Thursday 23 August 2012

Fox-Ache Hall

Algernon Swift visits his old friend, Oliver Blastet, at the magnificently dilapidated Fox-Ache Hall.  It is a peculiarity of the house that every piece of news that arrives at its master’s table is unfailingly bad and is greeted with renewed exasperation.
Breakfast comes in late and cold.  Oliver asks the meaning of this, and is told the butler has absconded with the cook.
“Ah, Fox-Ache,” Oliver mutters. 
Swift, however, discerns in his friend’s voice a hint of nostalgia – a nostalgia for all the past and ongoing despairs of Fox-Ache Hall – for the very fabric of a place where nothing ever turns to any good – for home, where the falling-apart heart is ...
And so it is as, through the day, Oliver is greeted with one piece of bad news after another 
--  the trees in the plantation have been turned to powder by a mysterious disease
-- a band of itinerant thieving librarians have stolen the rare first edition of Crotchet Castle from the library
-- the West Wing of the house has subsided so far that it is now frankly more easterly ...
to each of which Oliver replies murmuringly:
that Swift knows there is nowhere his friend would rather be than here at home at Fox-Ache Hall – where the general failing of everything is as reassuring as the arms of an old overcoat, where the call to action is faint and faraway over the heavy dark hills, and over everything hangs the dull sad ache of foxes in the wood.

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