A VIEW OF THE SOUTH SEAS FROM SUSSEX (AND BRADFORD)

Through the sweltering and seemingly endless heatwave, and now in the cool, damp aftermath, I’ve been reading the short stories of Somerset Maugham, set in the South Sea islands. One of them, curiously you might think, put me in my mind of the Bradford of my boyhood. Hence this little film:

I was struck, too, by a passage in another of Maugham’s short stories, ‘The Pool’, which I thought I’d share with you here. (Click below to hear audio)

Next evening he went again to the pool. Ethel was there; and the mystery of the sunset, the deep silence of the water, the lithe grace of the coconut trees, added to her beauty, giving it a profundity, a magic, which stirred the heart to unknown emotions. For some reason that time he had the whim not to speak to her. She took no notice of him. She did not even glance in his direction. She swam about the green pool. She dived, she rested on the bank, as though she were quite alone: he had a queer feeling that he was invisible. Scraps of poetry, half forgotten, floated across his memory, and vague recollections of the Greece he had negligently studied in his school days. When she had changed her wet clothes for dry ones and sauntered away he found a scarlet hibiscus where she had been. It was a flower that she had worn in her hair when she came to bathe and, having taken it out on getting into the water, had forgotten or not cared to put in again. He took it in his hands and looked at it with a singular emotion. He had an instinct to keep it, but his sentimentality irritated him, and he flung it away. It gave him quite a little pang to see it float down the stream.

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