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This article is taken from PN Review 19, Volume 7 Number 5, May - June 1981.

The Last Bad Thing That A Good Reporter Should Heed Edward Upward

I WAS standing at a window in a sea-side boarding house. I had written an article entitled 'The Last Good Thing That A Bad Reporter Should Heed'; and it had been published in a Victorian book with brown cloth covers, which was now lying on a table beside me. Events began to happen as if to illustrate this title. Something was falling out of the sky. At first I thought it was a huge aeroplane, but then I saw it was a section of a house with men standing on all the floors of its exposed interior. It fell slowly into the sea. I ran down to the shore, where I found a man whom I took to be a 'savage' and whose naked body was quite transparent like flexible glass. He was aiming a rifle at the man on the floors of the house, which was beginning to sink in the sea. I tried unsuccessfully to wrest the rifle from him. I did succeed in preventing him from firing it, but at the same time I guiltily felt that my prior duty was to save the men from drowning. This seemed to explain the title of my article.

Why did I think of him as a savage? I may for a moment have hoped to believe that he was an aboriginal anti-imperialist and that there was no need for me to do anything to help his enemies who were the occupants of the falling mansion. Yet ...


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