She couldn’t quite reach the corners of the glass and was stretching on tiptoe across the dressing-table when Geoffrey put his arm round her shoulders. It wasn’t an accident; he was breathing too hard. She was about to shrug him away when she thought of Meredith.. Rehearsing with Geoffrey would make it easier when the time came for Meredith to claim her. Penetration, from she had gathered from library books, was inescapably painful unless one had played a lot of tennis or ridden stallions, and she hadn’t done either…She began to stroke Geoffrey’s harsh hair. It was a womanly gesture witnessed often enough on the screen at the cinema. She supposed it was maternal rather than sensual; it was what women did for babies, to make them feel secure and stop their heads from wobbling. Squirming, she left off cradling Geoffrey’s head and bought her hand down to separate her stomach from his. Something with the texture of an orange, peeled and sticky, bumped against her wrist. She couldn’t suppress crying out her distaste, any more than she could help envying Geoffrey his lack of inhibition. On occasions, when visiting the doctor for some minor ailment, she had even felt it immodest to stick out her tongue. She didn’t dare look down in case she glimpsed that object bobbing against her overall. It’s no use, she thought. I’ll have to practice on someone else. It would be fearful enough to be up against something as dreadful as that belonging to a beloved, let alone attached to a person one despised.
‘Monday night was bath night, because Monday was wash day. All the dirty washing went into Gran’s copper in the scullery; clouds of steam escaped every time she lifted the lid. The sodden clothes went through the mangle, then on to the lines in the back yard. In wet weather they had to be dried in the house, and that Robert Francis could not abide. He would wolf down his cold meat and bubble and squeak and escape to the flea-pit on the corner. He wasn’t keen on the pictures but where else? When the wash was done, the hot grey water was baled out of the copper and lugged up two flights of stairs, bucket by bucket. The bathroom was splendid, with double doors, a wide window bordered with stain glass, a bath with claw feet – but no plumbing. My grandfather liked the bathroom; he reared his canaries there…Caroline Emily brought me up as her own, though she was no longer young and there was still talk of a foundling hospital from time to time. Nobody saw much of the flighty one who had brought her trouble home. Aunt Carrie was good to me.’
To cut a long story short: