Tuesday, January 06, 2015

The In Between Time by Alexander Baron (Panther 1971)

And so he listened to all the street-corner politicians. He was most drawn to the saddest of them all, the Independent Labour Party, the diehard remnant of a force once great in Britain. He had a mind split without discomfort between commonsense and fantasy, and he knew that they talked nonsense. But their nonsense set him on fire because it corresponded with his fantasies. He knew they were a hopeless little sect but they appealed to a quixotic streak in him. They were the most fiery, dirty and hairy among an array of groups by no mean deficient in these qualities, and he, the neat schoolboy, was a secret romantic who knew Murger's Scènes de la Vie de Bohème almost by heart. 

Yet he did not join them. For the real force that impelled him to the meetings, of which he was at least vaguely aware, must be revealed. Among the I.L.P. fanatics he saw only one woman, and she was of advanced years: at least thirty-five. She wore a sort of floral nightgown, very dirty, down to her ankles and sandals upon dirty feet. She looked out from a tangle of tarnished, unshorn hair that spread upon her shoulders. There was no place for her in Victor's dreams. The truth was that although his frowning attention to social problems was sincere, he was looking for something more attainable than the millennium. He was looking for girls.

In this there was nothing remarkable. It has been true for the last hundred years, and it applies as much to the notoriously wild youth of today as it did in Victor's time, that the most powerful of all the magnets drawing young men to radical politics is not the Oedipus Complex but the idea of radical girls.