary,' said Jannie.  'I eat in the hotel every night,' he explained.  'David's mother she said I must.  I already told them, tonight I'm having guests.  I'm inviting you all,' he ended, making himself quite clear.

'My dear Jannie, do you mean you're taking us all out to dinner tonight?  How perfectly sweet of you,' Magda said comfortably.  'We shall be delighted.  Won't we?'  She appealed to the other two men.

'Here is the house key,' said Jannie, handing it to Tom.  'We must eat early to be back to watch the TV.  I fixed it all up now, it's all working.'

He set off at a lope along the beach, the dogs running ahead once more.  Lucas decided to take a quick dip in the sea, unless the water were too cold.  Magda and Tom walked on up to the house together.

Sunday supper at Jannie's hotel was served from half-past six and so they were back at the house well before David's television play was due to begin at ten past nine.  As they settled themselves in chairs facing the television set, Lucas was turning over in his mind a remark or two that he hoped would lead naturally on to the subject of David's death.  In the event he had no need, for when Jannie switched on, the continuity girl referred to it in the course of her preview of the evening's viewing: 'This is the final programme in our series made especially for television by the well-known theatrical producer who died in circumstances of such tragic misunderstanding earlier this year.'  Here she flashed a smile that met at the back of her neck.  'But first Rights and Recourses.'                      

All four of the people watching television responded to this announcement, all four speaking at once:

'She tells lies,' Jannie said, using a remote control to render the screen mute, 'it's first the advertisements.'

'What's she got to grin about?' Tom asked, 'what's there to grin about?'     

'Tragic misunderstanding?'  Magda and Lucas spoke in chorus and exchanged a glance that recognised their shared outrage.  Then Magda went on:  'Oh these morons who are paid to mouthe this pap at us, how dare they!  How dare they try to turn David's death into one of their meaningless  cliches!  Tragic misunderstanding my –  '

'But it was,' said Jannie, 'it was misunderstanding. They thought it was Dawid, but all the time it was somebody else.'

'What!'  The single word was like a small explosion of disbelief from Tom, and Lucas said, deceptively mildly: 'You'll have to explain yourself please Jan.'

'It wasn't Dawid they wanted to ask questions, it was another person.  Minister Paul, he said it.  He wouldn't of told a lie to Dawid's mother.'

'On the contrary, she's the first person he'd have lied to.'  Magda spoke with rigid control; she was very angry.

'Who is this somebody else David's supposed to have taken the rap for?' Lucas demanded.

'No, that I can't say, Minister Paul never told her that.  But he didn't tell a lie, he explained it all, how when they ask him questions then they find it's a misunderstanding, and they let him go.'

'They didn't let him go, they just took him where it wasn't so public,' said Tom.

'No that wasn't Correctional Services that took him, it was other people took him.'

'What other people?'

Jannie was beginning to feel bullied by the inquisitorial tone of Lucas's curt questions and he did not reply for a moment.  'People that said he must be tried in a court.'

Magda drew an audible breath.  'A people's court?' she asked, her voice high with shock, 'David was tried by a kangaroo court?  What for?'

'No, not that,' said Jannie, 'a proper court.  His own chief.  The headman, his traditional leader.'

'Jannie,' Lucas asked steadily, 'how did David die?'

For answer, Jannie held his neck just under his chin with both hands.  He did not speak.

'Necklaced?'  Magda whispered, 'David was necklaced?'  She gave a little gulp, gripping the arms of her chair tightly and pushing hard against its back; she turned her head to one side, then got up, and went out of the room, leaving the three men sitting in silence.

'Funny how none of this got into the papers,' Tom remarked after a while.

'Why should it?' said Lucas. 'One more anonymous death in a ghetto where murder and sudden death are –  '  He seemed to choke suddenly. 'Happens all the time,' he went on, clearing his throat, 'places like that.  It wasn’t a massacre after all.  A massacre might've made it to the media. Not just one single death.'

'Even so,' Tom responded.  'Dave was well-known, wasn't he?  He wasn't a nobody.'

'It was hushed up, Tom.  It had to be.'

'No wonder there was no proper funeral,' Tom said after another while.  'Nothing left to put in the coffin.'

'For God's sake, Tom, shut up, shut up!' said Lucas.

'No he was in his coffin, it was a proper funeral.'  Jannie wiped the back of one hand across his eyes, defiantly blinking at the television screen.  'It's going to start now,' he said.

The three men watched the screen in silence.

'What about Magda?' Tom asked.

'I'll go and see,' said Lucas, getting to his feet.

But Magda came back into the room before he reached the door.  She gave him a little half-smile and went to sit in her chair with her hands folded composedly in her lap.  'I don't suppose we shall ever know what happened,' she said, 'not exactly, that is.'

'Would you want to?' Lucas asked harshly.  'However,' he added heavily as he too sat down again, 'I think it may be necessary to make public what we do know.'

'Why?' Magda asked.  'You can't still be thinking he's not dead, Lucas.  Not now.'

Lucas was staring at the television screen and did not reply.

'But it doesn't really matter, I don't suppose,' Magda went on, 'whether one knows or not.  It won't change anything.'

'No,' said Tom.  'I'm very glad to hear you say that, Magda.  Like I said last night, and this afternoon, what happened, happened.  Let it be finished now.'

Titles faded on the screen, and Jannie turned up the sound.  David's little fable about a crooked bywoner on a farm on the edge of the karoo in the early twentieth century was entitled THE UNJUST STEWARD, but none of them was able to give it undivided attention.  When it finished – it lasted not quite half-an-hour –  Jannie offered to make a pot of coffee before they watched the video from America, but the others wanted to see the video first.  Jannie went obediently to set it going, while Magda said: 'I wonder where they dug that up.  I didn't think it was very good, did you?'

'The bywoner was good,' Jannie said from where he was squatting on the floor, 'the way he took his part.'

'But would one have bothered to watch, do you think, it we hadn't known it was David's?'

'It was when Dave was making this film,' said Tom, 'that he first gave me a job.  We all stayed together in the one hotel, in Magaliesburg, the crew too.'

'Really, Tom?' said Magda.  'I didn't see your name on the credits.'

'You didn't look,' Tom pointed out.

'Well you should have said, earlier.'

'I didn't know it was going to be this one.'

Jannie was still fiddling with the VCR on the floor, and Magda stood up to stretch.  'How pointless it all is to be sure,' she said conversationally.

'You talking about life, dear, or just David's play?' Lucas asked, mocking her.

Magda ignored him.  'You slave your guts out for years and years, all your life, and what have you got to show for it in the end?  Feathers,' she said, and made a gesture of finality using both her arms. 

Jannie on the floor echoed the word, a questioning little squawk of incomprehension.

Lucas said: 'But David has quite a lot to show for his, I'd say.  More than most.  Take the piece we've just watched –  .  Well, not a lot, perhaps, but something.'

Magda's silence implied that this something was not enough.  Then she said: 'All I'm trying to say is David was my age, he was my age exactly, and when I think he's never going to –  .  He's dead, David's dead, barely thirty, and he's –  '

'Thirty-three,' Jannie put in.

' –  he's dead.  Bring down the curtain.'  She turned away; she was determined she would not break down and weep again.  'Necklaced,' she said matter-of-factly, and went back to sit in her chair, her hands folded in her lap, as before.  'It all just seems so terribly –  incomplete, not finished, as if he didn't have time even to –  .  I don't really know what I'm trying to say,' she ended.

'Well,' said Lucas, ' the thing about David is he was never woolly-minded, he was never an idealist –  '

'Meaning you think I'm both?'

'No not at all, my dear Magda, I simply mean that with David there was never any question about what could be, or what might have been, it was always only what in fact is.  Even this play tonight, it was the way things are, not the way some half-witted idealist thinks they ought to be.  And you mustn't expect David to finish things off nicely with some banal message tied with a great  big bow, all wrapped up –  '

'I don't in the least expect anything of the kind,' Magda interrupted with some heat.  'When I say not finished, I don't mean his work, I mean his whole life, it seems such a waste.  As if it had been a complete failure, which it wasn't, it wasn't at all a failure.'

'No it wasn't, 'Tom agreed, 'but when you die –  '

'All that hoo-ha and carry-on during the Civic season,' Magda went on, 'completely meaningless, irrelevant –  '

'When you die,' Tom repeated firmly, 'that's what it seems like.  Failure.  It's your last failure.  You fail to live.  But Lucas here doesn't even think he is dead, he thinks he's still alive.'

'Or,' Magda added waspishly, 'that he died and rose again from the dead.'

On the floor beside the television set, Jannie made a little growling noise of incredulity, and Lucas got to his feet with an impatient gesture.  'For Chris' sake,'  he said as he started prowling the room.  'Don't put words into my mouth, will you, both of you.  I said nothing of the kind.  Start the tape, Jannie.'

'But you implied it,' Magda insisted, 'don't try to deny you implied it.'

'Come on, Jannie, let's watch the tape,' Lucas repeated.  'I said I had a feeling, that's all.'

Jannie had been ready to start some time before this, but he was now sitting back on his heels and looking from one speaker to the next, wide-eyed, the video forgotten.  Lucas continued to prowl, straightening pictures, touching objects and re-arranging them slightly, or just staring at pieces of furniture.

'I do think, you know,' he said to Magda, 'you should give this thing of yours a bone now.  You're letting it get to be an obsession.  Just because it all happened on a Good Friday –  '

'It didn't all happen on Good Friday, Lucas, you know that as well as I do,' said Magda.  'Good Friday was –  well,  it was the last straw, it all built up to a climax on that Good Friday, but it was everything that went before too, everything that led up to it –  .'

Tom gave a groan and leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees and rub his eyes with the palms of his hands.  'What I would like to know,' he said, 'is how many times it has to go on happening –  '

'Tom!' Magda exclaimed.  'You too?  What has to go on happening?  You think there's something that may be going on now – ?' 

'No I don't.'  Tom was now staring at the floor.  'But if there is, why isn't once enough?  Tell me that.  So okay, there've been buddhas since before Christ, but why's there got to be more than one, if there's going to be one, that's what I want to know.  If there's a Jesus Christ talking about Yahweh, why must there also be a Mahomet talking about Allah?  Not to mention all those others, incas and such, in South America, places like that, where they also eat their god.  So now where does Dave come in, what did poor old Dave do, that he had to be –  '

Tom did not finish, and Lucas said into a little silence: '"Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it".'

'Condemned,' Jannie echoed, 'who is now condemned, what all are you now saying?' 

Tom leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes.  Magda looked at Lucas but he had his back to her.  Then she said gently:  'Jannie, you can't possibly not have –  .  You must surely have noticed that –  well, suggestions, perhaps, suggestions that David was –  '

'Parallels?' Lucas offered tentatively.

'But it could also be all just imagination,' Tom said decisively.

'You want me now to say Dawid is the Lord Jesus, I know it,' Jannie burst out, 'you want to say it's like the second coming, but you are all just mad, you are all mad, I know how it all was, I know it all, but that, what you want to say, that is –  ohh I don't know what it is, it is godslasterlik  to say that, it is of the devil, it is the devil that puts it into your heart to say that – '

Lucas had turned to look at Jannie as if the younger man had gone suddenly insane, Tom had opened his eyes to gaze at him as if he too thought the boy had lost his wits, and Magda was thinking that if he could tap into feelings like that inside it was no wonder he could act like a dream.  

' –  it is wrong even to think it, what you are now thinking, it is sin.  How can Dawid be the Christ? –  Dawid is no more the Christ than you or me,' Jannie continued with passion.  'Dawid was just – '

'That's a thought,' Lucas said, returning to his chair and looking faintly startled.  'David, you, me, everybody?  We are all Christs?'

'Not me,' Magda pointed out, 'I'm the wrong sex.'

'If  David then why not everybody?  Is that what you're saying, Jannie?'

'Noo!'  Jannie wailed despairingly.  'Stop it now the both of you, stop it, please, you make me feel sick to my stomach.  You must not mock and make jokes too yet, Magda, sex and all.  I'm now going to put on the video, I don't want to hear no more.'

He depressed a key on his machine and pulled himself up from the floor, backwards onto his chair.

The screen flickered with light, and suddenly there was Simon's face in close-up, smiling and saying 'Hi'.  He was out of focus, and then cut rather abruptly; the next shot showed a group of people looking straight into the camera from the stage of a theatre, but it was such a long shot that it was difficult to make out who they were.  The shot was held for some time, without sound, and then the camera zoomed in to focus on individuals in the group one at a time: on Mark, gesturing rudely with two fingers; on Sally, as she dropped a pretty little mock curtsy; on Andrew, following suit next to her with an over-elaborate Elizabethan bow.  Philip and two of the three Jameses were there, sending up the British monarchy with royal waves of extreme graciousness, as well as other members of David's original company and people the four watching the tape did not recognise.  

After Simon's brief 'Hi', nothing more had come through on the sound track, despite Jannie's best efforts.

'Who's the gorilla in the natty suiting?' Tom asked while they waited for sound.  He was referring to a figure standing a little apart from the others and a little behind, so that he was glimpsed again and again as the camera concentrated on people in front of him.

Jannie looked up from fiddling with his connections, aghast at the disrespect of Tom's question.  'That is mos Minister Paul,' he said reprovingly, 'don't you even recognise him?'

'So that's what he looks like,' said Magda.  Then she gave a little gasp as the camera receded from the group on the stage, holding it in long shot once more.

'What’s wrong?' Lucas asked.

'Nothing,' said Magda.  'I thought for a moment there I'd seen – . Oh my God it is, 'she cried, as a bust shot of David sitting in an armchair came up on the screen, 'it is David, what's hap –  ?'   She put a clenched fist to her mouth.

'Don't get your knickers in a twist, dear,' said Lucas, 'it's only a photograph.  It's not David, not really.'

'I'll kill Simon for this, next time I see him I swear I'll kill him,' said Magda, her eyes fixed on the screen where shots of David were now alternating with ones of an interviewer at a podium in what was obviously a different studio.  'What in hell does he think he's doing?'  She held her arms crossed close against her body. 

'Don't you remember this?' asked Lucas.  'It's footage from an old SABC tape.  I was with David when he did that interview, right here as a matter of fact.  Well, not here, obviously, in town.  They've just edited it into another tape, that's all, with an American asking the questions.  God knows why, you can see at once it's faked.'

'Is it Simon's idea of a joke, do you think?'

'Perhaps if we could hear what's going on,' said Tom.  'What's wrong with the audio track?' he demanded of Jannie.  'Didn't you test it this afternoon?'

'No, there's no sound on this tape,' said Jannie, holding down his volume button nevertheless, so that Simon's voice when it came boomed suddenly out into the room as he re-appeared on the screen.  'That was a clip from a local chat show,' he explained, his face in close-up once more.  'We were hoping to get Larry King, or Sir David Frost, over here on a visit, but neither was free.' Simon winked into the camera, slowly and solemnly, grinning as he did so, and Magda made a very unladylike noise of derision at him.  'We thought you'd like to see the kind of publicity we've been getting.  Sorry about the sound but we had a few problems when we made that copy.'

The camera cut rather abruptly once more, this time to outside shots of New York, Simon's voice now making desultory comment on the voice-over track.

'This is all quite appalling,' Magda said.  'What on earth does Simon think he's playing at?' 

The four of them watched the tape to the end.  It included one other interview, this one with the man Jannie called Minister Paul, and several clips of the plays, some of which had been used on American television for publicity purposes, Simon explained, but most of which had been taken with the much more mundane object of monitoring rehearsals.  It finished with a series of personal messages from the ladies and gentlemen of the cast; these excited further derision from both Magda and Lucas.

When the tape had finally run to an end, Tom stretched in his chair and yawned out loud and long.

'I'm going to bed,' he announced as he stood up.  'What time do you have to be back tomorrow, Magda?  I'd like to make an early start, if it's okay with you.'

'That depends on  what exactly you mean by early,' she replied.  'Before dawn?'

'Oh no, not that early,' Tom said, taking her seriously, 'but I want to call on  in the Strand on the way back, if it's okay with you.'

'I shall be ready whenever you say,' said Magda.  'You're the driver.' 

'Or you could drive back with me,' Lucas offered, 'if you like.  I shall probably be leaving sort of mid-afternoon some time.'

Magda was faintly surprised by this offer.  'Afternoon is certainly more my time of day,' she said, 'thank you Lucas.  Would you mind, Tom?'

'Mind?  No, I won't mind, why should I mind?  I'll perhaps leave a bit earlier then, if you're not coming with me.  Well, I'm off,  good-night all.'

'Oh dear,' said Magda when he had gone.  'I do hope I haven't offended him.'

'Tom isn't a man to take offence at nothing,' Lucas assured her.

'I'm glad you are not going so early,' said Jannie, 'we can then go to the beach in the morning.'

'He's such a private person,' Magda said, ignoring this, 'or rather he seems to keep his private life so completely to himself one feels one hardly knows him.'

'Unlike the rest of us,' Lucas agreed, 'who spill our guts as soon as look at us.'

'Lucas, don't be disgusting,' said Magda.  'I don't even know if he's married, do you know that?  I think he must be, but I've never even heard him so much as mention a wife.'

'No he is,' said Jannie, 'I know from Dawid once.  He is married, but his wife is sick.'

'Sick?  How do you mean sick?'

'He must look after her,' Jannie explained.

'That would figure,' said Magda.  'Oh poor Tom.'

'Tom is not a man to pity,' said Lucas, again taking it upon himself to speak for his sex.

'No he's not,' said Magda, 'but still.  He deserves better than an invalid wife.  Oh well.  Me for me downy too, I think.'

She followed Tom shortly afterwards.  Lucas thought it polite to stay talking to Jannie a little longer and then searched the bookshelves for some bed-time reading.  Jannie went last, after letting the dogs out and locking up.

In his bedroom, Lucas undressed and smoked a meditative cigarette without opening the old Rex Stout paperback he had found to read.  He was wondering if he dare go down the passage and tap on Magda's door, and, when he stubbed out his cigarette, he did open his door very quietly and start along the passage.  Only Jannie's light seemed still to be on.  Magda's door was slightly ajar, showing her room to be in darkness, and Lucas stood in the passage outside, listening to her breathing, which was steady and even and not quite audible enough to be called snoring.  Then he went back to his own room.   

Tom left, in fact, before either Magda or Lucas was up.  When they emerged from their bedrooms, Magda some time after Lucas, they found Jannie making elaborate preparations to take a picnic luncheon to the beach.  He had already assembled on the front verandah a large pile of beach gear – an umbrella, uninflated air-mattresses, folding chairs, a folding table – crowning the pile with an enormous wicker picnic-hamper containing complete place settings for about a dozen people.  When his two remaining guests appeared, he was busily provisioning this hamper with delicatessen food he'd been out to buy after bidding Tom farewell, filling its flasks with tea and coffee.  Then he went in search of a cool-bag into which he packed enough cold beer and chilled wine, Magda observed, watching him, to keep the three of them sozzled for about a week.  

By the time they had established this encampment on the beach, however, with everything they could possibly need to laze the day away, including Lucas's detective story, the morning breeze had freshened into what could only be described as a wind, and intermittent cloud was obscuring the sun; by early afternoon, the sky was altogether overcast and the wind not only stronger but also decidedly damp.   Nevertheless, since Jannie had taken preparation to such lengths, they wrapped themselves in the beach towels he had provided and ate and drank huddled behind the umbrella, which they opened as protection against the wind rather than the sun.                          

They packed up directly afterwards.  They were back at the house shortly after two o' clock, and Lucas decided he and Magda might just as well leave for town at once.

'Come again next Sunday,' Jannie invited as he closed the car door on Magda while Lucas belted himself into his seat, 'or when you want to.  I'm going to be here two months still.'

'That's very sweet of you, Jannie,' said Magda, 'but I don't quite know what may be waiting for me when I get back.'

'Perhaps there'll be other people coming,' Jannie said, as if this were an inducement.  'I don't know, I thought more would come yesterday, but perhaps they will come next week.'  

'We'll give you a ring, shall we?' said Lucas diplomatically.  'Thanks again, Jannie.  See you.'

He started the car and Jannie stood back.  Magda leaned forward to wave as they moved off, and then she relaxed in Lucas's passenger seat, which was a good deal less comfortable than the one in the car Tom was driving.

'Poor little brute,' she said, 'I expect he gets lonely.'

'If he chooses to attach himself to an old woman living in the country,' Lucas replied, 'he'll just have to put up with being lonely sometimes.  Quite often, in fact.'

'Yes,' said Magda, 'I suppose so.  I do admire you, you know, Lucas, when you go all clean-cut and decisive like that, it's one of your more attractive traits.'

'Oh really,' said Lucas.  'Well, don't.  Inside I'm just the same sort of amorphous mess we all are, but I can't stand it, so I over-react, and then, I suppose, it might come out clean-cut and lantern-jawed.'

Magda laughed.  'You're not lantern-jawed, Lucas.'

'No, but I'd like to be.'

'Would you?  What for, you'd ruin your looks.'  She gave his profile a quick sidelong glance of professional appraisal, and then said: 'Why didn't he go to New York with Simon, I wonder, Jannie I mean.'

'I suspect basically because Simon isn't David.'
'Yes,' Magda agreed, 'one can understand that.  But he did play that APPLE part so marvellously to the manner born, it does seem a shame.  And I still feel a bit sorry for him, rattling about all alone in the huge bungalow.  He can't have expected to end up looking after other people's dogs when he decided to stay with David's mother.' 

'So what's wrong with alone?' Lucas asked.  'You're alone, I'm alone –  we're all alone.'  His lugubrious tone tried to evoke Greta Garbo, or at least Marlene Dietriech.

'You're also a terribly uncompromising sort of person,' said Magda, 'or is it simply that you don't much like him?'  

'Jannie?  I don't dislike Jannie, what makes you think I don't like him?'

'I suppose because I did, rather a lot, at one time,' said Magda.  'Sometimes, like last night, I can't think why anybody puts up with him for one instant he is really so appallingly thick.'

'He can't be all that thick,' said Lucas, 'when he comes out with the sort of thing he said about David last night.'

'Oh?  What did he say?  All I remember is he put me into such a rage I couldn't speak.  And not once, several times.'

'It was while we were talking about David –   '

'When do we ever talk about anything else?' Magda interrupted gloomily.

' –  he said something about everybody being a kind of Christ – '  

'Jannie didn't say that, you did.'

'Did I really?  How clever of me.’

'On the contrary, it was rather silly.  But very typically male, of course.'


'The way men take it for granted there's really only one sex that counts –  .  Women get very bored with it you know.'

'But for God's sake, Magda, it wasn't sexist, I wasn't trying to –   ' 

'Oh come on, Lucas, it's so ingrained in your thinking you don't even notice.  But women do, I promise you.  All that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost stuff for example – women don’t figure at all, do they?’

'Well possibly not, but you must remember the context, the historical context – ‘

‘Context, schmontext, I wonder what men would say if women went on about God the Mother, God the Holy Virgin, God the Sacred Flux –  '

Lucas gave a single bark of rather startled laughter.

' –  with the Father of God upstaged into the wings somewhere?  And you needn't laugh, Lucas, I happen to be perfectly serious.'

'But that would mean it’s a completely different myth, and you can’t just change myth like that.'

‘Why not?’

‘Because myths have to be true, or else they’re not – .’

‘What in the name of heaven is a true myth?’
‘If they’re not true, they’re no longer myths.'

‘Lucas, I don’t know what you’re talking about, but that's exactly my point.  Men don't think like women – '

'No –  nor women like men either.'

' – they’re forever on about something so completely unrelated to real life – . And another thing I’d like to know.  Are you trying to suggest David wasn't exceptional, were you trying to say there wasn’t anything particularly different about him, that he wasn't an altogether exceptional man?'

'Of course not.'

'Because he was, you know, I don't care what Tom says.  He was unique, in my experience of men at any rate.  He is the only man who never once –  .'  She stopped herself.  It was not a thing she wanted to discuss with Lucas.  'I mean you've only got to look at that tape we watched last night.  What Simon has done to those plays –  or if not Simon who? – I can hardly believe they're the same two we toured.  Well, they aren't of course, they've been thoroughly gone over for New York, I suppose.'

'I must confess I couldn’t quite see what he was trying to do, in the bits he showed us,' said Lucas.

After that they talked shop for some time, until it became clear that they shared a strong dislike for exactly the same things about Simon's direction of the plays, judging by the extracts they had seen of the taped rehearsals.  They were so much in accord that at one stage Magda put out a hand to tuck her fingers into the waistband of his jeans, upon which he put an arm through hers and lifted her hand to his face, biting her fingers gently and then holding her knuckles against his cheek.  Then he held her hand on his thigh, and so they drove on.

'Which way shall we take,' he asked, as they approached a fork in the road leading either to the mountain pass or a detour to avoid it, 'the coast road or carry on up the Khyber?'

'The coast road,' Magda said promptly.  'We're bound to hit fog on the pass this afternoon, and fog makes me nervous.  So don’t go that way please Lucas.'

'Then the coast road it is,' he said, putting on his flickers and beginning to change lanes.

'Perhaps we could stop for tea in the Strand,' she suggested, ‘at that place with the marvellous view.’  

'I don't know which one you mean exactly, but you can no doubt point it out to me when we get there.'

Magda said in their newly established cosiness:  'I'm sorry if I was sounding off there rather, a few minutes ago.  Women’s-libber bitchiness, it’s not me at all really.'

He squeezed the hand on his thigh.   'I know it isn't,' he said.  'You can sometimes be a bit of a cat, but you are never a bitch.'

Magda withdrew her hand.  'Is that supposed to be some sort of compliment?' she enquired coldly.
Lucas felt a little alarmed.  What had he said wrong?  'I’m not trying to pay you compliments – .'  He tried again:  ‘I don’t mean I think you’re – ‘
'How odd there should be so many derogatory terms for women and so few for men.'

'I don’t think that’s true either.’

'Bitch, cat, cow – .  Anyway, I'm not sure I wouldn't rather be a bitch than a cat.'

'No you wouldn't.  A bitch is just thorough-going nasty, whereas a cat when she’s swallowed the cream  purrs away like mad and looks very beautiful.'

'Lucas, do you honestly always just think of women in terms like that?'

'Terms like what?'

'As if we’re – as if we’re not really to be taken seriously, as if we’re just – .   Yes well to men like you, we are here just to breed I suppose.  Anything else would be the prerogative of the male –   '

'What do you mean, men like me?' Lucas interrupted with some heat.  'Really, Magda, you’re being very sexist this afternoon – '

'I don't  think it’s particularly sexist  to object to being called a cat.'

'Nobody called you a cat.'

'Lucas!  You did!'

'I did not. I said you weren’t a bitch, that’s all I said, I didn’t call you a cat'

'But you did, you miserable sod you, don't try to deny it.  I apologised for being a bit bitchy and you said I was a cat.' 

'I didn't, and anyway who're you calling a sod?'

'You, you sod you, you you you,' Magda said triumphantly.

'Do you know what that word means, dear?' 

'Of course I know what it means, what do you think?  It means you're a bugger.'

'In point of actual fact I'm not, but you don't see me having a fit and throwing a tantrum just because you call me one, do you?'

'No, because you know it's true, that's why.'

Lucas sighed.  'It's no more true than that you're a bitch or a cat, but never mind.  Let's talk about something else.' 

'Yes, because you've just lost the argument.'

'Magda, don't be childish, it's infuriating in a grown woman.'


'Yes, childish.  Now do let's for God's sake talk about something else.'

'Very well,' said Magda, shifting in her seat in order to stare straight ahead, 'I won't say another word.  I'm not mad about squabbling with you as if we were some old married couple, which is what we seem to be doing.'                         

Lucas snorted.  'If there's one thing in the world we could not possibly be it's an old married couple.'

'Oh yes of course I forgot.  You prefer buggery, don't you?'

Lucas braked sharply and, as the car screeched to a stop, hit her at the same time, clumsily, taking  the back of his hand to the side of her neck and face.

'Lucas!'  Magda put a hand to her cheek, in amazement rather than hurt.

Abruptly he switched off the engine and got out of the car, going to stand at the side of the road some distance away and staring out over the scrub to the ocean in the middle distance.  After a while he went back to her side of the car and said, without looking at her: 'I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to do that, I don't know what – .  I – I'm sorry,' he repeated.

'That's okay,' Magda said.  She was sitting bolt upright in her seat and inspecting what she could see of her face in the small looking-glass that came with her handbag.  'I'm sorry if what I said upset you.  I wasn't serious, you know, it was just a joke.'

'It wasn't so much what you said –  .'  He stopped, walked round to his side of the car, and got back in.

'Oh?  Then what made you take that unchivalrous not to say rather vicious swipe at me?'

Lucas started the car and allowed the engine to idle.  'Did you know,' he asked, staring straight ahead in his turn, both hands on the steering wheel, 'that among certain members of David's cast you had the reputation of being a bit of a dyke?'       


'A bull dyke of course.  That, or else a ball-breaker.  Not a toe-breaker, like the wife who hoped her husband's balls would drop off and bruise his feet, but a ball-breaker.'

'Lucas, what on earth are you talking about?'

'That's the sort of thing you hear if you listen to gossip, you see.'

He engaged first gear, and the car started to move off.

'Lucas, who said that about me?  Who told you I'm –  '

'It wasn't anyone in particular, I don't think.  Just gossip.'

'I bet you anything you like it was Mark,' Magda said, thinking back, 'and you can guess why, can't you.  He kept saying let's fuck to me, he probably thinks he's a latter-day Dylan Thomas or something, but I told him plainly to fuck off which is not an expression I’m in the habit of using but I thought he’d understand it better than anything else I could have said.' 

'Moral of the story: don't taunt people with what you hear in the way of gossip.'

'I hope you aren’t taunting me with this rather nasty piece of idle gossip.'

'No of course I’m not.  But you were me, earlier.   Weren't you?’

'Was I?  Lucas, I wasn't.'

'Well that's what it sounded like.'

'Lucas.'  Magda weakly said his name with some kind of appeal.  She felt he was giving their exchanges a level of seriousness she herself certainly did not intend and was not sure she wanted.  'My dear, you mustn't take what people say in jest so –  .'

She did not finish and he said nothing, seeming to give all his attention to driving.  When they were travelling once more at a cruising speed somewhat in excess of the speed limit, she felt in her handbag for cigarettes and offered to light one for him. 

'Not now thanks.  I try not to when I'm driving because if I do I chain-smoke.'

'You won’t mind if I do?'

'Of course not.'

Magda opened her window a fraction to let the smoke out, and wind noise was added to the sound of the engine in their ears.

After some miles of this loud silence, she broke it rather hesitantly to say: 'Do you think you’d care to tell me what it was that made you so cross with me?'

'I don't think I was cross, exactly.'

'Well, whatever.'

'It's not important, Magda, let's just forget it.'

'But Lucas I –  .'  She took a last draw on her cigarette and stubbed it out in the ashtray.  Then she wound up her window and folded her hands on her lap before she continued in a very matter-of-fact tone of voice.  'Please don't clam up on me, Lucas, I feel I did something or I said something that hurt you and I feel – well, a bit devastated, I suppose, because I would not hurt you for the world.'

'Magda, really, don't give it another thought, it couldn't matter less.  Truly.  You didn't hurt me.'

She reached down to the floor at her feet for her handbag and found a handkerchief, which she used on the corner of her eyes and then held in her lap.  He was very aware of her movements at the very edge of his vision and tried to ignore her. She turned her head away, to look through the window instead of the windscreen, blinking fast against the tears she felt in her eyes.

'If you must know,' Lucas sounded exasperated, 'I was going to suggest we –  .  I was going to ask you if – .  I was going to offer you a room in my flat, there're two bedrooms.'

'Lucas!'  Magda turned to him in absolute amazement.  'What on earth for?  I mean what a sweet thought, but – .   What for?' she repeated

'At supper last night, when you were going on about your grotty digs to Tom, I thought you might quite like to.'  

'Well of course I'd "quite like to".  For heaven' sake, Lucas, a room in a beach-front flat in Sea Point, who wouldn't?  But I don't quite see why –  .  Do you need someone to share the rent, is that it?'

'The flat is just about paid for, as a matter of fact, though I must admit the levy is getting to be a bit more than –  .'

'Paid for!   Lucas, do you mean to tell me you own that flat?'

'Well, yes.  Didn't you know?  It used to belong to an aunt of mine, she let me take it over when she gave it up.  Well actually she had to, she was beginning to need what they call frail care.  Nothing like the market value, of course, not much more than she'd paid for it, years and years ago, and even then I couldn't really have swung it if David hadn't helped me with the bond.'                   

'Oh God not David again, I can't bear it.  Is there no part of anybody's life he doesn't –  '

'All he did was find someone respectable to stand surety for me.'

'I've often wondered how you manage to afford a flat like that, on what one makes in the theatre.'

'No doubt,' Lucas said stonily, 'you shared the general belief there’s a sugar-daddy somewhere in the background.'

'No, Lucas, I didn’t even know there was any such belief doing the rounds.'  She went on quickly, for a fleeting thought did suggest to her that the belief might well have some foundation in fact.  'But do I take it then you've changed your mind?  The offer's no longer open?'

'Not at all,' he replied.  'We could talk about it, if you like.  I got the impression, earlier, you wouldn't even consider it.'

'But my dear of course I would.  It's just –  .  Well to be brutally frank, Lucas, I don't see why you want to do this, what you'd get out of it.  Wouldn't it, well, cramp your style rather, to have a woman around the place all the time?  I'm no fag hag fairy queen, you know, I couldn't –  '

'Yes, well, that's why I said forget it, so forget it.'

After a moment Magda said in a tone of some hopelessness:  'Lucas you're so touchy this afternoon, I don't know how to talk to you.  I keep saying the wrong thing.'

'Then how about the right thing for a change?' he said savagely.  'When I ask you to come live with me don't start talking about cramping my style.  Say Yes, or No, or This is so sudden, or Why can't we be just good friends, or something –  .'

Magda looked first at his hands, both still holding the steering wheel in a tight grip, and then at his face, rigidly staring straight ahead.  'Lucas, I’m sorry but this is getting – .  Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems you –  .  What you are actually proposing is more than just share your flat it’s – .  Is that what you're really asking?'

'Yes!  For Chris' sake Magda.'  His earlier exasperation was now extreme.

'I'm sorry to making such heavy weather, Lucas, but you see I've never been asked before, it's always sort of just happened, before.'

'Do you think I've ever asked, before?'

‘That night when –  .  When you came to sleep next to me, remember?'   She did not go on.

"Well?  What about that night when as you so delicately put it we slept next to each other?'

She said in a very small voice: 'Nothing happened, did it.  Then or later.'

'Oh for God's sake, Magda, you do want it every which way, don't you?'

Magda pondered this for a moment or two, and then she said, in the same unsure voice:  'Lucas, are you in fact in your own devious way asking me to –  ?  Could it be that you’re – ?  Oh shit are we talking marriage here for Chris' sake?'

'Marriage,' repeated Lucas.  'I think marriage might be pushing it a bit at this stage, don't you, but yes, why not?  If it bloody works, why the hell not?'

'Oh Lucas, off-hand, I can think of about a hundred good reasons,' she said sadly, and added quickly: 'And they all have to do with me, not you, so please don't go off into another huff and start beating me up again.'

For the first time since re-starting the car he took his eyes off the road ahead and glanced at her.  'For instance?'

'Well, for one thing I don't think I could ever promise never to look at another man again.'

'Me neither.'

'Lucas!'  Magda gave a weak little laugh.  'It's okay for you to make jokes about it, is it, but not me.'

He reached for the hand that earlier had rested on his thigh and they tightly entwined their fingers.  After some minutes, Magda said wonderingly: 'Would we have children, do you think?'

'I expect so.  People do, you know.  Unless you'd rather not.  Would you – rather not, I mean.'

'No.  I mean yes.  Oh God, what do I mean?  I mean yes, I would rather like to have a baby.  These last few weeks, since David –  .  I've found myself thinking I want to have a child before I'm too old, I've never thought that in my life before.  Oh Lucas, I wish you'd stop the car, you change my whole life and you calmly carry on driving as if nothing's happening.'

They were by this time driving high above the sea where the road was too narrow for a car to park, but he promised to pull into the first lay-by that offered.  Magda asked: 'What about you, how would you feel about – well, children, would you –  ?'

'I think I would enjoy having a son, very much.'   

'What if he's a daughter?'

'I would love her no less dearly, I think, but is there any reason why she'd have to be an only child?'

'Well when I said I'd quite like to have a baby I wasn't thinking in terms of an entire troupe, like another Trapp Family Singers.'

Just then, the road widened sufficiently to permit of tourists' stopping to enjoy the view, and Lucas drew off the road and switched off the engine.  They sat for a time without moving, watching the sea heaving and swelling against the rocks below and waves breaking further along the shoreline.  Then they looked at each other and exchanged tentative smiles, as if they were strangers.

Magda said: 'It's madness I know but I do, I do want to, do you know that?   I honestly think I want to, rather a lot.'

He put an arm along the back of her seat and drew her to him.  They kissed, their lips closed, but not tightly closed.  

'I feel a bit like it's a first night,' Lucas said shakily.

'Yes,' Magda agreed, perfectly calmly.

'Remember David on first nights?'

'Yes,' said Magda again.  'I used to think he –  .  I thought he did it all just for effect, just for fun, but now I'm not so sure.'

'I am positive he didn’t do this sort of thing in fun, ' said Lucas, as he tried to cross himself while holding her in his arms.

'Which of David's little first-night prayers did you say just then?' she asked, teasing him, but also wondering how seriously he had meant the gesture he had tried to make.

'All of them, dear,' said Lucas.  'All of them.'

They kissed again, their lips no longer closed, and then once more, their free hands roving over each other's body and coming at length to rove no further, there being nowhere further to rove.  Here they were both astonished and delighted to find how much each had roused the other.  After a time of mounting tension, Lucas re-started the car with trembling, sticky fingers, and drove at speed to his flat, where they tore the clothes off each other and became so absorbed in what they were doing, and wanted to go on doing, that Magda quite forgot she was due at the theatre that evening.  She was late for the first time in her life; the stage manager had to hold the curtain until  she was safely in her dressing-room, making-up.                              

Their first child was born nine months later, almost to the minute, and in due course they called his name David.  They asked Tom to stand as one godfather to the baby, and though Tom agreed  readily enough he was taken aback when he heard what they wanted to call their child.  He wondered to himself what exactly they thought they were doing: was Magda now seeing herself as the virgin mother of God?  If so, what about old Lucas –  was he Joseph to her Mary?  He decided these thoughts of his were daft, however, and never said a word about them to anybody, least of all to Lucas or Magda.