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My bedroom was filled with reading material: books salvaged from dustbins, books borrowed from friends, books with missing pages, books found in the street, abandoned, unreadable, torn, scribbled on, unloved, unwanted and dismissed. My bedroom was the Battersea Dogs' Home of books.
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Before Elfrida Phipps left London for good and moved to the country, she made a trip to Battersea Dogs' Home, and returned with a canine companion. It took a good, and heart-rending, half hour of searching, but as soon as she saw him, sitting very close to the bars of his kennel and gazing up at her with dark and melting eyes, she knew he was the one. She did not want a large animal, nor did she relish the idea of a yapping lap dog. This one was exactly the right size. Dog size.
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If I beat my grandmother to death to-morrow in the middle of Battersea Park, you may be perfectly certain that people will say everything about it except the simple and fairly obvious fact that it is wrong. Some will call it insane; that is, will accuse it of a deficiency of intelligence. This is not necessarily true at all. You could not tell whether the act was unintelligent or not unless you knew my grandmother. Some will call it vulgar, disgusting, and the rest of it; that is, they will accuse it of a lack of manners. Perhaps it does show a lack of manners; but this is scarcely its most serious disadvantage. Others will talk about the loathsome spectacle and the revolting scene; that is, they will accuse it of a deficiency of art, or e¦sthetic beauty. This again depends on the circumstances: in order to be quite certain that the appearance of the old lady has definitely deteriorated under the process of being beaten to death, it is necessary for the philosophical critic to be quite certain how ugly she was before. Another school of thinkers will say that the action is lacking in efficiency: that it is an uneconomic waste of a good grandmother. But that could only depend on the value, which is again an individual matter. The only real point that is worth mentioning is that the action is wicked, because your grandmother has a right not to be beaten to death. But of this simple moral explanation modern journalism has, as I say, a standing fear. It will call the action anything else-mad, bestial, vulgar, idiotic, rather than call it sinful.
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