(February 16th-22nd)

Format: Triple

…They clawed, they slapped, they fled, leaving behind them a trophy of banners and brasses crudely arranged round the big drum. Then that end of the street also shut its windows, and the village, stripped of life, lay round me like a reef at low tide…

This is from ‘The Vortex’ in ‘A Diversity of Creatures’. Four boxes of bees have been dropped in the street in a crowded country village on a hot summer afternoon. They swarm into the air, stinging everyone in their path.


This is from “The Woman in his Life” in Limits and Renewals.

John Marden, a young engineer, who had served on the Western front in the Great War, is haunted by the terrors he had faced there while mining underground. Now back in civilian life, he has had to crawl, terrified, up a fox’s hole to rescue his much loved little dog. When he gets out he is near collapse, but he had faced his fears and conquered them.

‘He said there was blood on everything that he ate. He said he’d been guilty of the murder of a certain number of men because he hadn’t operated on ’em properly. He had their names down in a pocket-book. He said he might have saved ’em if he hadn’t knocked off for a cigarette or a doss. He said he had kept himself going on rum sometimes, and was woozy when the pinch came; and he hadn’t waked up and carried on …”


This is from “The Tender Achilles” in Limits and Renewals.

A young surgeon at a London hospital is suffering from a nervous breakdown and an injured foot after wartime service in France. The hospital chiefs persuade him that his foot seriously needs attention, show him evidence that it is tuberculous, which he accepts against his better judgement, and he is operated on. The arguments with the senior doctors, in which his judgement is vindicated, restore his faith in himself, and he recovers his balance.

They remember, too, that for many years voices gave orders which they obeyed with their bodies, but their minds were abroad on all the seas. It seems to them that they stood through days and nights slowly sliding a bar backwards and forwards through a white glow that was part of the ship. They remember an intolerable noise in their burning heads from the walls of the stoke-hole, and they remember being savagely beaten by men whose eyes seemed asleep.


This is from “The Devil and the Deep Sea” in The Day’s Work.

A small steamer, in East Indian waters, on an illicit pearling mission, has had its engines wrecked by a shell from the local navy. Here the crew are trying, with no dockyard equipment, to repair the engines so as to take the ship back to sea, for vengeance.