John Barrington Wain (14 March 1925 – 24 May 1994) was an English poet, novelist, and critic, associated with the literary group “The Movement”. For most of his life, Wain worked as a freelance journalist and author, writing and reviewing for newspapers and the radio. Wain grijpt terug naar schrijvers uit de Victoriaanse periode. Hij heeft essays gewijd aan Dickens, Tennyson, Browning en Hopkins, maar hij heeft ook belangstelling voor de picareske romans van Richardson en Fielding uit de achttiende eeuw. Dat is b.v. het geval bij “Hurry on down” uit 1953 en “The contenders” uit 1958, een boek over jongeren die weg willen uit een provinciestadje.

“Hurry on down” is the story of Charles Lumley, who has got a B.A. in history but decides not to join the bourgeois society. He breaks with his girlfriend and starts his new life by being a window-cleaner. First he lives in het YMCA-hostel, but afterwards he moves in in the shed, where his friend, the writer Edwin Froulish, lives with his girlfriend, Betty. When Charles discovers that Betty (who pays the rent) gets her money by prostituting, he decides to move to his partner, Ern. Ern, however, is arrested by the police. He had been involved in some dirty business, while he was working for a transport firm. The leader of the gang, Ted Bunder, takes Charles into it. Charles’ motive for dealing with wuch people is that he is violently in love with a rich girl, Veronica, the niece of Roderick, a business-man. Charles got to know her by his friend Mr. Blearny, an organizer of “entertainments”. Meanwhile a journalist, Harry Dogson, is hunting after drug-trafficants and he want Charles’s help, although Charles is actually part of the gang. In this way Dogson gets killed by Bunder. While he tries to escape, Charles had a bad accident and claims not to remember what has happened. The police does not think that he is involved in it, so that they leave him alone. While he’s recovering, however, he finds out that Veronica is Roderick’s mistress. He stays in the hospital as a servant and has a momentary love-affaire with the nurse, Rosa. He leaves her when a millionaire, Mr. Braceweight, asks him to be his chauffeur. Few months later he has to quit this job, as Mr. Braceweight’s son crashed the car, without Charles trying to prevent it. He works in Blearny’s cabaret for a while (chucker-out), where he meets Froulish again. This one introduces him to Terence Frush, who has a humoristic program on the radio. Charles is engaged and gets a large sum of money. Then Veronica comes back. “It was dusk now. He crossed the room and turned a switch. The light sprang suddenly into every corner, dramatizing each outline, emphasizing the shape of the furniture and the shape of their predicament. They looked at each other, baffled and enquiring”. (p.252).

Ronny De Schepper

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