Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Opening paragraphs................

The news hit the British High Commission in Nairobi at nine-thirty on a Monday morning.  Sandy Woodrow took it like a bullet, jaw rigid, chest out, smack through his divided English heart.  He was standing.  That much he afterwards remembered.  He was standing and the internal phone was piping.  He was reaching for something, he heard the piping so he checked himself in order to stretch down and fish the receiver off the hook and say, "Woodrow."  Or maybe, "Woodrow here."  And he certainly barked his name a bit, he had that memory for sure, of his voice sounding like someone else's, and sounding stroppy:  "Woodrow here," his own perfectly decent name, but without the softening of his nickname Sandy, and snapped out as if he hated it, because the High Commissioner's usual prayer meeting was slated to start in thirty minutes prompt, with Woodrow, as Head of Chancery, playing in-house moderator to a bunch of special-interest prima donnas, each of whom wanted sole possession of the High Commissioner's heart and mind.

-John Le Carre,  The Constant Gardener

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