Edward Judge looked forward to his morning constitutional along to the Reading Room opposite The George. It had become quite a home from home for him and his fellow village husbands who were no longer obliged to labour with their hands or their brains in order to earn their daily crust. The most uxorious of men needed to assert their independent interests outside the home (especially with all this suffragette nonsense) and it had become the agreeable custom to meet and exchange views in a place where no one would object if a fellow wanted to smoke a cigar or a pipe.
With this war on, it was becoming quite an important little gathering. The general view was that it was perfectly all right to leave the management of the village to the new 1parish council, so long as one or two of them sat on it and the decisions of the council were decided in advance by the Reading Room fraternity.
The problem about this, however, was brilliantly summed up by this morning’s cartoon in ‘The Daily Mirror’ (not that he would ever have such a rag in his own house – but the Reading Room had copies of most newspapers). Saloon strategists were the bane of all masculine gatherings, and simply had to be borne with gritted teeth.
1 The 1894 Local Government Act had introduced elected parish councils throughout the United Kingdom. In village terms, a constitutional change which is only 20 years old is (still) considered new.