I’m rather busy at the moment writing and reading. Mr S and I have begun the screenplay for ‘Mr R’ and are happily writing away in the summerhouse, watched over by our new neighbours — 2 rams called Sean and Dale. We really enjoy working together and maintain a level of cheerful bickering. I’m also researching for book 2 — which now has a title ‘The Novel in the Viola’. I need to do a little more research and have been reading ‘Brideshead Revisted’ this afternoon in between working on ‘Mr R’. Oh, it’s so wonderful and so sad. I managed to get myself into quite a melancholy mood. Though Mr Waugh really doesn’t like women… so many of his female characters are such despicable harlots.
Working on Mr R and the revisions for ‘The Novel in the Viola’ reminded me of a favourite scene in ‘Mr R’ which didn’t make the cuts. As writers we’re often told to ‘kill our darlings’ and this is a good example of that. It’s a scene which is lovely in itself and shows the moment when Sadie fell in love with Jack. However, it slowed down the pace. Beginnings need to start fast and there was no room for this. I tried to find room later but alas…
It takes place just after Jack has returned from prison after his brief internment.
At first Sadie was overjoyed to have him back, and spent several days fussing and preparing his favourite treats – with a little help from Frieda she even managed to make a sort of mock-chicken soup with real kreplach. She watched him slurp the hot liquid at the kitchen table, bent low over his platter, his glasses misted with steam. She gave a tiny smile – the first time she’d seen Jack, he was spooning soup. Sadie had been fifteen years old with long pig-tails (of which she was very proud) and he was a man of twenty-four with a quick smile and a red bicycle. His parents had died some years before, and people feeling sorry for him (and also hopeful for their single daughters) invited him round for Shabbas. The first thing Sadie noticed about Jack was that he was short – but then so was she and, as she thoughtfully chewed her dumplings, she had wondered what it would be like, to be kissed by a man exactly her height. The second thing she’d noticed was that his eyes were a remarkably bright shade of blue, and that one eye was darker than the other. No one else knew this. It was the kind of information that only mothers or lovers cherished, and his mother was dead. So, this little detail belonged solely to her and somehow, at that moment, Sadie had known that this meant Jack also belonged to her. He did not know it yet, but that did not matter. She’d flicked her pigtails and he’d glanced up to see her gazing at him, and self-consciously wiped a smear of imaginary chicken-schmaltz from his chin.
As the days seeped into weeks and then into months, Sadie grew tired of her husband’s list. Every evening there he was hunched in his chair before the gas fire, the wireless blaring, and Jack scribbling, scribbling in his little book. The only time he faltered, and his pencil drooped was when Mr. Winston Churchill or Mr. John Betjeman came over the airwaves. She couldn’t fathom this obsession to be English while she could feel that other life drifting further away, like steam from a kettle through an open window.