I’ve posted this over at the Mary Renault group but that’s members only, so…
Interview with Andrew and Alec 2014 (Part 1 of 2)
Novel: The Charioteer
Characters: Andrew Raynes, Alec Deacon, Charlie (as interviewer)
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters and make no profit by them.
Charlie Cochrane: Andrew and Alec, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed together.
Andrew: It’s our pleasure. If Alec doesn’t mind me saying that on his behalf?
Alec: That’s fine. I’ll soon say if I disagree, although I’m intrigued by why you’ve got us here together. Do you know this is the first time we’ve met properly?
Andrew: I think she’s gone for two of the scruffy horses.
Alec: I’m sorry, I don’t follow.
CC: I’d better get on with the questions. Andrew, did you ever read the book Laurie left for you? And, if so, did the light finally dawn?
Andrew: Yes and yes, although it’s hard to describe the process. Have you ever seen one of those magic pictures? You know, you’re looking at an old hag and suddenly you realise that from a different perspective it’s a lovely young girl. The story wasn’t something in a book, it was part of my life. And Laurie’s too, in a slightly different way. I’m still not sure who’s the black horse or the white. I can’t help feeling they’re both a bit grey and unkempt. But the story repeats, doesn’t it?
CC: That’s how I see it, certainly. I’d better ask Alec his question. He looks a bit confused. Alec, you can speak confidentially here. What attracted you to Sandy?
Alec: If I’m brutally honest, because he wasn’t Ralph. In fact he’s as unlike Ralph as anyone can be. I’d told myself I needed somebody different, somebody who relied on me, who I could look after without being shrugged off. That’s why I became a doctor, because I wanted to help, but there’s a difference between helping and taking over, isn’t there? I think I’ve said too much. Next question?
CC: Clearly you started medical school before the war. What were your intentions then, in term of training? Alternatively, what do you plan to do now peace has come?
Alec: My intentions? The same now as then. To be the best casualty consultant I could be. I loved the thought of being the man the patient sees first, the man who makes the split second decisions that might mean life or death. That sounds terribly egotistical, doesn’t it? It’s not meant to be. My uncle told me a lot of stories from out in Flanders and they broke a young lad’s heart. I can’t go back and save any of those soldiers, but I can play the same sort of role now, in war or peace.
CC: Andrew, what was it like in London, during the Blitz?
Andrew: Exhilarating. Terrifying. Going to bed never knowing if you’d see the morning, or if the people you know would see the morning, either. I tried not to think too hard about it, because it would drive you mad—where’s the morality in celebrating the downing of a Heinkel, even if it means more families will wake up safe? Those airmen were only doing their duty. I saw you sneer, Alec, but you treat saint and sinner alike.
CC (wishing she’d not put these two together!): Can I ask you both your opinions on blackmail?
Alec: I’ve made mine clear.
Andrew: It’s hideous. I mean, I’ve tried to think why people might do it, but I can only think they’re trying to punish something in themselves, maybe?
Alec: But you have to take a stand against evil, surely? The best form of defence is to make sure you don’t give them any ammunition. It means watching your back and vetting your acquaintances, but plenty of men have managed to avoid the trap.
CC: And plenty of men haven’t.
Alec: I suppose you’d advise us to turn the other cheek, Andrew? How does one turn the other cheek to a blackmailer? Give him twice what he asks for?
Andrew (flushing): I haven’t had to work that out for myself, yet. It’s only when you have to deal with a situation you find out for sure how you’ll react.
CC: A final question for the moment. Alec, you read Ralph’s journals. Does Laurie-in-person live up to Laurie-in-journal?
Alec: I’d assumed that Ralph had seen him through rose tinted spectacles, given the way he enthused over the man. Ralph always was a bit of a romantic, no matter how he’d insist on his being hard headed, so I’d underestimated how extraordinary Laurie would turn out to be. He’s got a huge presence of personality, almost a moral authority, and doesn’t seem to realise it at all.
Andrew: It was like meeting a unicorn?
Alec: Yes. What an extraordinary way of putting it, but yes.