"Was anyone hurt?"
"No one I am thankful to say," said Mrs Beaver, "except two housemaids who lost their heads and jumped through a glass roof into the paved court. They were in no danger. The fire never reached the bedrooms I am afraid. Still, they are bound to need doing up, everything black with smoke and drenched in water and luckily they had that old-fashioned sort of extinguisher that ruins everything. One really cannot complain. The chief rooms were completely gutted and everything was insured. Sylvia Newport knows the people. I must get on to them this morning before that ghoul Mrs Shutter snaps them up."
The 1930s: that 'low, dishonest decade', in the words of W H Auden. Tony Last is a mild-mannered feudal landowner sentimentally tied to his hideous Gothic home. Brenda Last is his bored young wife, restlessly swept into the modern metropolitan culture of conversation by telephone, small service flats and Economics evening classes. A world where nobody accepts responsibility and nobody takes the blame, it's a world beyond any individual's control or understanding.
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