Transatlantic Patterns: Cultural Comparisons of England with America

Transatlantic Patterns: Cultural Comparisons of England with America

Transatlantic Patterns: Cultural Comparisons of England with America

Transatlantic Patterns: Cultural Comparisons of England with America

Excerpt

I went for a walk early one Sunday morning—long before breakfast could be got—and saw a couple of young men, presumably undergraduates, standing beside a car with the engine running. They were smoking and talking quietly. No one and nothing else was stirring. It was a sports car, and one of them was in evening dress, the other wore one of those stiff-skirted, white, riding-coat macs. They seemed to have been up all night and were about to leave town. Clearly they belonged to a different world from mine. More privileged, no doubt, but that was not the point. More strenuous. They had just freshened up. Their hair was newly and flatly combed; their cheeks were newly and shinily shaved. And it was the harshness of the discipline they had imposed on themselves which struck me—the rasping of the razor and the dragging of the comb—that each had treated his face as if it was just another part of his body. They had both stocky, strong-looking, hard-muscled bodies, but that their faces should be the same struck me as a revelation. They were not just tough; they were toughs. For this was not discipline in preparation for work—that I was familiar with—but discipline in preparation for pleasure. They did not mean to participate in some occasion of pleasure or to please; they had not soft-

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