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John Rowland

Time for Killing

Herbert Jenkins 1950
Jacket by Seymour Stanley

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COLNETT STILL calls itself a village. Fifty years ago the description was probably just, but nowadays the place is actually a kind of outer dormitory suburb of London, and its inhabitants mainly the kind of business men who like to refer to "my place in the country," although they may travel to the city every morning at 9.12 and come home every evening at 5.38. It is not difficult to see that the bright village in Hertfordshire, before the red rash of brick spread across the fields, might have been a pleasant little place. And the " Black Horse," which was a bright little country pub, must have been an attraction until one of the big hotel companies pulled it down and rebuilt it on grandiose lines, proceeding to let its bedrooms to tired Londoners wanting a week-end in the country without the trouble and difficulty of a long journey. The " Black Horse," however, in some strange way, managed to preserve something of the country pub atmosphere—possibly because the suburban snobbery which was Colnett's most typical attitude of mind was less in evidence in the saloon bar than outside the pub's hospitable walls. The remarkable events which struck Golnett must, therefore, be regarded to some extent from the angle of the habitues of the " Black Horse "—partly because that select company was involved in the events from the start, and partly because the background of them had less effect on the beer-drinking public of Golnett than on those who preferred a tot of whisky or port in the privacy or secrecy of their own homes.

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