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Married to Helen, but tangled up with Binny, Edward understands, with a tender pang, how Binny has been denied those small intimacles that a wife takes for granted. Choosing a brithday present for his sister, for example, or washing his socks. Tonight, as a treat for Binny, the lovers are throwing their first dinner party. So long as no one else drops in unexpectedly, it should be a night to remember.
Her black boots, stained by the rain, threshed among the cushions. Keening softly and scrabbling to get into a more comfortable position, she dozed off. Edward came into the room. Seeing Alma, he hoisted his braces on to his shoulders and asked in a pained voice, ‘Didn’t you tell her we were coming?’ ‘She had a row with her husband,’ said Binny. ‘It wasn’t my fault.’ ‘She’s too vulnerable,’ observed Muriel, hovering anxiously about the sofa. ‘It’s in her face. She’s like a child dressed up for
split, the shade pitched wildly; shadows went bouncing up and down the floor. Edward, seeing the man’s arm rise, ducked instinctively. For one solitary moment he clung to the illusion that the pandemonium about him was an elaborate and outrageous joke, perpetrated by Binny to annoy him. Scuttling under the table, he crouched on all fours, watching the man’s feet prance upon the carpet. The third man, having flung his woman victim to the floor, leapt with bent knees on to her chest. She grunted.
to God the Simpsons weren’t coming to dinner tonight. I wish we were on our own.’ In order to ensure a peaceful evening without undue excitement, for the first time in all the years he had known her the children were spending the night elsewhere. ‘I’m not calling it dinner,’ said Binny ominously. ‘Oh, aren’t you?’ he said. ‘No, I’m bloody well not.’ ‘Well, what are you calling it?’ he asked uneasily. Evidently she was worried about the food she was preparing. She had telephoned, most likely,
of unity. You upstairs, Binny in the bathroom, the rest of us scattered elsewhere, bound and gagged.’ ‘Do stop it,’ protested Edward. ‘Can’t you see you’re alarming the girls?’ ‘What sort of diversion?’ asked Alma with interest. She was thinking of a film she’d seen in which prisoners of war gave a concert party while under the stage a tunnel was being dug. ‘There’s a back door,’ Binny said helpfully. ‘It leads into the garden.’ ‘It’s quite impossible,’ cried Edward. ‘There’s broken glass on
does she seem?’ asked Binny. ‘She’s very butch, pet. She’s got hair on her knuckles.’ Alma looked at the disordered room. ‘Isn’t it funny, not having to do anything? We’re not expected to clear this up, there’s no meals to prepare, no beds to make. It’s hardly likely we’ll be asked to go shopping. People pay good money for this sort of life at holiday camps.’ ‘I hate mess,’ said Binny. ‘It makes me sick.’ ‘The children must feel like this all the time,’ Alma remarked. ‘Never expected to do