The Midlands, and Leaving Them

The Midlands, and Leaving Them

By Michael Wilding

Price: £8.00

ISBN: 978-1-912524-73-0

Number of pages: 162

Short Stories, English, Paperback, 127x203mm

‘We started a magazine, Ali and I, Ali another dissident who had refused to join the corps. We called it Grendel. A monster defeated by the first English epic hero could not be all bad. It wasn’t utterly clear whether we were on the side of the defeated or the monsters. I suspect that Ali preferred the monsters.’

‘The last time I saw her she asked, “And where have you come from?” “Sydney,” I said. “Oh, really,” she said. “How interesting. I have a nephew in Sydney.” “That’s me,” I said. “I am your nephew.” “Are you?” she said. “Do you know him?”’

‘I suppose I should be thankful, or pleased, or at least have some feeling of satisfaction, that my school sent me on those social-realist cross-country runs. It provided a group of feelings and sense impressions that I might otherwise have managed to avoid. I’m sure it never meant to; never meant, that is, the social-realist aspect, let alone socialist-realist.

‘“O pastoral heart of England,” Quiller-Couch intoned. “The dead centre,” we intoned sardonically.’

‘She turned resolutely away and cracked eggs, and after a silent debate of conscience, left a splintered piece of eggshell in the pan.’

‘The man at the appointments board, just before I left, congratulated me. “Well, well,” he said,” you’re tipped for a first, you edited the university paper, you’ve done very well for an iron-moulder’s son.”’

Cover painting: Benjamin Williams Leader, In the fields, 1863, oil on canvas on wood panel, 70.0 × 105.2 cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Purchased, 1873 (Photo: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne).