“Nor had I any illusions about Algernon Charles Swinburne, who often used to stop my perambulator when he met it on Nurses’ Walk, at the edge of Wimbledon Common, and pat me on the head and kiss me: he was an inveterate pram-stopper and patter and kisser.”
“About this business of being a gentleman: I paid so heavily for the fourteen years of my gentleman’s education that I feel entitled, now and then, to get some sort of return.”
“Cuinchy bred rats. They came up from the canal, fed on the plentiful corpses, and multiplied exceedingly. While I stayed here with the Welsh, a new officer joined the company... When he turned in that night, he heard a scuffling, shone his torch on the bed, and found two rats on his blanket tussling for the possession of a severed hand.”
“Swinburne, by the way, when a very young man, had gone to Walter Savage Landor, then a very old man, and been given the poet’s blessing he asked for; and Landor when a child had been patted on the head by Dr Samuel Johnson; and Johnson when a child had been taken to London to be touched by Queen Anne for scrofula, the King’s evil; and Queen Anne when a child...”
“This is a story of what I was, not what I am.”
“England looked strange to us returned soldiers. We could not understand the war-madness that ran wild everywhere, looking for a pseudo-military outlet. The civilians talked a foreign language. I found serious conversation with my parents all but impossible.”
“...but [I] had sworn on the very day of my demobilization never to be under anyone’s orders for the rest of my life. Somehow I must live by writing.”
“But human anatomy and human endurance are variable. While the much younger nun had succumbed to her injuries, Ursula's heart kept beating, her body unwilling to surrender its soul. Not a miracle, merely one of those quirks of fate, like the child who survives a fall from a sixth-floor window, and is only scratched.”
“He was afraid of touching his own wrist. He never attempted to sleep on his left side, even in those dismal hours of the night when the insomniac longs for a third side after trying the two he has.”
“You're my closest friend and you're thousands of miles away.”
“Taking Mike home is a great idea," Donny said. "See you tomorrow. Thanks for your help."
Gabe kissed her hand. "I'll be back in an hour, honey."
She snatched her hand away. "No need, sweetheart. We're all fine here. See you tomorrow at school. We'll lock up when we leave."
"Sixty minutes, sugarplum." He leaned in for a kiss.
"Get you pleather-wearing, long-haired paws off me--"
Gabe kissed her soundly, cutting off her protest.”
“He was not the nostalgic type. You live life today, not tomorrow, certainly not yesterday, he always said.”
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