Orwell Diaries 1938-1942


Last night went to the pub to listen to the 9 o’clock news, and arriving there a few minutes late, asked the landlady what the news had been. “Oh, we never turn it on. Nobody listens to it, you see. And they’ve got the piano playing in the other bar, and they won’t turn it off just for the news.” This at a moment when there is a most deadly threat to the Suez canal°. Cf. during the worst moment of the Dunkirk campaign, when the barmaid would not have turned on the news unless I had asked her… [1] Cf. also the time in 1936 when the Germans re-occupied the Rhineland. I was in Barnsley at the time. I went into a pub just after the news had come through and remarked at random, “The German army has crossed the Rhine”. With a vague air of remembering something someone murmured “Parley-voo”. [2] No more response than that…So also at every moment of crisis from 1931 onwards. You have all the time the sensation of kicking against an impenetrable wall of stupidity. But of course at times their stupidity has stood them in good stead. Any European nation situated as we are would have been squealing for peace long ago.

[1] See War-time Diary, 28.5.40 and 24.6.40.

[2] Refrain from World War I song ‘Mademoiselle from Armentiѐres,’ or ‘Armenteers,’ as it was sung. Peter Davison