Monday, February 12, 2018

Business as usual, Mr. Hitler

But first, an announcement: I've been invited to join the bloggers at Mad Genius Club, a blog for writers and especially for indie writers. I'll be posting every other Thursday afternoon. So in future you'll be spared posts about writing techniques; this blog will be reserved for frivolity (and, of course, book announcements) My most recent post is Context and Misdirection, and it's about the song "The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry." If you're wondering what the heck that has to do with writing technique, click over and take a look.

Now, about London and Blitz spirit:

Yes, I'm still reading about the Blitz, even though I've really got all the information I need for A Tapestry of Fire. It's a gripping subject. Also, I like first-hand accounts, and there are tons of memoirs available.

I've also come across more distanced views of that period. There are several "debunking" books that claim Londoners weren't as perky as media and contemporary accounts imply. To read some of these books, you'd think that Londoners were about to experience a nervous breakdown en masse during the Blitz.

Poppycock.

In the first place, nobody ever claimed that every single resident of London greeted the bombing with a stiff upper lip and British cheer. Of course there were people who were terrified, miserable, couldn't function due to sleep deprivation, and if you go looking for examples you will find them.

In the second place, the people who lived through the Blitz were somewhat self-selected for iron nerves; those who couldn't take it, and had the option of going somewhere else, skedaddled.

And finally, the most impressive thing about the Blitz is that London still functioned. People sheltered in subway stations or in backyard Anderson shelters or under the stairs, and in the morning they rubbed their eyes and went to work. Plumbers and electricians and carpenters were there for life's little emergencies as well as repairing Blitz damage. Grocers and butchers and dairymen kept people fed. Journalists and secretaries and business owners and shopgirls went to work. Even politicians went to work, which may or may not be a good thing.

And many shopowners whose premises had suffered bomb damage put up cheeky signs and... went to work.

You have to admire the people who adorned their semi-wrecked shops with signs like these:

PLEASE ENTER THROUGH THE DOOR
HITLER CAME THROUGH THE WINDOWS

BUSINESS AS USUAL, MR. HITLER

TRY OUR HIGH EXPLOSIVE HAIRCUTS
THEY’RE A KNOCKOUT

MORE OPEN THAN USUAL

BLACKED OUT EVENINGS? TAKE HOME SOME BOOKS

NO WINDOWS BUT PLENTY OF SPIRIT

SORRY WE’VE GOT NO FRONT DOOR
DON’T KNOCK JUST COME STRAIGHT IN

BOMBED? YES!
BUT YOU SHOULD SEE WHAT THE RAF HAS DONE TO OUR BRANCH IN BERLIN

OUR WINDOW HAS GONE
BUT WE NEVER DID LIKE WINDOW-DRESSING ANYWAY

1 comment:

  1. If you can't laugh, you'd cry, I'm thinking, as I read those signs.

    ReplyDelete

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