Thursday, July 06, 2006

We’re back, tired, dirty and happy. The gansey is just about ready to divide for the armholes.


Sherry, the new email address that I’m playing with has many puzzling features. Please write again to

Kate, that is an exciting suggestion indeed about a possible reference to Kitchener stitch in “Rilla of Ingleside”. I used to be an Anne fan, although I don’t think I ever got beyond “Green Gables” and “Avonlea”. I’ll get hold of that one. A Canadian source is exactly where one would expect to find it.

But VKB’s, gardening, ganseys and all will have to wait, this morning. Here follows a rant.

The English Patient

I have been reading this well-known book in the country. I didn’t like it much. It is too poetic for my taste.

In the summer of 1945, three characters, left behind by the war, are scratching a living in the ruins of an Italian castello. A fourth character is a sapper (bomb-defuser) in the British army, whose job is to tidy up after the Germans. He lives in a tent in the garden.

At the climax of the book, the sapper hears on his shortwave radio of the bombing of Hiroshima. When he tells the others, they are all immediately gifted with foresight about the fate of Nagasaki. The text, in fact, suggests that both cities were bombed on the same day. I am sure that the author knows better than that. That must be part of the poetry. I found it irritating.

However, that’s not the subject of my rant. It is this. The sapper is a Sikh, a thoughtful and intelligent man. He goes berserk when he hears the news, because “they would never have dropped such a bomb on a white nation.” His berserk-ness brings the book to its end.

That’s rubbish. There are moral issues to be discussed about the bombing of Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, and, indeed, Dresden – but racism is not among them. If the Allies had got the Bomb while Germany was still in the tournament, Churchill would have wanted to use it against them. If Hitler's scientists had got there first, he would have nuke'd London, no doubt about that. It was used against the Japanese to shorten a war which would otherwise have taken many more months, and many more lives.

My husband was serving as a paratrooper in the Far East at the time, preparing to drop on Singapore. He has always credited the Bomb with saving his life.

We are still reading Churchill’s Second World War at bedtime. We’re near the end – Normandy has been invaded, Rome and Paris are free, London is suffering from buzz bombs. It will be interesting to learn what he has to say about Dresden, and about Hiroshima.

But if you want a novel set in that summer of ’45, with a moral connected to the Bomb, go for Muriel Spark and “The Girls of Slender Means”. There's a good book.

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