Car 6

Mrs Beverly Tompset

Outward appearance

Worn, middle-aged woman, grey face, bright red hair, green overcoat, black jeans, loafers. Reading The English Verb . The lettering is 3-D and emerges from the distance, like the opening of Star Wars . LTP, it says, as if that were something thrilling.

Inside information

Lecturer in commercial sociology at Bruenwalt International. Her foreign students tend to speak textbook English. They cannot fathom English verbs, which are modified out of recognition by prepositions. 'To beat' is different from 'to beat up'. Beverly is yet to find a textbook that adequately explains this.

What she is doing or thinking

She is thinking of Attila, the homeless Big Issue salesman outside Waterloo. She wants him to lecture her students on English. He's a Cossack but his English is flawlessly American and colloquial. Perhaps he could explain prepositional verbs to them. As it happens, there is a lad on the course from the old Soviet Republics. Beverly is sure that it would be a relief for Attila to talk to someone from home.

She thinks of her lovely, plump, pallid husband. How can she explain to him or herself that she is love with wild Cossack who worked many years on American merchant vessels? Beverly has spent her life banishing romance, all that novelettish stuff. She can banish it again.

But for now, surely it's all right to dream a little bit of being swept up in firm, brown, young arms? She lowers the book and sighs.

In the meantime, she can at least get him work. Again, she lifts up The English Verb .

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