Cream in My Coffee
Grand Hotel, seaside. Two women, young and old, two men, the same.
What they were they are, there’s no getting round it.
He went home to mother because of father (“buried him,” says Lucy Ricardo, “had to, dead you know”). She stayed, got drunk and slept with the band singer.
Just one of those things, married many years, him ailing, her despairing.
Mr & Mrs Edgehill
A couple of overgrown London kids raising pineapples in the South Seas and making a hash of it till he is appointed British Resident on Cowrie Island and she reluctantly agrees, nothing ahead of the Japs but Wake Island.
Millar’s masterpiece, from NoŽl Coward.
A Murder of Quality
After the war, placed on sabbatical, George Smiley is enlisted by a colleague to look into a village ruckus.
The old ponce headmaster there and a Baptist bitch of a faculty wife are at odds, fatally.
Smiley is very reserved, very distant, even with a cover story, but hashes it up quickly over a drink at a pub with the colleague.
The dreary dramatics are what you would expect, Schubert comes as a relief, taken up where Smiley left off to start with (juggling two old volumes and a glass of something in his digs).
A War of Nerves
A shipyard running an employment scheme out of Dead Souls is visited after an air raid by a UXB crew, who stumble on a pile of banknotes. Foyle’s assignment is pilferage along the seacoast, but Commissioner Rose orders him instead to root out Communists, because the man’s daughter is about to marry one.
It opens with a soldier in a pub who seems to have lost his war, as he draws a pistol on a lucky civilian to give him a taste of it. He’s one of the crew, time-delay fuses are now in use, Russia is brought into the war only at the end of the episode.
Millar has an astonishing down-angle on a drydock like the steps of an amphitheater, and a very useful background to a walk along the quays, the superstructure of a destroyer.
A very startling scene is aptly described by an Irish lady who witnesses it as “like a Hollywood movie, James Cagney, you dirty rat.” Another of the crew is bundled into a car outside the pub by henchmen of the shipyard owners, who want their fortune back.
The serenity of this writing (by Anthony Horowitz) is like a taut string. The money is wheeled out of the shipyard in the bomb, leaving behind a bit of explosive carelessly. The communist and his shop-steward associate are adroitly studied and left at that.