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In Mine Own Heart. Alan Marshall. Kingsley Amis. Helen Simpson. Hendaye and Bayonne are there to remind us that before the dictatorships and police states and witch-hunters of contemporary history, Spain has been imperial in the trade of producing exiles. And the exiles go out over the bridge at Hendaye into France, the country that has tolerated all, and at the windows of the French hotel the new exile stands, looking across the bight of sea at the gloomy belfries of his native country, hears their harsh bells across the water, and hates the France which has given him sanctuary.
He is proud of his hatred, sinks into fatalism, apathy, intrigue, quarrels with all the other exiles, and says with pride: We are the impossible people. Hendaye: the train dies in the customs. One gets a whiff of Spanish impossibility here. A young Spaniard is at the carriage window talking to a friend who is on the platform.
exifugadetet.tk: V.S. Pritchett eBooks (Page 2)
The Spaniard notes this and says what he has to say to his friend. It is a simple matter.
If you go over to see them on Wednesday tell them I have arrived and will come at the end of the week. But if a bossy French gendarme thinks that is how a Spaniard proceeds, he is wrong. The simple idea comes out in this fashion:. Suppose you see them, tell them I am here, but if not, not; you may not actually see them, but talk to them, on the telephone perhaps, or send a message by someone else and if not on Wednesday, well then Tuesday or Monday, if you have the car you could run over and choose your day and say you saw me, you met me on the station, and I said, if you had some means of sending them a message or you saw them, that I might come over, on Friday, say, or Saturday at the end of the week, say Sunday.
Or not. If I come there I come, but if not, we shall see, so that supposing you see them … Two Spaniards can keep up this kind of thing for an hour; one has only to read their newspapers to see they are wrapped in a cocoon of prolixity. The French gendarme repeats that the Spaniard must leave.
The Spaniard on the platform turns his whole body, not merely his head, and looks without rancour at the gendarme. The Spaniard is considering a most difficult notion—the existence of a personality other than his own. He turns back, for he has failed to be aware of anything more than a blur of opposition.
It is not resented. Simply, he is incapable of doing more than one thing at a time.