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This article is taken from PN Review 23, Volume 8 Number 3, January - February 1982.

The Dunkirk Summer David Wright

The end of 1942 found me holding down a non-job at a former boot-factory in the Gray's Inn Road. Then known as Kemsley House, it had been converted to accommodate the printing-plant and editorial offices of the Sunday Times. This blank red-brick block interrupted grey swathes of late-Victorian terraced houses hedging a thoroughfare down which doubledecker electric trolleys bound for Holborn or Highgate jangled sooty antennae. Even now one of my recurring nightmares finds me back in that building, drawing a weekly paypacket for a load on my conscience. Seven pound notes folded in a buff envelope, less PAYE and one thing and another: in return for which I sit in a windowless oubliette somewhere in the centre of the ex-boot-factory, solitary in front of a typewriter, a typewriter that is my downfall, engaged in a task as nominal, if less educationally rewarding than, Mr Jabez Wilson's of the Red-Headed League; who, you may recall, drew four gold sovereigns a week for copying out in longhand the whole of Encyclopedia Brittanica, while his employers burrowed their way into the strongroom of the City and Suburban Bank. As for me, my job was -

******

Earlier that year I had come down from Oxford with a second-class honours degree in English to the village of Broadway in Worcestershire. My mother and her sister occupied the half of a house adjacent to the garage that overlooked the village green, where stood a Cotswold-style stone cross, memorial to ...


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