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.


  1. Seems we should never take our lives for granted. Never know what’s going to happen to change it. I agree with you that our sense have values have dramatically shifted during this COVID-19 crisis.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The only thing which makes me want to live forever is that I’d quite like to see how it all ends, the twists and turns along the way You know, if humans are still around in the year 4000, say, what will their values be? How will all that evolve?


  2. That sounds like a good book. My mother was born in 1944 and all of her relatives except for my grandparents and her siblings, were sent to concentration camps and were never heard from again. Now, my mom, her parents and my mom’s siblings have all passed away. What now? It is strange. There is so much history but where do we put it all? I guess I could google it but who is BoJo?


    • Boris Johnson. My wife is similar – her mother got out at the start of the war, but everybody else was lost. The ISBN is 9781529105063. I don’t understand ISBN but I guess that is the same for you? If not, I found it on amazon.com. But my wife can’t bear to read any of this stuff, it’s just too close to home.


      • ISBN is the only way to make sure your work can be found anywhere. I have 4 children’s books published and that is the one plus about paying to get them published versus self publishing alone. Anyhow, I like to read about these things because I am fascinated by human behavior. It isn’t so much about what the people went through, rather what other humans put them through!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have thought the same as you Pete. But regarding the testing, there are people now who have had it and recovered, yet they still have to abide by what the government has said. Meaning this tight lockdown. Surely those who have had it and recovered should be able to return to normal life now, and help keep the country going. Am I being stupid or what?


    • I looked on the WHO site and there was no evidence at the time that someone could catch it twice. At the same time, I heard reports out of China that people had. I mean, ultimately that will need to be relaxed or everybody will be locked down forever.
      I suspect at the moment they do not want to differentiate.

      Liked by 1 person

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