The money situation is becoming completely unbearable. . . . Wrote a long letter to the Income Tax[1] people pointing out that the war had practically put an end to my livelihood while at the same time the government refused to give me any kind of a job. The fact which is really relevant to a writer’s position, the impossibility of writing books with this nightmare going on, would have no weight officially. . . . Towards the government I feel no scruples and would dodge paying the tax if I could. Yet I would give my life for England readily enough, if I thought it necessary. No one is patriotic about taxes.

No real news for days past. Only air battles, in which, if the reports are true, the British always score heavily. I wish I could talk to some R.A.F. officer and get some kind of idea whether these reports are truthful[2].

[1] The fact that Orwell was being pressed for income tax is of interest in the light of his near-poverty in the thirties. In 1939 only some twenty percent of the population paid income tax (see Dearden Farrow, 19.2.85). Orwell’s difficulties, common to writers, actors, and others, may have been caused by higher earnings in an earlier year (for example, royalties for The Road to Wigan Pier) and because Eileen’s earnings would then, for tax, be treated as his.

[2] Fewer planes were actually shot down than British and German air forces claimed at the time. On 14 August the Royal Air Force claimed to have shot down 144 German planes; this was revised to 71 after the war, when German records could be examined. On that day, the RAF lost 16 planes, but eight pilots were saved. On 15 September 185 German planes were claimed; this proved to be 56; 26 RAF planes were lost, but half the pilots were rescued. This was the largest number claimed for any day of the Battle of Britain. From July to the end of October, the claim was 2,698 German planes shot down; the correct number was 1,733. The Germans claimed 3,058 RAF planes, but only 915 were lost. To what extent this was deliberate official exaggeration and to what degree overenthusiastic reporting by pilots is difficult to assess. Peter Davison

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28 Responses to 9.8.40

  1. The Ridger says:

    How little things change! Casualty counts are always, it seems, exaggerated. You kill more of them than they ever had in uniform…

  2. Pingback: Airminded · Post-blogging 1940

  3. Barry Larking says:

    The claims were not so much propaganda as mis-reporting and or interpretation of pilot debriefings in the heat of battle and on both sides. It was still certainly a remarkable number of aircraft for the R.A.F. to have destroyed. The reason for this success was mainly due to Dowding’s planning the first co-ordinated national air defence system. He had little support from his juniors who schemed against him shamelessly. In his memoirs Prof. R.V. Jones writes well on this period of the ‘Battle of Britain’. Dowding refused to send planes to France before Dunkirk and in doing so went against Churchill, never a man to ‘misundersetimate’ his own military genius. Dowding was later side lined. Orwell did get to speak to people in the know afterwards.

  4. Phil Barker says:

    “No real news for days past. Only air battles,…” Well, that’s the Battle of Britain dealt with then.

  5. jhameac says:

    Per log entry 8/8/40: “a ‘Bolshevik’ revolution, which from the point of view of the governing class is much worse than defeat.”

    Per log entry 8/9/40, “Towards the government I feel no scruples and would dodge paying the tax if I could.”

    Is that towards *this* government you feel no scruples in avoiding taxes, George, or is toward governments in general you feel no such scruples? Do even pure communists resent taxes, and is there always a sense someone else, i.e. not me, owes their share for the common good, i.e. my good? Keep you hand off of my slice, George.

    My sense reading this journal the past few years is that he has distaste for the governing class no matter what color their flag. Like Jefferson he would advocate a continual revolution re-nourished in blood, and doesn’t begrudge his share of it, i.e. “Yet I would give my life for England readily enough.”

  6. jhameac~~


    Bolshevism! He saw it every time he looked in the mirror. Revolution for its own sake wherein endless rivers of blood must flow until only the last [non-Stalinist socialist] native(s) of Britain is(are) left standing, having dismantled the world.

    He was, however, quite adept at watching people as they work and criticizing any and all governments, politicians and the military.

  7. Max says:

    Tut, tut! The ghost of McCarthy walks again. Someone, it seems, would have been happy to stand Orwell up against a wall and shoot him out of hand. Anyone else here in favour?g

  8. Steve says:

    Has anyone here read “The Man Who Was Thursday” by GK Chesterton? It was published in 1908, but EB/GO would have been quite familiar with it. He didn’t invent these attitudes, to say the least.

  9. jhameac says:

    Steve – great reference! I am going to reread TMWWT tonight!

  10. Barry Larking says:


    The comments you refer to, by implication if not directly, are if anything not so much “McCarthyite” as “Palinesque”. I feel some are reading across Orwell not with him.


    Anyone writing spontaneously rather than for publication will contradict themselves. Normal people ‘sound off’ occasionally and then reflect in silence.

    What he was doing was trying to find a political position which was free from the self-serving “We are fighting for Freedom” – but not Indian freedom obviously; nor “We are fighting for the workers” having seen at first hand how the champions of the proletariat operated in Spain. The Right were a wretched bunch undoubtedly, but the official Left were no better. Where did that leave people like Orwell who wanted the war to lead somewhere and as yet could see nothing on offer except to restore the European “coolie empires” – again witnessed first hand.

    No news means ‘no political news’. Orwell feared a compromise peace deal with Hitler.

    “[I]f the reports are true” is his scrupulous mind working. With every reason to hope these reports were truthful he nevertheless needs to hold to some objective standards.

  11. Generally speaking, my comments try to depict the images George’s Blog and his contemporaneous writings generate in my impressionistic organs.

    McCarthy became an epithet synonymous with judgementalism at some point in time and now, apparently, so has Palin—this would make their use as epithets counter-intuitive, I should think—I make no judgements; I observe.

    Orwell was all for destroying Hitler. He was ferociously anti-anybody that had Britain in their sights. Nevertheless, he has stated more than once that this might be a good time [circa Battle of Britain] for the socialist [non-Stalinist] revolution to begin.

    I can’t help but wonder if Eric Blair ever read Utopia (1516) by Sir Thomas More and, if so, how many times?

  12. max says:

    ‘Revolution for its own sake wherein endless rivers of blood must flow until only the last [non-Stalinist socialist] native(s) of Britain is(are) left standing, having dismantled the world.’

    Oh, gosh! Is that really what George was arguing for? I hadn’t realized. It’s enough to put you off the man forever. Imagine all those deluded fools out there who think he stood for decency, sanity and good-humoured
    fellowship. Now they’ve been taught better they must be feeling complete and utter idiots.

    The needle, Watson!

  13. Ah. The old “use my own words against me” gambit, eh?

    I don’t have a clue as to Orwell’s motivations for his ideological musings. I apologize for inferring [by repetition] that my snap-shot impression of this fleeting musing was a depiction of an Actual Orwell Musing. There’s no need for me to repeat it.

    I’m listening to The Mercury Radio Theatre production of The Man Who Was Thursday [September, 1938].

    I will now parry right and release a barrage of questions once asked by a person named Syme, “Why does each thing on the earth war against each other thing? Why does each small thing in the world have to fight against the world itself? Why does a fly have to fight the whole universe? Why does a dandelion have to fight the whole universe?”

  14. Steve says:

    My point exactly: 112 years after Syme asked his questions, there’s still no answer.

    Where did you find the Mercury Radio Theatre production of MHWWT?

  15. Max says:

    Now we’re getting to the heart of it – conflict theory! A spectre is haunting this website. Are you or have you ever been a member of the conflict theory party?

  16. Barry Larking says:

    Some years ago Thomas Pynchon wrote an essay reproduced in the Guardian’s Saturday Review in which he claimed that Orwell believed in 1945 that the Labour Party entering some fascist or pre-fascist condition. Orwell believed no such thing and even a cursory reading of his contemporary work would demonstrate this. The Guardian was kind enough to publish my short refutation. Orwell had by that time come to dislike organised anything but that did not mean he denied socially progressive politics – an easy mistake to make since ‘Animal Farm’ and evenmoreso ‘1984’ recreate in different ways far from optimistic pictures of communal life. In a letter to a troubled American reader written on what was his death bed Orwell outlined his views succinctly. These went beyond the ‘pale pink’ policy, as he saw it of Attlee’s Labour administration, in their thorough-going anti-colonialism abroad and ending of privilege and pomp and circumstance at home.

    ‘1984’ often blinds people to Orwell’s views who know him chiefly by this one book. Since he died so soon afterwards he was not able to clarify what he was trying to achieve in it, partly dogging the footsteps of H.G. Wells, hero of his youth and partly imitating his other strong influences, Zemayatin and, distantly, Jack London. In it he seems to have indulged his pessimism with relish; there is no echo of this mood in the essays and letters written consecutively with the book. If anything in these he seems to have been exultant and magnanimous; exultant at his own survival and in his treatment of the defeated generous and humane without relinquishing his clear sighted opposition to tyranny, not least British Imperialism. This is why he is so worthwhile to read.

    Since shortly after his death Orwell has been recruited by people who have either not read him or not understood him. Few other writer’s have made themselves more plain however, or to such good effect. He is worth quoting. He has nevertheless been quoted out of context by John Major and now finds himself today used to endorse political views as far removed from his opinions as it is possible to imagine. Distance nor time cannot be solely to blame. Opportunism plays a part. It was something he noted himself about other writer’s work.

    I should add that, I suppose in common with many, I enjoy and appreciate JamesonLewis3rd’ comments, eccentric or otherwise.

  17. http://www.mercurytheatre.info/

    Using skills I acquired as an avid watcher of NUMB3ERS, I have uncovered a visual aid, in the form of a graph, depicting Conflict Theory. Using my impressionist calculator, this theory can be summed up in the equation: 2 + 2 = 5.

  18. George Orwell was not the Monty Python of his time; he was more like Claude Monet.

    I’ve chosen not to re-read 1984 until the end of our sojourn here. I see this as the only way to get into Orwell’s head with maximum propulsion.

    My current reading is still The Lion and the Unicorn which will be published early next year. It is very exciting, written in real time as bombs fall.

  19. Max says:

    Don’t worry about the bombs, George. The Fifth Cavalry will be galloping to the rescue at er – any moment now. Mr Cameron said so!

  20. jhameac says:

    Notes from THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY (1)

    This from http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/kit-and-caboodle.html

    The words kit and caboodle have rather similar meanings:

    A kit – is set of objects, as in a toolkit, or what a soldier would put in his kit-bag.
    A caboodle (or boodle) – is an archaic term meaning group or collection, usually of people.

    ‘The Origin of Boodle’, from The Dunkirk Observer-Journal, New York, September 1888:

    “It is probably derived from the Old-English word bottel, a bunch or a bundle, as a bottel of straw. “The whole kit and boodle of them” is a New England expression in common use, and the word in this sense means the whole lot. Latterly, boodle has come to be somewhat synonymous with the word pile, the term in use at the gaming table, and signifying a quantity of money. In the gaming sense, when a man has “lost his boodle”, he has lost his pile or whole lot of money, whatever amount he happened to have with him.”

    What we can’t confirm is that the word caboodle migrated from boodle in order to sound better when matched with kit. It is possible that that’s what happened, but the dates of the known citations don’t support it. Whole kit and caboodle, (1884) is recorded before whole kit and boodle, (1888) and whole caboodle comes well before both, in 1848. Perhaps that’s just the inadequacy or either records or research and that citations with the appropriate dates will emerge later.

  21. jhameac says:

    Notes from THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY (2)

    This from our wikipedia:

    Timothy Michael Healy, KC (17 May 1855 – 26 March 1931), also known as Tim Healy, was an Irish nationalist politician, journalist, author, barrister and one of the most controversial Irish Members of Parliament (MPs) in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. His political career began in the 1880s under Charles Stewart Parnell’s leadership of the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), and continued into the 1920s, when he was the first Governor-General of the Irish Free State.

    …Initially a passionate supporter of Parnell, he became disenchanted with his leader after the first clash occurred in 1886 when Healy opposed Parnell’s party nominee to stand for Galway City, a Captain William O’Shea. At the time O’Shea was separated from his wife, Katharine O’Shea, with whom Parnell was living in relationship. Only when Parnell unexpectedly turned up in Galway to back O’Shea, did Healy on this occasion give way for O’Shea to be elected.

    …When Parnell asked his colleagues at one party meeting “Who is the master of the party?”, Healy famously retorted with another question “Aye, but who is the mistress of the party?” – a comment which almost led him to come to blows with Parnell. His savage onslaught in public reflected his conservative Catholic origins and the relative immaturity of his mid-thirties, as he revengefully destroyed a wealthy Protestant squire. He was additionally vulgar and abusive towards Mrs. O’Shea. A substantial minority of the Irish people never forgave him for this role during the divorce crisis, permanently damaging his own standing in Irish public life. The rift prompted a nine-year old Dublin schoolboy, James Joyce, to pen a poem called Et Tu, Healy?.

  22. jhameac says:

    Notes from THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY (3)

    This from our wikipedia:

    Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton PC (25 May 1803 – 18 January 1873), was an English politician, poet, playwright, and prolific novelist. He was immensely popular with the reading public and wrote a stream of bestselling novels which earned him a considerable fortune. But, like many authors of the period, his style seems florid and embellished [citation needed] to modern tastes. He coined the phrases “the great unwashed”, “pursuit of the almighty dollar”, “the pen is mightier than the sword”, and the famous opening line “It was a dark and stormy night”.

    And also, and more importantly, this:

    San Jose State University’s Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is for the worst possible opening line for a novel. Entrants don’t have to actually write the novel — just the first line. Here’s this year’s (2010) winning sentence by Molly Ringle of Seattle:

    For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity’s affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss–a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity’s mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world’s thirstiest gerbil.

  23. The geezer said, “I say, one cannot help but wonder if Molly hasn’t been spending too much time with her ger-r-r-rbil-l-l. What!?!”

    George Orwell said: England is a family with the wrong members in control.

    Later, he said: Compared with the task of bringing the real England to the surface, even the winning of the war, necessary though it is, is secondary. By revolution we become more ourselves, not less. There is no question of stopping short, striking a compromise, salvaging “democracy”, standing still. Nothing ever stands still. We must add to our heritage or lose it, we must grow greater or grow less, we must go forward or backward. I believe in England, and I believe that we shall go forward.

  24. Steve says:

    Molly Ringle of Seattle is also known as Molly Ringwraith, writer of parodies of such great later 20th Century British fiction as the Lord of the Ring series and the Harry Potter series. Their original authors, of course, would have been very familiar with The Man Who Was Thursday. Just checked to see if Molly R. has done 1984. She has not.

  25. We cannot be utterly defeated if we have made our revolution beforehand.
    ~~Eric Blair

    “This talking point flies in the face of what?” cried the dart-throwing champion.
    “Hey, man. Chill,” said the reporter, waving defensively, “I asked if you still advocate revolution. Do you?”
    “Get out of my way!” snarled the dart champ, “before I drill three holes in your ear.”

  26. Pingback: George Orwell about Money and Taxes

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