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Out of mind

Dead Bessie makes me feel uneasy

By Paul Broks   May 2004

An Eric Ravilious print hangs on the wall of my study: Doctor Faustus Conjuring Mephostophilis. The scientist- sorcerer kneels at the centre of a pentacle clutching his heart; a naked Mephistopheles springs through a black doorway; the good angel and the evil angel duel in the shadows. Pausing from my work, I feel a strong, irrational impulse to move Bessie’s diary out of view of this diabolic scene. She would find it offensive. I resist.

Bessie Fenton’s little black book fits the palm of my hand. The spine is crumbling but the pages are sturdy and only a little yellowed.…

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