HATCH: BARE BONES Weldworth was linked to metal fabrication, an obscure activity to many, a meritocracy based on weld integrity, a service providing the unfamiliar, often hidden skeletons of structures. One wouldn’t expect atriums or courtyard fountains. Wit, such as it existed, lay, perhaps, in a mild-steel lattice where several braces had been ingeniously designed out, maintaining strength yet cutting assembly costs.
CLARE: A COMEDOWN? “Mother, do you disapprove of my career?”
“Disapprove? Goodness you are at odds with yourself. No, I’m impressed beyond measure. You’ve astonished me.”
“Like a dog’s walking on its hind legs?”
Mrs Morgan giggled. “You always get the quotations right. Most people think it’s hinder. That impresses me too. But disapprove? No.”
“In your heart of hearts, though, wasn’t physics a bit of a comedown? Perilously close to dirty finger-nails?”
CLARE: ACADEMIC GLITTER If the reasons were obvious the event was splendid. So splendid that she had no hesitation in doffing her tailored chalk-stripe for something far more extrovert: an ostentatious silk gown with deeply scalloped neckline, specified and bought for that evening alone, her response to Wadham honouring its brightest and best. Six months previously she’d been appointed UK technical vice-president of one of the world’s great software giants, the youngest to hold the job and the first woman. Tonight the college’s crystal contained Latour.
HATCH: UNFIT FOR PURPOSE “Guy I knew joined the Middlesex Press Group. Oxford, modern languages. Prepared to do the grind, the long hours, the lousy pay. Got sent out on a house fire and came back worried. ‘What do I do? I couldn’t think of anything more to ask. With more time I could have made a list. But I didn’t have the time.’ I thought it wasn’t time you lacked, mate, it was instinct. I gave him three months but he was out in as many weeks. Works in PR at three times the salary. He has the hair for it; long, light brown, keeps falling over his eyes."
CLARE: THE IT SWITCH “A tide in the affairs of man. During that time most of us found development work had more to do with using computers than, shall we say, visible engineering. And computer skills transfer to other branches of industry. I made a rather ironical move – from medicine to armaments. A very large step, in fact: a tank gun-sight with three sub-systems under one stratagem. I headed a sub-system team and had one of those lamp-bulb moments journalists like writing about."
HATCH: NON-MANAGEMENTAL It was his job to unlock the store for the seven o’clock opening. Within the racks Hatch smelt the bitter yet oily atmosphere cooked up by early morning sun on the corrugated-iron roof. At the reception counter he swung up the wire netting shutter then unbolted the customer’s door. Two sleep-deadened youths in garage overalls shuffled through, making their needs known in the oral shorthand Hatch had had difficulty understanding a few weeks ago.
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