Friday, August 24, 2012

The Man Who Lost His Wife by Julian Symons (Penguin Crime 1970)

'Think it's a bore,' Bunce repeated, and laughed in what might have been a meaningful manner. He turned to the sports page in the paper, as though reading an account of the previous day's play would provide some final answer to his questions. Gilbert closed his eyes and saw the cheek he had kissed at parting, wonderfully smooth. Why had she not kissed him on the mouth, did she now find him repulsive? Such ideas were alien to him. He was startled when Bunce said emphatically, 'Sex.'

One of the batsmen had been bowled, his middle stump knocked out of the ground. 'What?'

'That's why you get a kick from it.' He tapped the paper. 'You use the ball, see, and you try to get rid of the stump. See what it says here, Herman uprooted the middle stump and that's what just happened now, right?

'Yes, but -'

'Boy, that bowler's uprooted his middle stump all right, it's a castration symbol, see? And those pads the batter wears, he's protecting his stump with them. He wants to hit that ball, get the damn' thing away from him to the boundary, the limit. Get that ball away, he's saying, I don't want it near my stump. You read what Melanie Klein says about bat and ball games?'

'I can't say I have.'

'They symbolize a fear of sex, keep it hidden, that's the thing, destroy it if you can. And the white clothes, what do they mean but purity? It's a hell of a funny game.' The players went into the pavilion. 'That's it then, glad to have seen it.'

'They'' be coming out again. This is the tea interval.'

'I guess I've seen enough.' With cricket satisfactorily explained Bunce rose to his feet.