Absolute beginners


So I went out of the Dubious to catch the summer evening breeze. The night was glorious, out there. The air was sweet as a cool bath, the stars were peeping nosily beyond the neons, and the citizens of the Queendom, in their jeans and separates, were floating down the Shaftesbury avenue canals, like gondolas. Everyone had loot to spend, everyone a bath with verbena salts behind them, and nobody had broken hearts, because they were all ripe for the easy summer evening. The rubberplants in the espressos had been dusted, and the smooth white lights of the new-style Chinese restaurants – not the old Mah Jongg categories, but the latest thing with broad glass fronts, and dacron curtainings, and a beige carpet over the interiors – were shining a dazzle, like some monster telly screens. Even those horrible old anglo-saxon public-houses – all potato crisps and flat, stale ale, and puddles on the counter bar, and spittle – looked quite alluring, provided you didn’t push those two-ton doors that pinch your arse, and wander in. In fact, the capital was a night-horse dream. And I thought, ‘My lord, one thing is certain, and that’s that they’ll make musicals one day about the glamour-studded 1950s.’ And I thought, my heaven, one thing is certain too, I’m miserable.

MacInnes, C. (1959). Absolute beginners. London: Allison & Busby.


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