« In which we display just the slightest hint of restraint | Main | Train kept a-rollin' »

"...their filled bellies and walking legs and chafed thighs on khaki serge..."

Nice passage here from Alan Sillitoe's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, which relates the protagonist Arthur Seaton's annual fifteen-day army stint, which clearly was very light on military rigor and discipline.
Every night he went out with Ambergate to get drunk: on the long walks he plotted private war and revolution, arson and plunder, with Ambergate, bringing to the surface impossible dreams and treating them like jokes. Coming back from the village they forgot everything in the world but their own existence, the now, the this minute of their filled bellies and walking legs and chafed thighs on khaki serge. Arthur's drunken chanting spread out like primeval madness over dark fields and woods, filling the best hours of fifteen days. They passed cottages bolted and barred to them, doors and windows spurning Arthur's made-up songs that rolled and roared along like the explosion of some half-forgotten voice in the world.
The going-to-the-pub discourse ("private war and revolution, arson and plunder") is somewhat out of character for Arthur, who while an angry young man doesn't seem particularly focused in his rage. But the drunken, coming-back-from-the-pub chanting and singing is perfectly appropriate for him.

May 19, 2010 in Books | Permalink

Comments