22.1.41

——- [1] is convinced, perhaps rightly, that the danger of the People’s Convention [2] racket is much underestimated and that one must fight back and not ignore it.  He says that thousands of simple-minded people are taken in by the appealing programme of the People’s Convention and do not realise that it is a defeatist manoeuvre intended to help Hitler.  He quoted a letter from the Dean of Canterbury [3] who said “I want you to understand that I am wholeheartedly for winning the war, and that I believe Winston Churchill to be the only possible leader for us till the war is over” (or words to that effect), and nevertheless supported the People’s Convention.  It appears that there are thousands like this.

Apropos of what —- says, it is at any rate a fact that the People’s Convention crew have raised a lot of money from somewhere.  Their posters are everywhere, also a lot of new ones from the Daily Worker.  The space has not been paid for, but even so the printing, etc., would cost a good deal.  Yesterday I ripped down a number of these posters, the first time I have ever done such a thing.  Cf. in the summer when I chalked up “Sack Chamberlain”, etc., and in Barcelona, after the suppression of the POUM, when I chalked up “Visca POUM”. [4]  At any normal time it is against my instincts to write on a wall or to interfere with what anyone else has written.

The onion shortage has made everyone intensely sensitive to the smell of onions.  A quarter of an onion shredded into a stew seems exceedingly strong,  E. the other day knew as soon as I kissed her that I had eaten onions some 6 hours earlier.

An instance of the sort of racketeering that goes on when any article whose price is not controlled becomes scarce – the price of alarm clocks.  The cheapest now obtainable are 15/- these the sort of rubbishy German-made clocks which used to sell for 3/6d.  The little tin French ones which used to be 5/- are now 18/6d, and all others at corresponding prices.

The Daily Express has used “blitz” as a verb.

This morning’s news – the defences of Tobruk pierced [5], and the Daily Worker suppressed [6].  Only very doubtfully pleased about the latter.

[1] Unidentified.

[2] The People’s Convention was organised in January 1941 by the Communists, ostensibly to fight for public rights, higher wages, better air-raid precautions, and friendship with the USSR, but some historians have said its true purpose was to agitate against the war effort.  In July 1941, after Russia’s entry into the war, it immediately called for a second front.  By 1942 its active work had ceased.

[3] The Very Reverend Hewlett Johnson (1874-1966), Dean of Canterbury, 1931-63, became known as ‘the Red Dean’ for his pro-Russian sympathies.  Among the books he wrote were The Socialist Sixth of the World, Soviet Strength, and Christians and Communism.  See also 913, n. 4.

[4] See Homage to Catalonia, CW, VI, 181.

[5] Tobruk fell to the British on 22 January 1941.  It was retaken, on 21 June 1942, by German forces under General Erwin Rommel (1891-1944), the brilliant commander of the Afrika Korps, 1941-43, and in northern France at the time of the Allied landings in 1944.

[6] Suppression lasted from 22 January 1941 to 6 September 1942. Peter Davison

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11 Responses to 22.1.41

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  2. George~~
    You say that “E. the other day knew as soon as I kissed her that I had eaten onions some 6 hours earlier.” Does this mean that the war has made onion breath a good thing?

  3. “…the sort of racketeering that goes on…”

    Well, George, you’ve finally woke up to the fact that war is a racket! I don’t know why you need an 18/6d French alarm clock or even a 15/- German one with all those bombs falling on you. I can hardly believe you actually manage to get much sleep.

    “War Is A Racket”: title of a paper by Major General Smedley Butler (US Army ret’d). Can by found via the ‘Poets Against War’ link on my blog if not elsewhere.

  4. German alarm clocks? Cowardly French alarm clocks? War is hell.

  5. Waiting for George I recently read “The Moon is Down” a small war novel by John Steinbeck. You can get through it in less than 2 hours so it’s my sort of book. Recommended.

  6. From the leave it to the capitalist swine department:
    From my operatives throughout the UK: sales of breath mints have soared.
    Rumor has it that Bourgeois Breath d’oignon was the scourge of the bunkers, so American Bankers sent boatloads of mints to capitalize on the misery of the population [but they sent no onions].

  7. No buzz about Japanese alarm clocks George? Maybe later in the year.

  8. Greg says:

    Keep them up all night with bombs, then jack up the price of alarm clocks! Clever Germans. I’m thinking the Chinese are making note of this nowadays.

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