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Motorbike Men

really had to get away from the pressures of his research work in Oxfordshire, where
he lived in digs. The Battersea flat did not have a bad outlook across the park, and he
could see the bridge if he leant over his balcony. That, in turn, provided him with
more than enough gardening, all of it in pots. He kept the apartment clean and tidy,
and mostly cooked for himself when he was there. He enjoyed that, and didn’t often
eat out anywhere unless he was abroad on business or away from home for some
other reason. He was no bother to his neighbours, so they said, but this was not
altogether surprising as he was rarely there.
He had never got on with his brother. Even though they were identical twins,
they were as different as chalk from cheese. Jack had done well at school, and his
brother Roger hadn’t. Roger appeared not to care about learning anything worthwhile,
and never made the slightest effort. Which was why, quite early on at Grammar
School, they had been separated into different classes. Brother Roger was not the least
impressed by the efforts and achievements of his twin, although the school’s teachers
had thought that a bit of peer pressure, especially from a twin brother, might spur him
into making something of an effort, if only for the sake of appearances. But that
theory didn’t work, and he hadn’t even tried to do well – at anything. He had never
shown the slightest interest in sport, although he was required, unless he really was ill,
to play ‘rough and muddy rugby’ during the winter, and ‘boring cricket’ in the
summer. Roger’s scholarly brother, Jack, on the other hand, had represented the
school at cricket, rugby and, later badminton, too. A fellow classmate had once
managed to break Roger’s nose during a particularly awful game of rugby, and an
opposition batsman had square-cut a ball at cricket one Wednesday afternoon and
loosened two of Roger’s front teeth for him while he had been thinking of something
else. All of which resulted in he and his brother continuing to look like two peas in a
pod.
The plain fact of the matter was that Roger had simply idled his way through
every aspect of school life, and couldn’t leave soon enough – a view eventually
shared by his headmaster. The brothers were certainly not identical twins, except in
appearance. Had they been closer, they could have played havoc everywhere they
went. But they chose to keep their distance from one another, and the older they got,
the greater became the distance between them.
So, it was no great surprise to their parents, although an ongoing
disappointment until the day they died, when Roger Barclay had joined the local bank
as a junior clerk, without even waiting for his ‘O’ level results. In the event, they were
as disappointing as everyone expected, and not worth waiting for anyway.
Brother Jack, meanwhile, had gone up to Oxford, done remarkably well, and
continued to succeed in his chosen career as a mathematician and research scientist in
particle physics. His reputation went before him, and his services were soon in
demand. Oxford wanted him to stay on to tutor after he had achieved his doctorate,
and the Americans were even now trying to entice him to work for them. But he had
elected to stay in the UK, and to work for the Atomic Energy Authority, although he
had rejected approaches to help develop new and ever more devastating weapons. He
was convinced that the power of the atom should be put to the future good of
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