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Estratto da "The World According to Bertie" Cap.7 di Alexander McCall Smith

Sul sito di Alexander McCall Smith ho avuto modo di incappare in un paio di capitoli del quarto libro della serie. Purtroppo, qui in Italia, siamo leggermente indietro rispetto alla reale uscita dei libri in lingua originale.

Ecco uno dei due piccoli anticipi trovati nel sito

Chapter 7

Irene’s Doubts over Bertie’s Friendships

"While Domenica listened to Angus recount the traumatic experiences endured by his dog, Cyril, Bertie Pollock stared out of his bedroom window. Bertie’s view was of Scotland Street itself, sloping sharply to the old marshalling yards down below, now a playground, which Bertie had been forbidden by his mother to enter.
“It’s not so much the devices themselves,” Irene had said to her husband, Stuart. “It’s not the so-called swings, it’s the attitudes to which Bertie will be exposed down there.”
Stuart looked at her blankly. He had no idea why she should call the swings “so-called”; surely swings were either swings or they were not. There was nothing complicated about swings, as far as he could make out; they went backwards and forwards – that was all they did. And what attitudes would Bertie be exposed to in the playground?
Irene saw Stuart’s look of puzzlement, and sighed. “It’s the roughness, Stuart,” she said. “Surely you’ve seen it yourself. All that aggressive play that goes on. And there’s another thing: have you noticed the rigid segregation which the children down there impose on themselves? Have you noticed how the boys play with the boys and the girls play with the girls? Have you seen it?”
Stuart thought for a moment. Now that Irene mentioned it, it certainly seemed to be true. There were always little knots of boys and girls all playing within the group; one did not see boys and girls playing together. Irene was right. But, he thought, surely this was natural.
“When I was a boy,” he began, “we used to have a gang. It was boys only. But the girls had their own gang. I think everybody was happy enough with the arrangement. My gang was called . . .”
Irene silenced him with her stare. “I think the less said about your boyhood, Stuart, the better. Things have moved on, you know.”
“But have boys moved on?” It was a bold question, and Stuart’s voice faltered as he asked it.
“Yes,” said Irene firmly. “Boys have moved on. The problem is that certain men have failed to move on.” She fixed him with a piercing stare as she made this remark, and Stuart shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
“I don’t think we should argue,” he said. “You know that I’m fundamentally in sympathy with the idea of bringing up boys to be more sensitive.”
“I’m glad to hear it,” said Irene.
“But there’s no reason why Bertie shouldn’t play with other boys from time to time,” Stuart said. “And I don’t mean that he should play in an exclusive sense. I think that boys can be encouraged to play inclusively, but with other boys, if you see what I . . .” He trailed off. Irene was staring at him again.
Irene was thinking of Bertie’s friends. She had met several of the boys in his class, and she had to confess that she was not impressed. Tofu, for instance, was a thoroughly unpleasant little boy, as far as she could make out. There had been that unfortunate incident when Bertie had exchanged his dungarees for Tofu’s jeans, which was bad enough, but when one added to it the fact that this transaction had taken place at a bowling alley in Fountainbridge – of all places – Tofu’s influence hardly appeared benign.
Then there was Hiawatha, whom Irene had come across at several school functions. There was something off about that boy, Irene thought. She had asked Bertie about it, and he had replied that Hiawatha was known for never changing his socks and that this explained the smell.
“We get used to it, Mummy,” he said. “Sometimes Miss Harmony opens the window, which helps. But we don’t really mind too much.”
And there were other boys in the class who seemed equally questionable as suitable companions for Bertie. Merlin was decidedly unusual, even by the standards of Stockbridge, where he lived. Irene had met his mother at a parents’ evening and had found it very difficult to sustain a conversation with somebody who insisted on bringing the discussion back at every opportunity to crystals and their curative properties. If Bertie were to spend too much time with Merlin, then there would be a danger that he would start thinking in an irrational way, and that would be disastrous. No, Merlin was to be discouraged.
That left that very unpleasant boy whom she had seen hanging about the school gates waiting for his father to collect him. What was his name? Larch. That was it. Irene had heard from Bertie that Larch liked arm-wrestling and that nobody dared win because he was known to hit anybody who beat him at anything.
“I’m surprised that Miss Harmony lets him behave like that,” said Irene. “It’s a very well-run school, and I know they don’t tolerate that sort of behaviour.”
“I don’t think that Miss Harmony knows,” said Bertie. “You see, Mummy, there are two different worlds. There’s the grownup world, and then there’s the world down below, where boys and girls live. I don’t think grown-ups really know what’s happening down in our world.”
“Nonsense, Bertie,” said Irene. “We know perfectly well what’s going on. And I’m sure that Miss Harmony knows exactly what Larch gets up to.”
Bertie said nothing, but he was sure that Irene had no idea of anything that happened at school. And he was equally sure that Miss Harmony knew nothing of Larch’s violent tendencies, and all his lies too. That was the trouble with Miss Harmony, and with most grown-ups, Bertie thought. Grown-ups simply did not understand how children lied. Bertie did not lie – he told the truth – but all the others lied. Tofu lied all the time, about just about everything. Merlin made up stories about some of the things he had at home – a crystal that was capable of killing cats if you pointed it at their eyes; that was one of the lies he had told Bertie. Then, when it came to Hiawatha, he was probably lying too, if only they could make out what he was saying. There were just so many lies.
“I think you should spend more time with Olive,” said Irene. “She’s a very nice girl, and I know that you like her.”
Bertie shook his head. “I don’t like Olive, Mummy. I hate her.”
“Now, Bertie!” scolded Irene. “That’s simply not true.”
Bertie sighed. When he told the truth, as he had just done, he was accused of lying. But if he lied, and said that he liked Olive, his mother would nod her approval. The world, he thought, was a very confusing place."