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Artists at Sea
by Cassandra Solon-Parry 

      They were students of art. All of them had studied the history of art, or literature. So they were well qualified. They knew about decadence, the romantics, aesthetic values and the modernists. They were exactly aware of all the past that lay behind them, alternately illuminating for them the wonders of the world and casting long shadows over their own, comparatively insignificant lives. So it was not surprising that, right now, in a flat in Islington, they were arguing over their personal destinies. Being as full of life as they were they could still laugh and shout in the face of it all: 'I'm Virginia Woolf.'
      'No, I am!'
      'I'm Virginia Woolf!'
      'No, I'm fucking Virginia Woolf!'
      It was a party. Someone had suggested that they, all young and talented and fittingly located in Islington, where Virginia Woolf had herself once graced the fashionable streets, were like the next Bloomsbury Group. Soon their masterpieces would be unleashed upon the world and each would be recognized for his or her own undeniable, strange and tortured genius. The idea was immediately popular and the shout of dibs on who would get to be Virginia Woolf, undoubtedly the most widely known of the group, was taken up by all and rang through every room.
      These rooms made up part of one of the Highbury Mansions, once a very grand home with countless servants running up and down the stairs, and now a number of large flats, most of which were rented out to graduates, just arrived in the city, and with good starting salaries. It had large windows, and a balcony. The walls were still white and bare as the tenants had not been there for a very long time. There was a kind of electricity in the place, a buzz generated by the intense connections between the guests.
      All of them were confident. They carried themselves well. And they were dressed very well. They were, in all, very attractive. And they were attracted to one another. They admired one another and they so much enjoyed being with one another.
      It was this emotion that could be sensed whirring in the rooms of the Highbury apartment, and the feeling seemed pre-emptive, as though soon the lightening would strike, or the rain fall, or the thunder clap.

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