Monday, October 06, 2008

Saturday 19th July 1941

7:45p.m. Cool, thank heavens. I've got some cigarettes, tobacco and matches. The flies aren't too bad right now. Maybe there'll be another cup of tea 'twixt now and dusk.

It's quiet on the switchboard. I am reading “Soldier's Pay” by William Faulkener. I've read it before. At Eastwoodbury I think. There was no war then and I wasn't a soldier. Ironically enough, when I lay the book down just now, I put it beside a little brown-covered book which had been carelessly put there when it got too hot to remain in my shirt pocket. (It made me sweat so, lying on my heart when it was hot, this afternoon.) So the tattered “Soldier's Pay” now rests beside my “ARMY BOOK 64. SOLDIERS' SERVICE AND PAY BOOK”.

That incident is hardly illustrative though. In “Soldier's Pay” one realises that the soldier's pay may be damn all, in the long anticipated aftermath, when he goes home in peace to 'a land fit for heroes”. However – Inshallah! Personally I can't believe that peace and safety and home can be disappointing. Whatever happened, there'd be so many little compensations – comforts – old friends and familiar places – refinements of civilisation – love – work – music and books – water and beer, milk, tea, wine...

Re the return to the loved one, “Soldier's Pay” is rather gloomy too! Extract:-

“But what makes you so sure that she will turn him down?”
“Why, I tell you I seen that letter: all the old bunk about Knights of the air and the romance of battle, that even the fat, crying ones outgrow as soon as the excitement is over and uniforms and being wounded 'aint only not stylish no more but it is troublesome.”


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