Forty-Five Year Old – George Bowling

 

 

I was trying to shave with a bluntish razor-blade while the water ran into the bath. My face looked back at me out of the mirror, and underneath, in a tumbler of water on the little shelf over the washbasin, the teeth that belonged in the face. It was the temporary set that Warner, my dentist, had given me to wear while the new ones were being made. I haven’t such a bad face, really. It’s one of those bricky-red faces that go with butter-coloured hair and pale blue eyes. I’ve never gone grey or bald, thank God, and when I put my teeth in I probably don’t look my age, which is forty-five.

Making a mental note to buy new razor-blades, I got into the bath and started soaping. I soaped my arms (I’ve got those kind of pudgy arms that are freckled up to the elbow) and then took the back-brush and soaped my shoulder-blades which in the ordinary way I can’t reach. It’s a nuisance, but there are several parts of my body that I can’t reach nowadays. The truth is that I’m inclined to be a little bit on the fat side. I don’t mean that I’m like something in a sideshow at a fair. My weight isn’t much over fourteen stone, and last time I measured around my waist it was either forty-eight or forty-nine, I forget which. And I’m not what they call ‘disgustingly’ fat, I haven’t got one of those bellies that sag half-way down to the knees. It’s merely that I’m a little bit broad in the beam, with a tendency to be barrel-shaped. Do you know the active, hearty kind of fat man, the athletic bouncing type that’s nicknamed Fatty or Tubby and is always the life and soul of the party? I’m that type. ‘Fatty’ they mostly called me. Fatty Bowling. George Bowling is my real name.

 George Orwell, Coming Up For Air

Published in: 45 Years Old | on December 31st, 2010 | No Comments »

Twenty-Six Year Old – Julia

 

Julia was twenty-six years old. She lived in a hostel with thirty other girls (‘Always in the stink of women! How I hate women!’ she said parenthetically), and she worked, as he had guessed, on the novel-writing machines in the Fiction Department. She enjoyed her work, which consisted chiefly in running and servicing a powerful but tricky electric motor. She was ‘not clever’ but was fond of using her hands and felt at home with machinery. She could describe the whole process of composing a novel, from the general directive issued by the planning committee down to the final touching-up by the Rewrite Squad. But she was not interested in the final product. She ‘didn’t much care for reading,’ she said. Books were just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.

She had no memories of anything before the early sixties and the only person she had ever known who talked frequently of the days before the Revolution was a grandfather who had disappeared when she was eight. At school she had been captain of the hockey team and had won the gymnastics trophy two years running. She had been a troop-leader in the Spies and a branch secretary in the Youth League before joining the Junior Anti-Sex League. She had always borne an excellent character. She had even (an infallible mark of good reputation) been picked out to work in Pornosec, the sub-section of the Fiction Department which turned out cheap pornography for distribution among the proles. It was nicknamed Muck House by the people who worked in it, she remarked. There she had remained for a year, helping to produce booklets in sealed packets with titles like ‘Spanking Stories’ or ‘One Night in a Girls’ School’, to be bought furtively by proletarian youths who were under the impression that they were buying something illegal.

‘What are these books like?’ said Winston curiously.

‘Oh, ghastly rubbish. They’re boring, really. They only have six plots, but they swap them round a bit. Of course I was only on the kaleidoscopes. I was never in the Rewrite Squad. I’m not literary, dear — not even enough for that.’

He learned with astonishment that all the workers in Pornosec, except the heads of the departments, were girls. The theory was that men, whose sex instincts were less controllable than those of women, were in greater danger of being corrupted by the filth they handled.

‘They don’t even like having married women there,’ she added. Girls are always supposed to be so pure. Here’s one who isn’t, anyway’

George Orwell, 1984

Published in: 26 Years Old | on February 28th, 2010 | No Comments »