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Wednesday 21 September 2016

A Favourite Scene In The General

   It takes place in the Professor’s house when Number 6 decides to prowl about the house after being seen at Madam Professor’s art seminars. The whole house is most elegant, books, paintings, and in one room there are a number of columns with dust sheets thrown over them.
   Number 6 peers out over the garden and art seminar through a pair widow shutters, and is then found by Madam Professor.
    “This is a private room” she tells him.
    “Interesting view from here.”
    “Who are you, a spy?”
    “How long have you been in this place?”
    “I don’t have to answer your questions, kindly leave.”
    “The whole house is most elegant. Books, paintings, and a very beautiful garden.”
    “The Professor and I have certain privileges.”
    “As prisoners or as warders?”
    “We came here voluntarily, we have everything we need, we’re perfectly happy.”
    “Doing what?”
    “My husband is a teacher, he teaches.”
    “Yes indeed, and you are the artist.”
    Number 6 then begins to remove each of the dust sheets in turn, revealing a number of busts, or simple finger exercises as Madam Professor describes them. They are very good, she seems to have  remarkable talent as a sculptress.
   I would have perhaps expected a bust of the current Number 2, seeing how close he is to both the Professor and his wife, but not one of his predecessor from ‘The Chimes of Big Ben.’ However the existence of this bust suggests that the Professor and his wife have been in The Village for a considerable amount of time, certainly for longer than a couple of months. And the arts and crafts exhibition which took place during ‘The Chimes of Big Ben,’ would have been right up Madam Professor’s street. So much so that she produced a bust of that particular Number 2, and entered it in one of the groups for the arts and crafts exhibition. So in both case of Number 2 it’s quite understandable for Madam Professor to be in possession of such two busts, what is not quite so understandable is the fact of the bust of Number 6! Number 6 smirks to himself when he unveils his own bust, for which it seems highly unlikely that Number 6 actually “sat” for the sculptress. More likely the bust was produced from photographs of the subject.
   As for Madam Professor, she is very perceptive if she thinks Number 6 is a spy, because he is a former secret agent, a danger man in fact! She told him that she and her husband came to The Village voluntarily, and because of that she and her husband enjoy certain privileges. Well there seems no need to doubt that, the house and its garden are proof enough of that. She also said she and her husband have everything they need. Well everything except their freedom within the prison! One other thing Madam Professor told Number 6, she said that she and her husband are perfectly happy, the way she says that strongly suggests that they are far from happy. Who would be, given their situation?
   As for those “privileges,” the elegant house, all its contents, along with garden, I expect they went west soon after Madam Professor became a widow. After that she might well have been expected to cut her cloth to suit her new circumstances!

Be seeing you

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