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Full text of "Laughing Torso"

WAR
had a strange tower and sort of folly, built by some
old gentleman under the influence of a strange
emotion. I sat on a tombstone and wished I were
inside. Outside my window I could see a large,
rather modern building. It was the G. B. Corset
Manufactory, and had some trees beside it. I
painted a picture of it from my room and sold it a
few days later to the art dealer who had bought
Walter Sickert's paintings from the shelf. I left
Bath and returned to London.
Sickert was the Professor of Art at the Westminster
Technical Institute. One day he decided to retire,
and asked me if I would teach the evening-class
there. He and Augustus John recommended me to
the committee and I got the job. The class con-
sisted of five students when I arrived. They were as
much frightened of me as I was of them. I wore a
large grey hat pulled over my eyes which I never
took off. I had to engage the models. A small girl
and her brother came and sat for me and also a
large and very fat woman. After several weeks I
had thirty students, including five tough Australian
soldiers, who were very serious and always kept
cigarettes behind their ears. I used to ask them to
tea, two at a time. They were very simple-minded
and unspoilt. I knew another Australian at that
time and he used to meet me after the class was
finished, in Victoria Street, and take me out to a
meal. I did not introduce him to my students as
I thought it might create a bad impression of
frivolity. My Australian wrote plays. He took me
out to dinner, sometimes to Frascati's and the
...   .  .                ' '  :     ' '. - ;   III      .     '-.." .',.     .      '.. . "   '' "^''