Last night with G. [1] to see the shelter in the crypt under Greenwich church.  The usual wooden and sacking bunks, dirty (no doubt also lousy when it gets warmer), ill-lighted and smelly, but not on this particular night very crowded.  The crypt is simply a system of narrow passages running between vaults on which are the names of the families buried in them, the most recent being about 1800. . . .  G. and the others insisted that I had not seen it at its worst, because on nights when it is crowded (about 250 people) the stench is said to be almost insupportable.  I stuck to it, however, though none of the others would agree with me, that it is far worse for children to be playing among vaults full of corpses than that they should have to put up with a certain amount of living human smell.

[1] Gwen O’Shaughnessy, Eileen’s sister-in-law. Peter Davison

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6 Responses to 3.3.41

  1. I don’t want to knock you since you posted twice in 2 days George, but what do you mean by, “it is far worse for children to be playing among vaults full of corpses than that they should have to put up with a certain amount of living human smell.”?

  2. Stephen says:

    He means, I think, that in his idealised notion of childhood, it is possible for a child to have a normal life during a period of intense aerial bombardment, so long as s/he stays above ground.

    I think he is denying the evidence of his own senses that the children don’t seem to mind and are at least staying alive. Still, typical George the Observer, to make a special inspection trip to the crypt and record his observations for us.

    This post has the same children/blitz theme as his – er- last post.

  3. M G says:

    @Stephen I don’t see how you come to those conclusions. It sounds like you have some vaguely condescending prejudice against GO and are reading a lot more between the lines than I can see. And if you think that’s wrong of me that shows how innaccurate such a tendency can be! It sounds to me that what he means is either that, of these two misfortunes of having to shelter in such a crypt, (IE the stench and the presence of corpses) the playing near corpses is the worse of them; or else that there may be some part of the crypt away from the stench where the children play near corpses. More than that, we cannot say.

  4. George~~
    Don’t worry, I know what you mean. People often worry about the wrong things.

  5. Tom says:

    Interesting post George, gives us 21st-century lot an idea how tough it must have been, though I’d imagine children would just take it in their stride if they knew little else.

  6. Pingback: Indignant Desert Birds » Sunday Morning Reading Material: First Sunday in March 2011– Day After My Birthday Edition

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