CricLit – Tom Maynard, 198-4

An except from “Tom Maynard, 198-4”, the latest blockbuster novel from the respected author George F’Orwell. We pick up the tale in Part Three, Chapter Four and Maynard is in a spot of bother…

Paul Russell Is Watching You

Yes. He absolutely is.

The pencil felt thick and awkward in his fingers. He began to write down the thoughts that came into his head. He wrote first in large clumsy capitals:

TWENTY20 IS SLAVERY

Then almost without a pause he wrote beneath it:

TWO AND TWO ARE BYES

But then there came a sort of check. His mind, as though shying away from something, seemed unable to concentrate. He knew that he knew what came next, but for the moment he could not recall it. When he did recall it, it was only by consciously reasoning out what it must be: it did not come of its own accord. He wrote:

CROFT IS POWER

He accepted everything. The past was alterable. The past never had been altered.  Dad, Walker, and Dalrymple were guilty of the crimes they were charged with. He had never seen the scorecard that disproved their guilt. It had never existed, he had invented it. He remembered remembering contrary things, but those were wrong referrals, products of self-deception. How easy it all was! Only surrender, and everything else followed. It was like playing across the line that pinned you back into the crease however hard you struggled, and then suddenly deciding to turn round and go with the spin instead of defending it.

Anything could be true. The so-called laws of Criced were nonsense. The law of gravity was nonsense. ‘If I wished,’ A’Hamer had said, ‘I could float off this floor like a Mitchell Johnson bouncer.’ Maynard worked it out. ‘If he thinks he floats off the floor, and if I simultaneously think I see him do it, then the thing happens.’ Suddenly, like a lump of submerged wreckage breaking the surface of Taff, the thought burst into his mind: ‘It doesn’t really happen. We imagine it. It is hallucination.’ He pushed the thought under instantly. The fallacy was obvious. It presupposed that somewhere or other, outside oneself, there was a ‘real’ world where ‘real’ things happened. But how could there be such a world? What knowledge have we of anything, save through our own minds? All happenings are in the mind. Whatever happens in all minds, truly happens.

He had no difficulty in disposing of the fallacy, and he was in no danger of succumbing to it. He realised, nevertheless, that it ought never to have occurred to him. The mind should develop a blind spot whenever an uppish drive presented itself. The process should be automatic, instinctive. Divingstop, they called it in Slogsweep.

He set to work to exercise himself in Divingstop. He presented himself with propositions — ‘the Party says the earth is flat’, ‘the Party says that ice is heavier than water’ — and trained himself in not seeing or not understanding the arguments that contradicted them. It was not easy. It needed great powers of reasoning and improvisation. The arithmetical problems raised, for instance, by such a statement as ‘two and two make byes’ were beyond his intellectual grasp. It needed also a sort of athleticism of mind, an ability to make the most delicate use of slow wickets and the Duckworth Lewis Method. Stupidity was as necessary as intelligence, and as difficult to attain.

All the while, with one part of his mind, he wondered how soon they would shoot him. ‘Everything depends on yourself,’ A’Hamer had said; but he knew that there was no conscious act by which he could bring it nearer. It might be ten minutes hence, or ten years. They might keep him for years at Sophia Gardens, they might send him to club cricket in Aberdare, they might release him for a while, as they sometimes did – on loan, to Gloucestershire. It was perfectly possible that before he was shot the whole drama would be enacted all over again. The one certain thing was that death never came at an expected moment. The tradition — the unspoken tradition: somehow you knew it, though you never heard it said — was that they caught you from behind; without warning, as you played down the corridor of uncertainty.

One day — but ‘one day’ was not the right expression; just as probably it was in the middle of the night: once — he fell into a strange, blissful reverie. He was wafting down that corridor, waiting for the yorker. He knew that it was coming in another moment. Everything was settled, smoothed out, reconciled. There were no more doubts, no more arguments, no more pain, no more fear. His body was healthy and strong. He walked easily, with a joy of movement and with a feeling of walking in sunlight. He was not any longer in the Morgannwg of Love, he was in the enormous sunlit passage, a kilometre wide, down which he had seemed to walk in the delirium induced by drugs. He was in the Golden Country, following the foot-track across the old freshly-drenched outfield. He could feel the short springy turf under his feet and the gentle sunshine on his face. At the edge of the ground were the elm trees, faintly stirring, and somewhere beyond that was the Taff where the dace lay in the green pools under the willows.

Suddenly he started up with a shock of horror. The sweat broke out on his backbone. He had heard himself cry aloud:

‘Gwalia! Gwalia! Gwalia, my love! Gwalia!’

He lay back on the bed and tried to compose himself. What had he done? How many years had he added to his servitude by that moment of weakness?

In another moment he would hear the tramp of boots outside. They could not let such an outburst go unpunished. They would know now, if they had not known before, that he was breaking the agreement he had made with them. He obeyed the Party, but he still hated the Party. In the old days he had hidden a heretical mind beneath an appearance of conformity. Now he had retreated a step further: in the mind he had surrendered, but he had hoped to keep the inner heart inviolate. He knew that he was in the wrong, but he preferred to be in the wrong. They would understand that — A’Hamer would understand it. It was all confessed in that single foolish wide.

He would have to start all over again. It might take years. He ran a hand over his face, trying to familiarize himself with the new shape. There were deep cracks in the pitch, the rough felt sharp, the grass flattened. Besides, since last seeing himself in the glass he had been given a complete new set of bats. It was not easy to preserve accuracy when you did not know how the ball was swinging. In any case, mere control of the features was not enough. For the first time he perceived that if the bowler wanted to keep a secret, he would hide it from you. From now onwards he must not only think right; he must feel right, dream right. And all the while he must keep his slogging locked up inside him like matter which was part of himself and yet unconnected with the rest of him, a kind of cyst.

One day they would decide to snare him. You could not tell when it would happen, but a few seconds beforehand it should be possible to guess. It was always caught behind, without warning, as you played down the corridor of uncertainty. Ten seconds would be enough. In that time the world inside him could turn over. And then suddenly, without a word uttered, without a check in his step, without the changing of a line in his face — suddenly the camouflage would be down and bang! would go the batteries of his hatred. Hatred would fill him like an enormous roaring flame. And almost in the same instant bang! would go the bouncer, too late, or too early. It would have smashed his stumps to pieces before he could defend it. The heretical thought would be unpunished, unrepented, out of their reach for ever. They would have blown a hole in their own perfection. To walk hating them, that was freedom.

He shut his eyes. It was more difficult than accepting an intellectual discipline. It was a question of degrading himself, mutilating himself. He had got to plunge into the filthiest of filth. What was the most horrible, sickening thing of all? He thought of Paul Russell . The enormous face (because of constantly seeing it on posters he always thought of it as being a metre wide), with its heavy black moustache and the eyes that followed you to and fro, seemed to float into his mind of its own accord. What were his true feelings towards Paul Russell?

There was a heavy tramp of boots in the passage. The steel door swung open with a clang. A’Hamer walked into the cell. Behind him were the waxen-faced officer and the white-uniformed guards.

‘Get up,’ said A’Hamer. ‘Come here.’

Maynard stood opposite him. A’Hamer took Maynard’s shoulders between his strong hands and looked at him closely.

‘You have had thoughts of deceiving me,’ he said. ‘That was stupid. Stand up straighter. Look me in the face.’

He paused, and went on in a gentler tone:

‘You are improving. Intellectually there is very little wrong with you. It is only emotionally that you have failed to make progress. Tell me, Maynard — and remember, no lies: you know that I am always able to detect a lie — tell me, what are your true feelings towards Paul Russell?’

‘I hate him.’

‘You hate him. Good. Then the time has come for you to take the last step. You must love Paul Russell. It is not enough to obey him: you must love him.’

He released Maynard with a little push towards the guards.

[tweetmeme source=”petehayman” only_single=false]’Room 10100W,’ he said.

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