“We’re in Bicklesbury Road, if that means anything to you. My name is Severn. I’m an architect, and I came here to look at some houses which a client has bought and wants to have turned into flats. By the time I got here the fog was coming down fast, and I was a perfect fool not to go home. I thought I’d just take a quick look round, but when I got in it was really too dark to do anything. I pottered a bit, using a torch and hoping the fog would lift. Then my battery failed, and I came out into this. I’m afraid it’s not too good.”
I'm really enjoying this. There is something about this story so far that somehow makes me think of Brief Encounters or an old Powell and Pressburger film like I Know Where I'm Going.
And the scene-setting with the fog is actually working for me in this. I know, I know, I usually complain about the use of London fog as a plot device, but I like it in this one. (I reserve the right to be contrary!)
Anyway, I also like some of the humorous side of the female main character, Ione Muir, who's twisted her ankle in the fog and is waiting for the man she just met to get his car:
"There is something strange about being alone in an empty house. Ione sat on the second step from the bottom of the stair and did what she could to her face and her hair. She had a pocket-comb in her bag, and a compact, and some cleansing-tissue, but what the face really wanted was hot water and soap, and the fact that there was green slime on her hands didn’t make things any easier. She used all the cleansing-tissue, but the result as viewed in a three-inch mirror by the light which was coming through the transom was discouraging. The smudges under her eyes were because of being lost in the fog and falling down steps, but the general greenish tinge was probably due to the fact that the tissue had merely spread the slime instead of removing it. She combed her hair, and thought she looked like one of the plainer ghosts. She put on her hat, and took it off again. She couldn’t have believed that anything could have made her look worse, but it did. She had rather fancied herself in it, but it was one of those bits of nonsense which depend on everything else being just so—a tilt here, a twist there, and exactly the right hair-do and make-up. Rather snappy when she started out, but now all it did was to make her look like a ghost the worst for drink. She crammed it into the pocket of her coat and sat back to wait for Jim Severn."
There is a blossoming romance there - probably quite sappy - and that is not something I'd usually seek out, but after Titus Andronicus, this will do nicely.
Oh, and yeah, I can't get enough of looking at that cover.