Chapter 2

           Asheputhishandtothedoor-knobWinstonsawthathehadleftthediaryopenonthetable. DOWNWITHBIGBROTHERwaswrittenalloverit,inlettersalmostbigenoughtobelegibleacrosstheroom. Itwasaninconceivablystupidthingtohavedone. But,herealized,eveninhispanichehadnotwantedtosmudgethecreamypaperbyshuttingthebookwhiletheinkwaswet. 

           Hedrewinhisbreathandopenedthedoor. Instantlyawarmwaveofreliefflowedthroughhim. Acolourless,crushed-lookingwoman,withwispyhairandalinedface,wasstandingoutside. 

           ’Oh,comrade,’shebeganinadreary,whiningsortofvoice,’IthoughtIheardyoucomein. Doyouthinkyoucouldcomeacrossandhavealookatourkitchensink? It’sgotblockedupand-’ 

           ItwasMrsParsons,thewifeofaneighbouronthesamefloor. (’Mrs’wasawordsomewhatdiscountenancedbytheParty youweresupposedtocalleveryone’comrade’butwithsomewomenoneuseditinstinctively. )Shewasawomanofaboutthirty,butlookingmucholder. Onehadtheimpressionthattherewasdustinthecreasesofherface. Winstonfollowedherdownthepassage. Theseamateurrepairjobswereanalmostdailyirritation. VictoryMansionswereoldflats,builtin1930orthereabouts,andwerefallingtopieces. Theplasterflakedconstantlyfromceilingsandwalls,thepipesburstineveryhardfrost,theroofleakedwhenevertherewassnow, theheatingsystemwasusuallyrunningathalfsteamwhenitwasnotcloseddownaltogetherfrommotivesofeconomy. 

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