The War Illustrated No 108 Vol 5 October 10th 1941

The War IUuslraled /October \Qtli, 1941 VtUfcrtb MR. AVERELL H ARRIM AN, President Roosevelt’s Lease and Lend envoy, who heads the American Mission to Moscow for the three-power supply talks. Photo, .PG .U.H Io u n try life is nol all it's cracked up to be, ’’someone said tome the other day. And as an inveterate townsman upon whom ,at a late day, the rural way of life has come less from choice than circum­stance, I was inclined to agree. Harvest bugs, for example. I'v e made my first acquaintance with them in these autumnal days. I thought at first I had contracted some sort of blood disorder itching here, itching there, and a baker’s dozen o f focal points of discomfort arising as I scratched from ankle upleg !With relief I found that many others in my neighbourhood were suffering similarly. Strange how one's dis­comfort lessens with the knowledge that others are in like state. Thad suffered from the“ bicho Colorado ”(7/7 .red insect) in South America, and mos­ quitos have at times robbed the most enchanting sub-tropical scenes of all their charm for me, but these minute harvest bugs whose acquaintance I have made so recently— “eh, it’s been a rare year fur tham dratted 'arvest mites,” said a shepherd o f the Downs tome yesterday, giving them their proper name— are as effective itch producers as any South “American b ich o .”Nor is it any consolation to know that this absurdly tiny red devil belongs to the family o f Trom- bidiidae and. as a relative o f the“ bicho Colorado.” has quite a surprising life-story. [is abundance this year is due to the-long lush grass which the August rains have engendered. Fortunately am­monia quickly reduces the irritation his activities create. But bad as the plague o f insect life may be—insects preceded Man by millions o f years and will probably survive him b y ,millions more— it is nothing to what might have been, as I read in J. B: S.H aldan e’s “Fact and Faith ”that if all the existing varieties of only one species o f fly, Drosop/iilci, could be suit­ably crossed there isn ’t enough matter in all the known heavenly bodies, and probably not in the universe, to make one fly of each o f the possible kinds simultaneously !How's that for being fruit­ful and occupying the Earth ?,According to Maeterlinck it was really a case o f touch-and- forgo mastery o f the Earth between the Termite (the so-called White Ant) and Man. Nature, in her infinite variety, becomes somewhat alarming to contemplate closeup. The epidemics that will inevitably follow the gigantic destruction o f human beings now proceeding along the Western Front o f Russia will involve some epic battles between the minutest forms o f insect life and the latest ingenuities o f Science. T n passing through the ruins of the Temple to-day— or rather trying to pass through, for ruin is now at its zenith there, as the house­breakers pull down the gaunt skeletons o f the antique m em ory-haunted courts and halls— I went to see how Crown Office Row was faring. A few days more and its last brick will have been dislodged. A obit f the south wall at hallow’ed No. 2, where Charles Lamb was stillborn, stood but was about to comedown. All mv life in London that quite featureless brick building has fascinated me, and I have rarely in the thousand times 1 have passed it failed to think back to those distant days when, having just discovered Charles Lam b,and so let anew and lovely light stream into my young mind. I read and re-read him in cheap pocket editions (C assell's Library) under the birch trees o f a little wood in '.lie Isle o f Bute. Well, like his roses that perished, his birthplace has perished too, and on another distant day when some new building will occupy its site we shall have to be content with one o f those blue enam elled plaques which the L.C.C. put up at historic places reading (perhaps) “In a house that stood on this site, destroyed by Enemy inAction, 1941, Charles Lamb(‘ Elia ’),English Essayist,was born February 10,1775.” J ?merging from the bright interior o f a theatre yesterday a little after eight o'clock into the dark o f a moonless evening, I was suddenly conscious that the nights o f gloom had actually returned. The haunting horrors o f last winter, which our relatively happy months o f double summertime had helped us to forget, came back in chilling memories. The empty, ghostly squares and side streets through which we passed, which w'ere so recently traffic-thronged in ten p.m. daylight, and where last winter and spring the bombs had fallen every night or two :they all seemed scraps o f a bad dream that was being dream t again. But in the dazzling cheerfulness o f the hotel lounge this mood of brooding memory quickly vanished, and doubtless after a few more nights o f outward gloom one will recover something o f that stoic poise which carried us all through the worst days and nights o f the Battle o f Britain, apprehensive, afraid, but still undaunted. Myself, although I happened to be in many of the heavy raids during my London nights, I had the- luck to escape two or three o f the worst. Perhaps my luck wiil hold again during the coming terror w>e arc promised at least I hope so. for even a limited ex­perience o f Lon don's night raids counts for quite a lot in a lifetime.“ C wank ”is a quality I detest, although ^one may still alike friend who is“ a obit f a swanker”— I have more than one —for the sake o f his other qualities. So far as one can examine objectively one 'sown actions and reactions, I have always tried to do so, and have seldom felt more indignant than when an old friend wrote tome, some weeks back,breaking along silence, and mentioned that hrs “young people” thought it was swank to mention “my village ”in my jottings. The young sillies! What about “my c o u n try ,”“my home­ town ,”“my doc tor,” “my ta ilo r,” “my tobacconist ”(who swears he h a sn ’t “my ”cigarettes this week) ?My friend tells me that he explained to his critical offspring that “my village ”did not indicate any actual proprietary claims but was just“ a journalistic way ”of alluding to the place. t j i s young people must be abnormally dense, or little used to our common idiom to need such enlighten­ment at their age, and the fu/. o f the thing is that, although .I own a good percentage o f the houses i n “my village ”(more swank), 1 could never for a moment think o fit as ‘‘mine. ”Occasionally 1 derive some quiet amusement from hearing some o f my colleagues refer to those immediately under their direction as “my people.’’ Not once do I recollect ever having lumped the lot as “my p eo p le,” and 1 have been directing editorial staffs for well over forty years. 'This matter o f swank was really not suggested by that letter from my friend o fold years, whom I haven 't met since the last war, and who wrote tome “out o f the blue ”(he might have been buried for all I knew), but by noticing today on a Sussex highway two 10 h.p. cars proudly displaying the“ G .B .”plaques which are supplied for temporary use only when travelling abroad. I could fish out several o f these from my garage dump, for I have never, on returning from any o f my foreign tours, failed to remove the G.B. mark, which is totally meaning­ less in Great Britain. To wander about British roads flaunting this advertisement of your having been abroad (at least once) has always seemed tome the very apex o f motor­ing swank. You will notice the G.B. more often anon 8 or 10 than on a 27 or 30 h.p. But to display it anytime since August 1939 is sheer senseless swagger. Possibly the two in­stances I observed today may have originated in secondhand purchases and the buyers’ ignorance-of the significance o f the initials. You never know .But let’s be charitable. Printed in Kngland and published on the 10th. 20th and :50th of each month by the Proprietors, The Amalgamated Press, Ltd., The Fleetway House. Fanjngdon Street, London, K.C.J. Registered for transmission by Canadian Magazine Post. 'Sole Agents for Austialia and Kmv Zealand :Messrs. Gordon &'Got eh, Ltd .and for South Africa: Central News Agency, Ltd. October 10th. 1041- S.S. Editorial Address john carp enter house white friar ®lon hon,e .c .4.
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