Thursday, November 20, 2008

Saturday 1st August 1942

Tomorrow I start on the first stage of my journey towards the front – i.e. I go to Base Depot, Cairo.

Just now I am reading a true and terrifically graphic story of the Spanish Civil War, by Arthur Koestler. On tomorrow's journey however, I shall probably be reading a “crime thriller” which is in my haversack; a green and white Penguin book called “The Missing Moneylender” by one WS Sykes. It is depressing, if one let's it be, to be moving “further and further West” - into the DESERT, not into happiness! - so one is wise to cultivate a sense of detachment by means of a good mystery story.
“Dialogue with Death” is not the type of story to give one a sense of detachment – oh! hardly! - and a love story, if well written, also has the wrong effect. It is liable to raise sentimental longings and regrets...

A clever “thriller” however both soothes and stimulates and removes one's mind from he desert somewhat. Travelling Westwards, I've sometimes managed to keep my mind placidly aloof from war, right until the first bang! And afterwards! I can think of many occasions on which I've sat in a dug out, engrossed in gangsters and their bullets, whilst real-life lumps of metal flew around me!

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