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Boating for Beginnersby Jeanette Winterson
Mrs Munde was having trouble with the Hallelujah Hamburger. Noah's machine was slow, messy and smelly. She could have whipped them up quicker with a pastry mould. Truth to tell she was finding the Lord's work altogether tedious. When Ham came back for the third time, she told him they should scrap the machine.
'We can't,' he explained patiently. 'Machines mean cheaper labour. To do this by hand, even if it is quicker, will cost more because it comes under the category of skilled rather than operative work. They'll start calling themselves chefs and asking for a share in the profits. I want menials and that means machine work.'
'Well, you're going to have to improve it,' panted Mrs Munde. 'You can't run a business with this.'
Ham thought she was probably right and took the machine away to one of the Ark engineers. If they could power a boat surely they could improve a hamburger machine. He generously gave Mrs Munde the afternoon off. This cheered her up because she wanted to knock down her kitchen which had been oppressing her for some time. She felt the need for open spaces as she got older, perhaps so that she could look at the stars and dwell on her life. Gloria hated her mother's demolition projects and so Mrs Munde tried to do them as surreptitiously as possible, but given the nature of demolition work found that quite difficult.
She hurried home and collected her axe. 'Nasty pokey place,' she muttered. 'It's not hygenic to be confined, especially in the warm weather. I'll soon have it down,' and she started to chop at the bamboo walls.
Once upon a time her friends would have come to help her, but people had changed - or rather fridges had changed them. Mrs Munde felt that being able to store food for longer periods had broken down the community spirit. There was no need to share now, no need to meet every day, gathering your veg or killing a few rabbits. The day-to-dayness had gone out of life. Everyone lived apart in their own little house with their own little fridges. Noah was doing his best, but greed and iniquity were catching up again. There had been a boom in freezer food over the last couple of years. That was probably why Noah had decided to launch his all-singing, all-dancing stage-and-screen epic in a last attempt to thaw out the world's hard and sinful heart.
Mrs Munde was so carried away with her thoughts and her demolition that she didn't hear Gloria come home. Gloria had decided not to move to Noah's, although the stabling for Trebor was much better there. Taking one look at her mother's handiwork, she swung up the ladder into her bedroom and started to root through the trunk that contained their vast collection of Bunny Mix ephemera. She found the one she wanted and squatted in a corner, trying not to get too excited. It was called Moonlight Over The Desert, and had won the Purple Heart Award for best romantic fiction. She read the blurb half-aloud to better appreciate the sensuous prose...
'"When slim brunette Naomi travels across the desert with her uncle's caravan she doesn't expect to find true love. A mysterious thunderstorm forces the party to take shelter in a nomadic village, a place of sultry tradition where she meets Roy, the most fearless camel tamer of them all."'
The first chapter was called 'Into the desert' and, as she read, Gloria began to sink into that semi-hypnotic state she always experienced with Bunny Mix and her magic...
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