— The trouble with capitalism, Alice said, — is that it’s always predicated on growth. But we can’t go on just making more and more things, and using up more of the earth’s resources, we have to cut carbon emissions, to begin with.
— Are you serious? Is there anybody who seriously still thinks there’s time for that? Do you imagine that Chinese heavy industry can run on sunshine?
— We have to live differently. We have to learn to do without things.
— Tell that to the Chinese.

From the kitchen came the rattle of china and cutlery, pan lids chiming, Alice banging the wooden spoon on the side of the pan after stirring.

They were using the good china from the sideboard, the cups weightless and fine, transparent. It you held them up to the light when they were empty you could see set in the base a picture of a woman’s head, strands of her loose hair blowing behind her

— Ever had a Chinese burn? he said slyly.
— What is that?
— We used to do them in the playground at junior school. Give me your arm.

The had exchanged the reams of tickets they won for a white china vase in the shape of a crumpled boot, which Kasim said he was going to give as a present to Alice, just to watch how it put her on the spot, having to appear grateful when it was the ugliest thing she’d ever seen.

Ceremonially, over coffee in the dining room, Kasim presented Alice with the china boot.

In the Sorbonne the discussion groups were packed out, day and night. Everyone had their copy of the Little Red Book.

Zitate aus: Tessa Hadley, The Past, 2015, Vintage
Foto: Bei St Austell, 2019