Notes On Attention Paid

Follow @mbkriegh on Micro.blog.

The Journals of Denton Welch

… the war injects itself more and more… deaths on the front… V-1 (doodle-bug) rocket bombs starting to fall…

_On Thursday last I went towards the river and I saw truck after truck with a huge red cross on it winding slowly along the road — quite 50 of them. And I thought of the soldiers inside — their wounds and torn bodies.

I picnic by the river in the boiling sun, in only my shorts; then I bicycled right along the banks until I felt the sun burning into the dip between my shoulder blades.1

… these two paragraphs together are surprising… DW observes the war from a distance, getting on with the pleasures of his life… it’s quite the juxtaposition…

… DW talks about Italian prisoners of war roaming the countryside and going for swims in the streams… no POW camps?…

… DW picnics all the time… the war seems of little consequence and concern, impinging on him daily and sometimes dangerously close, but his reporting of it is like the reporting of a minimal nuisance, like a mosquito… he sees it but it seems to have little impact… one wonders if he ever thought of volunteering his time?… if so, he never mentions it… overall, he seems very self involved… on the other hand, aren’t journals the place where we get to be self involved?…

_ in the past through the barley field by East Peckham sluice gates I found a little flat red stone or piece of glass with a masonic symbol on it; and I have put it in my pocket for my fortune. Up above, the doodle bugs are whizzing up to London with the guns banging black puffs in the sky.

Just in the river was a vicious plop, which is a spiked finger of shrapnel diving.2

… there is something surreal about the way he recounts all this… as if he is narrating a film, not actually threatened with death and dismemberment…


  1. The Journals of Denton Welch, p 157 [return]
  2. Ibid, p 160 [return]