Their conversation ceased abruptly with the entry of an oddly-shaped man whose body resembled a certain vegetable. He was a thickset fellow with calloused and jaundiced skin and a patch of brown hair, a frizzy upheaval. We will call him Bell Pepper. Bell Pepper sidled up beside The Drippy Man and looked at the grilled cheese in his hand. The Drippy Man, a bit uncomfortable at the heaviness of the gaze, politely apologized and asked Bell Pepper if he would like one. Why is one of your legs fatter than the other? Asked Bell Pepper. The Drippy Man realized Bell Pepper was not looking at his sandwich but towards the inconsistency of his leg sizes. You always get your kicks pointing out defects? Retorted The Drippy Man. Just curious. Never seen anything like it before. I was raised not to feel shame and hide my legs in baggy pants. So you flaunt your deformity by wearing short shorts? Like you flaunt your pockmarks by not wearing a mask? Bell Pepper backed away, kicking wide the screen door, making an exit to a porch over hanging a dune of sand that curved into a jagged upward jab of rock. He is quite sensitive, commented The Dry Advisor. Who is he? A fellow who once manipulated the money in your wallet but now curses the fellow who does.
England is not the jewelled isle of Shakespeare's much-quoted message, nor is it the inferno depicted by Dr Goebbels. More than either it resembles a family, a rather stuffy Victorian family, with not many black sheep in it but with all its cupboards bursting with skeletons. It has rich relations who have to be kow-towed to and poor relations who are horribly sat upon, and there is a deep conspiracy of silence about the source of the family income. It is a family in which the young are generally thwarted and most of the power is in the hands of irresponsible uncles and bedridden aunts. Still, it is a family. It has its private language and its common memories, and at the approach of an enemy it closes its ranks. A family with the wrong members in control - that, perhaps is as near as one can come to describing England in a phrase.