Sunday, 26 September 2010

A weighty wait


Confined to bed just now for much of the day, waiting for recovery, I've been trying to catch up on some reading. Lyn Macdonald's 1915: The Death Of Innocence, her lively account of the second year of World War I, has been top of the bedside table pile for some days. I can only take it in short bursts, not only because the narrative is so dense but because the book's so heavy and, lying on my back, I have to hold it awkwardly above my head.

It's not the only history of WWI that I've ever read, and like everyone else I'm familiar with the waste, the slaughter, the shamefully deficient leadership, military and political, the idiocy, the pointlessness of it all and so on. And, in my dreadful vanity, how different things might have been if I'd been there.

I read each unfolding chapter with a kind of breath-holding hope at the possibility that before the chapter's end it may all turn out differently, that there will be no casualties, the generals will have been justified, and everyone will come home whistling happily. It's never the case, of course. And yet that hope persists. I wonder why.


[Finding it hard to sit at the computer for very long, I'm afraid I've fallen badly behind with visiting everyone. I'm sorry. I'll try and catch up as soon as I can.]

9 comments:

Vicus Scurra said...

Try to read something more joyful, it may aid your recovery. Looking forward to the restoration of your health.

Z said...

I'm not sure that I can bear to read any more books about war. Too many wars, I can't take it any more. And fictional books set in Edwardian England which go on into the teenage years of the 20th century, you can spot a mile off which are the young men that the author plans to kill off. Sometimes, a dearly-loved son is only born for his poignant death. I can't take any more of it.

I'm sorry you're still in pain, dear. In case good wishes might help, I will concentrate on sending them to you all day tomorrow.

Dave said...

Have you read her book about nurses in WWI? ('The Roses of No-Man's Land') - slightly less heavy and an interesting light on a less-covered area.

I'm told a Kindle makes book-reading in bed less of a weight burden. I'm toying with buying one.

Rog said...

I had an intelligent and constructive suggestion regarding the new medical thinking that movement is better for bad backs than rest, then Dave goes and plants an image of himself "toying with his Kindle" in bed!

(Also you missed my post on choral singing last Thursday but it was only a cultural blip.)

Sarah said...

I'm suprised you haven't rigged up some Heath Robinson styleee contraption to aid your reading. I did look for an illustration but couldn't find one. Obviously a gap in the market !

Christopher said...

Vicus: You're quite right. On, on to Blandings Castle.

Z: Thank you so much. It might be beginning to work!

Dave: a) Not yet b) I'd thought of that too, but hesitate to take the plunge.

Rog: Sorry to have missed out last Thursday, a bad day. I've made up for it now, though. Thanks very much. At one time I thought of taking my choir through Whitacre's 'Sleep', but there are only 8-9 of us, not enough individual voices and not enough to produce that dreamy floaty sound his virtual choirs make.

Sah: Yes, that's what I need.

Geoff said...

We spent an awful lot of time in English lessons at school on literature from the First World War but none from the second. And having two grandfathers fighting in the First but no relations fighting in the Second I feel closer to the earlier war.

Get better soon, Christopher.

mig said...

How about one of these?

Christopher said...

Geoff: Thanks. I'm doing my best, partly thanks to...

...mig. Thanks for the suggestion. (An infinitely adjustable reading desk with automatic page-turner.) I looked at the price - about £250 - and felt better at once.