I’m reading Frederick Isham’s novel Three Live Ghosts (significantly different from the play version that I wrote about some time ago). In it, three soldiers, listed as missing, believed dead, return, having been prisoners in Germany. Each of them has his own reasons for not revealing that he is still alive, and the three of them spend a cold and hungry night sleeping rough in “the delectable green… alongside of which, by day, bustles Picadilly’s swift traffic, and near which, overlooking it benignly- arises the stately palace of royalty.”
Isham goes on to explain that:
Here the bobbies were wont to suffer wandering vagrants (like themselves) to rest in peace, with no more ungentle company than the sheep, fat and succulent-looking creatures that were a constant aggravation to pinched appetites, suggesting visions of chops, steaks and roasts. Such bisected parts rolled up to you on a platter, or deliciously grilled, were the subject of discussion between Jimmie and the American, early the next morning…
Now this, of course, is the park through which Mrs Dalloway will take her early morning stroll a year or so later. Yet – unless I am mistaken, and I’ll have to check – Mrs D never sees the sheep. Alert as she is to the fleeting impressions of the morning, and to the connotations of well-known sights and sounds, she does not notice these “fat and succulent-looking creatures” chomping the grass of the park. Perhaps she just wasn’t hungry enough.