Непредвиденная вакансия - Часть первая - Былые дни V
The first effusion of Pagford’s outrage had annealed into a quieter, but no less powerful, sense of grievance. The Fields polluted and corrupted a place of peace and beauty, and the smouldering townsfolk remained determined to cut the estate adrift. Yet boundary reviews had come and gone, and reforms in local government had swept the area without effecting any change: the Fields remained part of Pagford. Newcomers to the town learned quickly that abhorrence of the estate was a necessary passport to the goodwill of that hard core of Pagfordians who ran everything.
But now, at long last – over sixty years after Old Aubrey Fawley had handed Yarvil that fatal parcel of land – after decades of patient work, of strategizing and petitioning, of collating information and haranguing sub-committees – the anti-Fielders of Pagford found themselves, at last, on the trembling threshold of victory.
The recession was forcing local authorities to streamline, cut and reorganize. There were those on the higher body of Yarvil District Council who foresaw an advantage to their electoral fortunes if the crumbling little estate, likely to fare poorly under the austerity measures imposed by the national government, were to be scooped up, and its disgruntled inhabitants joined to their own voters.
Pagford had its own representative in Yarvil: District Councillor Aubrey Fawley. This was not the man who had enabled the construction of the Fields, but his son, ‘Young Aubrey’, who had inherited Sweetlove House and who worked through the week as a merchant banker in London. There was a whiff of penance in Aubrey’s involvement in local affairs, a sense that he ought to make right the wrong that his father had so carelessly done to the little town. He and his wife Julia donated and gave out prizes at the agricultural show, sat on any number of local committees, and threw an annual Christmas party to which invitations were much coveted.
It was Howard’s pride and delight to think that he and Aubrey were such close allies in the continuing quest to reassign the Fields to Yarvil, because Aubrey moved in a higher sphere of commerce that commanded Howard’s fascinated respect. Every evening, after the delicatessen closed, Howard removed the tray of his old-fashioned till, and counted up coins and dirty notes before placing them in a safe. Aubrey, on the other hand, never touched money during his office hours, and yet he caused it to move in unimaginable quantities across continents. He managed it and multiplied it and, when the portents were less propitious, he watched magisterially as it vanished. To Howard, Aubrey had a mystique that not even a worldwide financial crash could dent; the delicatessen-owner was impatient of anyone who blamed the likes of Aubrey for the mess in which the country found itself. Nobody had complained when things were going well, was Howard’s oft-repeated view, and he accorded Aubrey the respect due to a general injured in an unpopular war.
Meanwhile, as a district councillor, Aubrey was privy to all kinds of interesting statistics, and in a position to share a good deal of information with Howard about Pagford’s troublesome satellite. The two men knew exactly how much of the district’s resources were poured, without return or apparent improvement, into the Fields’ dilapidated streets; that nobody owned their own house in the Fields (whereas the red-brick houses of the Cantermill Estate were almost all in private hands these days; they had been prettified almost beyond recognition, with window-boxes and porches and neat front lawns); that nearly two-thirds of Fields-dwellers lived entirely off the state; and that a sizeable proportion passed through the doors of the Bellchapel Addiction Clinic.
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