04 September 2007

* * * * THE READING ROOM * * * *

At the end of the newsroom now, Lennox Mark was still speechifying about Taylor, the decent but essentially unintelligent editor who was being fired. The ritual of the insulting speech, delivered to the victim before a drunken baying audience, had something of the feeling of a public execution. Sinclo hated bullying. In the army he had always moved in to stop it, actually getting one sadistic corporal court-martialled when he found out what he'd done to his men. Lennox Mark seemed worse than the corporal. Sinclo had to go back to school (Radley) to summon up comparable examples of oikish thuggery. He wanted very much to go up to Mark now and punch his face, as he had once punched a Radley boy who was picking on a younger child.

"Not that Tony could ever be accused of being a dedicated follower of fashion."

Laughter from the sycophants.

The present occasion was making sharply clear in Sinclo's mind impressions which had hitherto been only latent. The mist was clearing and the grotesque edifice was revealed, its gargoyles and resident monsters in all their Grimm Brothers monstrosity. The smoke coming from the nostrils of Peg Montgomery could have been from a dragon's nose. Aubrey Bird (the diarist 'Dr. Arbuthnot'), one of the last men in London to affect royal-blue shirts with white collars, was certainly an evil old fairy. L.P. Watson, whose travel books had so impressed Sinclo, was perhaps one of those knights errant caught in the tangles of a briarwood for a hundred years -- or was he simply in a snare of his own cynicism? And now, entering ostentatiously late, tiptoeing as through a minefield, with such exaggerated movements of her long, thin, pointed shoes (hand-made in Paris) was the Enchantress herself, Mary Much, her silver-blonde bob, and her long, cool, beautiful face gazing mischievously around, casting spells as she strode.

As Lennox spoke, The Daily Legion was exposed to Sinclo in all its brutality and power. And it was the power, expressed through money, of the tycoon which made sycophants of them all: including Sinclo himself. He was fully aware of that, having, on the strength of his Legion salary, taken out a mortgage on a flat he could only just afford. There did not have to be any rules, telling you things which must not be done or said. There was a perpetual atmosphere of fear, generated by Lennox and his wife, by Mary Much and by the editors ...

-- A.N. Wilson, "My Name is Legion" (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005).

* * * The above reviewed from the "inside" by Victor Sebestyen -- here.

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