8.12.40

Broadcasting the night before last. . . . Met there a Pole who has only recently escaped from Poland by some underground route he would not disclose. . . . He said that in the siege of Warsaw 95 per cent of the houses were damaged and about 25 per cent demolished.  All services, electricity, water, etc., broke down, and towards the end people had no defence whatever against the aeroplanes and, what was worse, the artillery.  He described people rushing out to cut bits off a horse killed by shell-fire, then being driven back by fresh shells, then rushing out again.  When Warsaw was completely cut off the people were upheld by the belief that the English were coming to help them, rumours all the while of an English army in Danzig, etc. etc. . .

The story going round about a week back was that the report in the papers to the effect that the Italian commander in Albania had shot himself was due to a misprint.

During the bad period of the bombing, when everyone was semi-insane, not so much from the bombing itself as from broken sleep, interrupted telephone calls, the difficulty of communications, etc., etc., I found that scraps of nonsense poetry were constantly coming into my mind.  They never got beyond a line or two and the tendency stopped when the bombing slacked off, but examples were: -

An old Rumanian peasant
Who lived at Mornington Crescent

and

And the key doesn’t fit and the bell doesn’t ring,
But we all stand up for God save the King [1]

and

When the Borough Surveyor has gone to roost
On his rod, his pole or his perch.

[1]  See the reference in ‘My Country Right or Left’ to people being mildly shocked by ridiculing royalty, 694. Peter Davison

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27 Responses to 8.12.40

  1. andrew says:

    eric, what were you broadcasting?

  2. @andrew

    It was ‘The Proletarian Writer’, with Desmond Hawkins on the BBC Home Service. You can read a script at http://theorwellprize.co.uk/george-orwell/by-orwell/essays-and-other-works/the-proletarian-writer/.

  3. Thank you very much, orwelldiaries.

    George~~
    You said, “The reason why I am doubtful of the whole conception [of proletarian literature] is that I don’t believe the proletariat can create an independent literature while they are not the dominant class. I believe that their literature is and must be bourgeois literature with a slightly different slant.”

    Therefore, in order to be promoted to the next level [bourgeoisie], a proletarian simply needs to write some literature? Wouldn’t this instantly transform them from the darlings of Marxism to its archenemies?

  4. andrew says:

    OD, thanks!

    JL3, that’s the idea – proles that have truly started literating aren’t /really/ proles anymore, they’ve become OP members. other literating proles are just imitating past generations of OP literature.

  5. max says:

    Why can’t we do what conceptual artists do – in pointing to a pissoir and pronouncing ‘That’s art!’ – by pointing to certain pieces of writing and pronouncing ‘That’s proletarian literature!’?

  6. 10.12.40:

  7. 11.12.40:
    An Illingworth cartoon from today’s Daily Mail:
    http://bit.ly/e6rwmA

  8. George~~
    Here’s a heads up:
    One year from today on Thursday, 11.12.41, Adolph Hitler and his homeboy Benito Mussolini will declare war on the United States of America in support of their homeboy Japan who attacked Pearl Harbor last week.

    Hint:
    It doesn’t turn out well for them.

  9. Humorous, yet Nebulous, Ephemera:
    “The story going round about a week back was that the report in the papers to the effect that the Italian commander in Albania had shot himself was due to a misprint.”

  10. Barry Larking says:

    “George~~
    Here’s a heads up:
    One year from today on Thursday, 11.12.41, Adolph Hitler and his homeboy Benito Mussolini will declare war on the United States of America in support of their homeboy Japan who attacked Pearl Harbor last week.”

    Yes. News travelled very slowly in those days.

  11. “Animal Farm”, first British animated feature released worldwide (1954):

    BBC Television’s live production of George Orwell’s “1984” (also 1954):

  12. Barry Larking says:

    “BBC Television’s live production of George Orwell’s “1984″ (also 1954):”

    I watched this on a 12 inch black and white television. I remember the rats. The much missed Peter Cushing played Winston Smith – that too I remember.

  13. Stephen says:

    Who said the South Americans invested fantastic realism? George’s post is about as surreal as you can get: the horse meat story reads like an animated cartoon, the Albanian suicide is slapstick, and the poetry is wonderful nonsense.

  14. George~~
    I found your usage of “semi-insane” intellectually stimulating.

  15. “escaped from Poland by some underground route he wouldn’t disclose”

    George, it’s a secret you see. Careless talk costs lives.

  16. 19.12.40
    The National Archives
    V.—British Broadcasts.
    13. One of the mistakes of British propaganda consists in contrasting the loyalty of the former French Ministers, whose incapacity, corruption and fanaticism are to a large extent the cause of the French disaster, with the bad faith of the new Ministers (with the exception of Laval), who are not personally responsible for the disaster, being new men, although they have to bear its immediate consequences. Whatever happens, the French should not be given the impression that the British would return to power the tarnished men of the Front Populaire. This is a frequent objection, particularly in bourgeois circles. The great criticism of England made by the majority of Frenchmen is not that she) was so extraordinarily slow in transforming herself into a war machine; it is that she financed the 1936 elections, which brought Blum and the Front Populaire to power. The Front Populaire literally made France rotten, and if the popula­tion of London is severely bombed, they owe it in large part to their so-called friends, who undermined the moral and spiritual forces of France.

  17. We have so far received assurances in writing from the Vichy Govern­ment that they are determined to retain control of their colonial Empire and Fleet, and that they will not take the initiative in attacking us. Beyond this it may be difficult for the Vichy Government to engage themselves on paper, since they must be careful in their correspondence with us to avoid rousing German suspicions.

  18. Pingback: Indignant Desert Birds » Sunday Morning Reading Material: Third Sunday in December

  19. andrew says:

    Eric-

    I hardly think this qualifies as a “diary”. You are getting lazy. Count raindrops or dried leaves or something.

  20. andrew says:

    okay, how about this one:

    An old Rumanian peasant
    Who lived at Mornington Crescent
    He ate up the cheese
    And gave the dog fleas
    This rhyme has become quite adolescent

  21. andrew says:

    JL3, that was a very sad story…

  22. M G says:

    Merry Christmas George!

    PS The first rule of internet blogging is keep regular updates otherwise people lose interest and eventually stop visiting.

  23. CAL says:

    JL3, I agree that it was a sad story, but Eileen must have been a clever, fascinating person. Reading those bits from her letters gave me a better understanding of their marriage.

  24. Merry Christmas, everyone, and may God Bless You and Yours.

    Here are some Nazi Winter Solstice Pics for your perusal. (There seems to be some debate as to the year these were taken but that doesn’t make them any less creepy.)

  25. and maybe top of the Nazi hit parade:
    ‘Yule never talk alone’

  26. Hi George,
    Today wrote a poem about the looming war in Africa – it’s called “Another World Cruise”. Gotta give these folks something to read :)

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