Observations

I was going to post this one anyway, but the first bit, for sure, fits into Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (FOWC). belligerent. I was going to update you on my current audiobook, called Renia’s Diary.

As it happens, Renia was about fifteen, a Jewish girl from Poland, in 1939. Of course, we know what happened, in fact we are told up-front that Renia was murdered by the Nazis in 1941. But because it is a diary, she writes so present tense – we know what is ultimately going to happen, but Renia, as she writes, has no idea.

She starts off, in January 1939, mad because they have had to uproot the family home. She has been packed off to live with grandparents, somewhere I can’t pronounce. Her mother is in Warsaw, for reasons I haven’t discovered yet.

In the first few entries, she also talks about school, for school terms in Poland ran absolutely normally in 1938-9. She even goes on her summer holiday at the end of the school year.

When Poland is actually invaded, in September, only Warsaw resists for any length of time (a week!). Again, thinking about the present and the future. We will win, she writes. Poland was invaded by both the Nazis and the Soviets, as a result of their pact at the start of the war. Renia even talks about Stalin’s occupying army, how one of the soldiers was sweet on her.

That is where I’m up to. So far it is pretty much what a teenage girl would write, I guess, but I am expecting Renia to get older very quickly.

Because it is a diary, everything is contemporary, which gives the book a unique perspective. It’s not written as a history book, where the end is known all the way through, where the author is leading us through to some end point. We do, of course, know what finally happened to Renia, but she didn’t. I’m expecting the account to end quite abruptly. And, I wonder if she’d have been so worried about being sent to her grandparents if she’d have known all the things that would happen subsequently?

And it makes me wonder about us. We often have immediate worries and concerns, but only hindsight allows us to know whether we were part of history.

This girl was living through something which ultimately changed the world, although she wasn’t aware of the sheer scale in her diary. And I look at this virus, and can’t help wondering whether we are too? We’ve already been in a situation where a roll of toilet paper is a better bargaining chip than a five dollar bill, where governments are handing out billions and trillions in order to keep their citizens solvent. Governments will presumably want to to claw all that money back one day? I wonder how much joy they will have? Maybe a few hundred years more austerity? How do they think populations will react to that? Maybe we’ll get to the point where a society is not just defined in financial terms, where money is not the be-all-and-end-all?


You guys have probably heard by now that both Prince Charles and BoJo [Boris Johnson] are being reported in the media as positive. I have to say that my immediate reaction was to wonder how they knew? Why they have been tested when even front-line nurses have not been tested yet, although in BoJo’s case presumably he is quite central to the co-ordination effort, so periodic testing is probably justified.

My second thought was a little more positive. If these public figures can pick the virus up, then it wouldn’t surprise me if many others of us have picked it up, too. And we don’t know, because the symptoms happen not to have been particularly bad (in us. They are obviously bad in some people.) And we’ll never know yes/no for sure, because we’ll never get to a hospital and therefore never be tested?

It is just a thought.

The Caramel Crunch (28 March 2020)

Over at Caramel (Learner at Love), CARAMEL has started a new prompt. I’d like to see her prompt do well, and I had some time today to write a post, so here we go…

The prompts are called the Caramel Crunch and so far are centered around a moral question. For your convenience I shall repeat her question.

You are spending time with a close friend (or perhaps someone you are courting) at a public venue – perhaps at a shop or eating in a restaurant. Your friend is unhappy about the service, but when expressing their complaint, they are very rude to a member of staff. What do you do?

Hmmm…tricky one.

It is definitely a negative thing. But I’m not sure about fatal.

The reason I think it might not be fatal is because it happened when I first met my wife. Similar. We’d ordered an afternoon tea, the waitress screwed up the order (which, being afternoon tea, was pretty straightforward), and my wife was less than kind. Even at the time, I didn’t like it, but I never said anything. Having said that, it was quite belittling but I wouldn’t have described it as very rude. We got over it and twenty years later, we’re still married. I know her well enough now to realise that what I saw was a one-off. And my wife does not know to this day how mad I was at her. Well, I guess she does now, if she reads this post 🙂.

So I guess the question is really is being rude to a waiter/waitress grounds to end something? In my ivory tower, I say yes. In practise, I said no.

Incidentally, my response to that situation would likely be just to be polite, point out the mistake so it can hopefully be rectified, to chalk it up to experience, but at the same time to remember it and probably not go there again.

If it were a friend? I’m sorry, I can’y really conceive of a friend behaving in such a way. Put the other way, if they behaved like that, they wouldn’t be a friend.

I guess this fits, Fandango’s FOWC for yesterday, which was “confession”. Sorry buddy, I didn’t see it and forgot about it, until I saw someone’s response this morning.