Of all the Tupper cronies, it is Sedgeweg, the Tewkeston ringer, you would want at your side if you were up a creek or in a snowdrift. He was such a reliable man. It was said of him once, rightly I think, that things hinged upon him. Of how many can that be said? Most of us are rarely given the chance to be hinges, and if we are there is the fear that we would not pass muster. That fear can in itself be corrosive, of our hingedness, before we have even set out upon the escapade or brouhaha in which we wish to play the hinge. But Sedgeweg did not know fear. It was alien to him. Once he was pitched, by a mini-madcap, into a pit of scorpions, and was insouciant. You may wonder how a Tewkeston chap could ever find himself in so unlikely a quandary, and wonder you may, until you do your homework. Remember, he was a crony of the Tuppers, by God the best of them! There were others, of course, some ringers but most not, and all have left their tracks, muddy or sleety or oddly magnetic. Sedgewegâ€™s tracks are â€“ were â€“ something else again. They had a patina of loucheness, even of abandon. They did not sit well with his everyday demeanour, which was forthright and unabandoned. The glint in the eye, the lack of fluff on the collar. When the whole of Tewkeston was on its uppers Sedgeweg did not crumple. And many did. Too many, if the histories are to be believed. Vinderâ€™s soccer coupons were exchanging hands for ludicrous sums, it was that bad. There were no longer any pigs on the pig farms, just bales of hay in fields, bales baled by Tupper at a time when he could still move his limbs. How easy to forget. Have ever so many tubs been thumped to so little purpose? Oh, there were portents. There were simply too many birds in the sky, swooping, cawing, beating their wings more urgently than birds usually do. Only Sedgeweg was prepared to don a polythene suit and descend into the chemical vats. Pregnant women cheered him on from behind a fence. Most of them were praying. You would have, too, no matter what your confession. Trucks pulled up. There was sludge in the piping. And grievous harm? No. Minor sprains, the odd broken wrist, some other injuries, that was all. It was enough.