Thursday, August 16, 2018

Archivarin: "her mind was a miracle of minutiae"

Ich bin vor kurzem auf die britische Kalter-Krieg-Krimi-Reihe "A very English mystery" von Elizabeth Edmondson gestoßen und lese derzeit nach "A man of some repute" den zweiten Band "A Question of Inheritance". Darin kommt eine Archivarin vor :-) Die männliche Hauptfigur, Hugo Hawksworth, arbeitet beim britischen Geheimdienst. Nach einer schweren Verletzung kann er nicht mehr im Außendienst arbeiten, sondern wird beauftragt, mögliche Verräter anhand von Akten im Archiv zu identifizieren: "Essentially, you'll be going through old files, looking for anomalies. Things in a chap's record that don't ring true or don't match up. I want you to take a long hard look at missions that failed. Find patterns, check the facts, worm out the truth, dig up the history", ordnet sein Vorgesetzter an. Eine Aufgabe, die ihm zunächst gar nicht zusagt ("I'm damned if I'm going to moulder away among a heap of files"), die er aber doch annimmt. Unterstützt wird er dabei jedenfalls von der Archivarin Mrs Clutton.

paraphernalia meticulously preserved and filed

So Hugo, amused as always by Sir Bernard in commanding mode, had hidden a grin and gone off to find Mrs Clutton, the Archivist who worked as his assistant. She, as always, had been one step ahead of him, and several files were already on his desk, flagged with her comments and notes. Her mind was a miracle of minutiae with everything indexed and cross-referenced on cards stored in narrow wooden drawers in her office. Her capacious memory linked people and places and events in a way that Hugo found extraordinary. Mrs Clutton could probably do his job better than he did, he reflected, as he opened the first of the files. (...) Letters, telegrams, secret messages from embassies. Photographs of places, some of them reduced to ruins during the war. Photographs of people, strangers smiling into the camera or caught unawares. Typed reports on flimsy paper, handwritten notes; all the paraphernalia meticulously preserved and filed by Mrs Clutton.

eager attentiveness of a truffle hound

Als Hugo Zeitungsartikel zu einem bestimmten Fall sucht:

Mrs Clutton was, as usual, standing in front of her rack of index cards, sorting with nimble fingers. 'Do we still keep old newspapers at the Hall?' he asked. Mrs Clutton looked round in surprise. She pushed a drawer back in its place and said, 'Such as the back copies of The Times? We do. There's a plan afoot to get rid of them, London saying there's no need for us to have duplicate copies here, but we're fighting them. I don't want to have to ask Archives every time I need to look something up in a newspaper, thank you. Is there anything in particular you're looking for?' (...) Mrs Clutton's face took on the eager attentiveness of a truffle hound who has just spotted a fine example of that delectable root under a tree. 'I do indeed remember the case. Would you like me to go and find the relevant newspapers?' She hardly waited for an answer but was off out of the room.

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