In Pursuit of the English

In Pursuit of the English

In Pursuit of the English

In Pursuit of the English

Excerpt

I came into contact with the English very early in life, because as it turns out, my father was an Englishman. I put it like this, instead of making a claim or deprecating a fact, because it was not until I had been in England for some time that I understood my father.

I wouldn't like to say that I brooded over his character; that would be putting it too strongly, but I certainly spent a good part of my childhood coming to terms with it. I must confess, to be done with confessions right at the start, that I concluded at the age of about six my father was mad. This did not upset me. For a variety of reasons, none of which will be gone into here, the quintessential eccentricity of the human race was borne in upon me from the beginning. And aside from whatever deductions I might have come to for myself, verbal confirmation came from outside, continuously, and from my father himself. It was his wont to spend many hours of the day seated in a rickety deck-chair on the top of the semi- mountain on which our house was built, surveying the African landscape which stretched emptily away on all sides for leagues. After a silence which might very well have lasted several hours, he would start to his feet, majestically splenetic in shabby khaki, a prophet in his country, and, shaking his fist at the sky, shout out: 'Mad! Mad! Everyone! Everywhere! Mad!' With which he would sink back, biting his thumb and frowning, into sombre contemplation of his part of the universe; quite a large part, admittedly, compared to what is visible to, let us say, an inhabitant of . . .

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