Nor have I any idea why Said should consider Orwell’s life a ‘comfortable’ one. Having taken a bullet through the throat, and while suffering from a demoralising and ultimately lethal case of TB, he lived on an astonishingly low budget and tried whenever possible to grow his own food and even to make his own furniture. Indeed, if there was anything affected about him, it might be his indifference to bourgeois life, his almost ostentatious austerity.

Before I was married, I thought the sound of bangles jangling on my forearms would be delightful. I looked forward to being able to wear bells around my ankles and silver necklaces around my neck, but not any more, not since I had learned what they represented for the man who gave them. A necklace was no prettier than a piece of of rope that ties a goat to a tree, depriving it of freedom.

I’ve felt that I was trying to row a heavily loaded boat in a storm. I’ve had so much trouble just trying to keep afloat that I couldn’t be bothered about things that didn’t matter, things I could part with easily and not miss, like good manners and–well, things like that. I’ve been too afraid my boat would be swamped and so I’ve dumped overboard the things that seemed least important.

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