In the book Brother in the Land, there’s this point where the boy Danny arrives at the ‘survivors camp’, named MASADA, and he goes to have his first shower. He’s expecting it to be hot, but it isn’t as the men going out to work have taken the hot water, and currently the next lot of water is just getting the chill taken off it.
Branwell said, “The lamps’ll have taken the chill off the fresh lot.”
Danny’s thoughts were “If they had, I didn’t notice.”
It is those few words – “If they had, I didn’t notice.” – that have annoyed me no end for years. Every time I wait for hot water – usually first thing in the morning – these words run through my head like some kind of stuck record. And they grate on me. Like somehow its going to make a difference to me in the future if I ever get stuck in a nuclear war whether my water is lukewarm after three minutes or seven.
Sounds terribly depressing to think about nuclear war every day, but actually it probably isn’t that bad. (Thinking, that is, not the reality!) I don’t really allow myself to dwell on the full enormity of it, but I suppose it does give me a chance to reflect on how I have something to be thankful for.
Going back to Englishness, I’m told the sentence is grammatically correct. This just makes it worse, as it means I don’t even have a sensible reason to detest those six words so very much.
I wish one day I would just wake up in the morning, and they’d be completely vapourised from my consciousness.
If they did, I wouldn’t notice.
Smile to a friend: A very definite thankyou to my childhood English teacher for so obligingly looking out the quote for me, despite being busy! 🙂