Section 65 is a rolling stone… but who set it rolling?
On his way down to the recruitment fair in London Vernon had the choice between listening to Radio Four or his newly acquired Rolling Stones CD. Forty Licks in forty ticks he concluded and turned the radio on.
He tuned in immediately to a debate chaired by Melvyn Bragg, exploring the characters and context of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Four academics were discussing the underbelly of colonial rule as portrayed fictionally through the eyes of merchant seaman Marlowe. Like football commentators the academics were in danger of chewing the flavour out of the thing they were taste-testing, but it was still a good yarn, and it kept his grey matter out of the red.
The most telling observation Vernon gleaned was their criticism that the book is often portrayed as a psychological study of the slide into madness experienced by a particular European. Africa meanwhile is relegated to an exotic backdrop to this dramatic and tragic case study. Vernon found Chinua Achebe’s criticism compelling, and uncomfortable. Was he about to relegate Africa to an exotic backdrop to his own particular narrative? He hoped not.
CHAPTER FOUR: Pushed; but by whom?