Unbearably Light
I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Join the A.R.P.

I seem to have been born hard-wired with a certain proclivity for – how shall I put it – “obsessional” behaviour.   Not with people in a creepy Stalkerlite Fashion or at least not unless they are fucking amazing.  I mean in more of a “I need to know everything about this obscure random topic NOW” kind of way.  Basically, the discovery of Wikipedia prompted a little party in my head.

It all started with World War 2 though, way back in the day when I was about, well, eight.  So essentially I was reading about the fall of Berlin and The Secret Seven at the same time.   I mean I wasn’t one of those annoying genius children or anything.  I understood the politics as much as I understood why my older cousin wanted to kiss boys yeuch.  My childhood research was confined to discovering things like evacuation and Anne Frank and rationing and OMG! they didn’t know what bananas were!  Amazing.  I remember being about ten when I started getting one of those fortnightly magazines about the war that included copies of rationing books and maps of troop movements.  I would literally spend a whole week trawling through the thing bit by bit, and annoying the head of my mother asking what our relatives did during “The Emergency”.  Obviously I didn’t mention this at school at all, because at ten you have a good appreciation of what is and isn’t made of cool, but I would be secretly extremely excited when it came up in History.  At the same time, I was also a little obsessed with natural disasters and had an irrational fear of the witch from The Wizard of Oz.  My nightmares were in Technicolor.

Yeah. Then I grew up, and while I am generally now able to watch the wicked witch without hiding behind the couch, I am still fucking obsessed with WW2. I can’t explain it really, but it involves something I’m hoping to study properly at some point.  The politics is of course immensely interesting, and the humanitarian result devastating – I have read extensively about both – but it was those little copies of ration books that have stayed with me.  The everyday stuff; the blackouts, the food, the Anderson shelters.

This is all background to the fact that I have been devouring a book that seems to have been written specifically for me over the last week or so.  Unlikely, since it was published eight years before I was born, but nonetheless.  It’s called “How We Lived Then” and describes in detail each stage of the war from a British social standpoint.   It’s mindblowing.  Think about what it would *actually* be like to be told that next Friday your children were going to be sent to the country for a couple of years, your husband was going to sent to train as a soldier in some top secret location, and you, as a typist, were going to share a room in a converted greenhouse sending morse code messages all day long whilst bombs were falling all around the country.  Yeah.  And yet, you still felt lucky because however bad things got, cross over to mainland Europe and they have a whole different definition of misery.

So then I turn on the news this morning and read about this and decide the world needs to get it’s fucking priorities back in order.

If you have any interest in WW2, or even if you enjoy reading about people who come up with ingenious ideas for safely walking around during the blackout by placing glow worms on compact mirrors, get yourself off to amazon and be humbled and amazed.

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2 Responses to “Join the A.R.P.”

  1. […] of what they tend to talk about. This does not matter. I just tend to click with people who are as madly obsessive as I am about something, even if I have no interest in what they obsess about. Mix that with slight […]


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