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This report is taken from PN Review 185, Volume 35 Number 3, January - February 2009.

The Road to Iken Cliff Neil Powell

During the 1970s, while teaching for a living, I used to rent a cottage in Aldeburgh for a week or two, most years, usually at Easter: a good writing time, I thought, before the crush of summer visitors clogged up the place. The letting agent was an elderly avuncular gentleman called Dudley O. Knowles, whose office resembled an old-fashioned schoolmaster's study: facing him across his huge, pleasantly cluttered desk, you wouldn't have been at all surprised to notice silver trophies on the mantelpiece or framed house photographs on the wall. He issued comprehensive instructions to his tenants, printed in a spirit duplicator's alcoholic purple or the faltering grey-on-beige of an early photo-copier; they were wonkily typewritten with jumpy caps and much underlining. But these forms of emphasis were perhaps less effective than he'd have wished: 'TENANTS ARE URGED TO READ THESE NOTES CAREFULLY - i.e.both this and next page. It is obvious many do not, which is shown by the questions they ask the Agent.' Above all, you were to arrive no earlier than 2.00 p.m. on the appointed Saturday and to vacate the premises by 10.00 a.m. a week or fortnight later, so that a nameless and invisible cleaner or quite possibly Mr Knowles himself ('Remember Agent is a one man business and cannot be everywhere at one time') could make sure they were in a fit state for their next occupant. Because I couldn't bear to reach Aldeburgh a moment later than I had to - ...

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