Nuclear aftermath.

27 Mar

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! 🙂


Posted by on Tuesday, March 27, 2007 in philosophy


Tags: , ,

4 responses to “Nuclear aftermath.

  1. Grant

    Wednesday, March 28, 2007 at 7:54 am

    Sounds like he is “numb” to whatever the water temperature is due to enormity of the situation around him. So you’re inferring what the author intended when you say “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.”

  2. justmerach

    Wednesday, March 28, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    Probably am… but it doesn’t stop me not-liking his way of getting that across! It’s the fact that out of all the info I *could* remember, its the pointless bit I actually do remember.

  3. Angela

    Wednesday, March 28, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    The quote that I still remember from my higher English days is from Death of a Salesman (Arthur Miller) – “You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away—a man is not a piece of fruit.” Not as scary as nuclear fallout but it always makes me sad to remember Willie Loman, who feels so cheated by the changing world around him. Incidentally, it’s always Dustin Hoffman that I hear in my head saying this line as he plays the character in an excellent film adaptation.

  4. justmerach

    Saturday, March 31, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    I only read Death of a Salesman once, and I can’t exactly say it was the best read I’ve ever had. (I only read it because we’d studied – and I liked – The Crucible.)

    Been scratching my brain the past few days to see if I could remember any context whatsoever to your quote, and I must now admit to having failed!

    Even out of context, I do have to agree it has a fairly respectable depression-score. I just hate the thought of cynical/selfish/back-stabbing people who think they can just get what they want from other people and not bother caring about them, and liking them “just the way they are”.

    Conversely, I end up caring about people so much that I don’t want to get what I want from them, just in case I end up ‘using’ them somehow. I can be silly sometimes!! *tries to see if she can stab herself in the back, and conveniently discovers she can’t reach*

    (Aha, foot-shooting is easier! That’ll be why everyone usually chooses that option.)


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