On the opposite wall was a Damien Hirst spot painting, bought by Arabella after a decent bonus season. Roger's considered view of the painting, looking at it from aesthetic, art-historical, interior-design, and psychological points of view, was that it had cost forty-seven thousand pounds, plus VAT.
Any flights would be taken business class, since Roger thought that the whole point of having money, if it had to be summed up in a single point, which it couldn't, but if you had to, the whole point of having a bit of money was not to have to fly scum class.
No, Roger had not seen the funny side. But there had been a moment when, after looking at his watch, he had thought: I can remember when Christmas morning would start at about half past ten with a glass of Buck's Fizz in bed. Now it begins at half past five, with a test of my fine motor skills and ability to read Korean.
In his experience with women, it was difficult to recover once things began to go wrong--once they had unreasonably decided that you were a person with whom they were not under any circumstances ever going to have sex.
In all memory there is a degree of fallenness; we are all exiles from our own pasts, just as, on looking up from a book, we discover anew our banishment from the bright worlds of imagination and fantasy. A cross-channel ferry, with its overfilled ashtrays and vomiting children, is as good a place as any to reflect on the angel who stands with a flaming sword in front of the gateway to all our yesterdays.
But the thing which had made him fall for her, fall properly, was the way she seemed so calm and so quiet and so sad. Surrounded by noisy bankers showing off, and their variously pushy or beady or anxious or competitive wives, she seemed to be from somewhere else; a place where people carried their own burdens; a grander and realer and more honourable place. Roger didn't know that Matya spent a lot of that evening thinking about home, but he could tell that she was thinking about something, and it was that other thing which, for him, did it.
A solicitor had looked up at the sky, swept blue by the wind, and had a sudden sense of religious consolation, a feeling that this life cannot possibly be all, and that it is not possible for consciousness to end with the end of life.
That was the main thing wrong with Mrs. Kamal. She spent such an extraordinary amount of mental energy feeling irritated that it was impossible not to feel irritated in turn. It was oxygen to her, this low-grade dissatisfaction, shading into anger; this sense that things weren't being done correctly, that everything from the traffic noise at night to the temperature of the hot water in the morning to the progress of Mohammed's potty training to the fact that Fatima wasn't being taught to read Urdu, only English, to the fact that Rohinka served only two dishes at dinner the night of her arrival to the cost of the car insurance for the VW Sharan to the fact that Shahid didn't have a 'proper job' and seemed to have no intention of getting one, let alone a wife, to the unfriendliness of London, the fact that it was an 'impossible city,' to the ostentatious way she complained about missing Lahore, especially at dinner time, giving meaningful, sad, reproachful looks at the food Rohinka had cooked.
The artist says to the cosmos: All I ask is infinite love-is that so very wrong? And the cosmos doesn't even bother to respond.
Petunia only ever went to the doctor reluctantly, and her motive in doing so was always the same: she did it in order to feel less anxious about things. The doctor was supposed to make the worry go away; she did quite enough worrying without actually having something to worry about. When she came out feeling no less anxious, as this time, something had gone wrong. The basic contract had been broken.
Although he too was heading to work, Shahid was glad he wasn't dragging himself off to some office job. Shahid's view: anybody who had to wear a suit to work died a little inside, every day.
It gave her a sudden sense that it was now her turn to grow old, to find the world changing, sliding away from the old ways of being and behaving, so that you were gradually a stranger to the place you lived in. The woman priest with jogging clothes and a BlackBerry gave Mary a glimpse of what life must have been like for her mother as she grew older.
The person doing the worrying experiences it as a form of love, the person being worried about experiences it as a form of control.
In Shahid's view, the best way through difficult times, as through life in general, was just to go along with things. It was a rare problem that couldn't be solved by being ignored.
You heard people say forty was the new thirty and fifty was the new forty and sixty was the new forty-five, but you never heard anybody say eighty was the new anything. Eighty was just eighty.
He had a simple maxim for all competitive or adversarial situations: work out what the other party least wants you to do, and then do it. Relieving your feelings was fun, but the best course of action was to make things as difficult as possible for the person trying to make things difficult for you.
The white policeman was a man who gave an impression of heaviness. It wasn't that he was fat, but he sagged as if with a moral or psychic burden; his shoulders sagged, his eyes sagged, his suit sagged and he sat sagged in his chair, as if his disappointments with the world were bearing down on him. He made it clear that Shahid was one of these disappointments.