Regeneration by Pat Barker

This book is set during WW1 in England. It makes use of the factual poets Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and Robert Graves. Fact and fiction are mixed together in this story about the psychological damage done to soldiers during the First World War. The issue of opposing the war is also discussed, since Siegfried Sassoon, one of the most famous of WW1 poets, opposed the war publicly. Those injured soldiers who opposed the merciless killing were equated with cowards and shirkers. The only apparent option for them was to return to the front in France to demonstrate they were not afraid. When Siegfried Sassoon was wounded in France he returned to England. Wilfred Owen felt he should replace Sassoon at the front so he could report independently on what conditions were like. He returned to France and was killed a week before the end of the war. His mother received the dreaded telegram the same day the church bells were ringing out proclaiming the end of the war. In the novel Regeneration, Rivers is a psychiatrist who treats men who were damaged psychologically by their experiences in the war. The men were often injured mentally as well as physically, yet… Continue reading

My Quarter-life Crisis

 Perhaps it is time I presented my loyal blog readers with a humorous short story. Okay, even if you are not loyal, I’d like to give you a smile. I hope this works.                                     MY QUARTER LIFE CRISIS My life has been a bit of a mess so far. But a girl always has her parents to fall back on: rock steady, reliable. Three times after breakups with partners I have returned home to their comfort and stability. I can’t tell you how many bad boyfriends I’ve had. Drunks, cheats, clowns, you name it, I’ve had them all. So at the age of 27, when I discovered Raymond I decided that it had been worth the wait. At first my girlfriends were not jealous; they said he must be gay. He was just too considerate, too sophisticated, too well-dressed, too generous. We went out three times — and he didn’t try to take me to bed. I began to wonder if Priscilla might be right. Was he gay? I know I was over-anxious, I guess I should have waited for him to make… Continue reading

Never, never, never give up

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP That is a popular slogan these days. I see it everywhere, but it gives me an uneasy feeling, because I just cannot agree with it. I hope others don’t actually believe it, yet I see it presented  as if it were an infallible truth. There are times when it is best to give up because usually there is a price to pay for not giving up. Let’s look at some examples. During the Second World War, Japan gave up. They did not continue the war after the second atomic bomb was exploded on Nagasaki. What if they had followed the rule, and never, never, never gave up? The bombing would have continued. They didn’t know there were no more atomic bombs, but there were plenty of incendiary bombs, and Japan had no air force by that stage of the war. There was a price to pay for not giving up. The price was the war continuing for perhaps another year, perhaps ten million more civilians would die from bombing, starvation, disease. That was the penalty for never giving up. We should ask the question, never give up … what? Never give up trying to achieve… Continue reading

The Stranger Beside Me, Ann Rule

The Stranger Beside Me, True Crime by Ann Rule Ann Rule began volunteer work at the suicide Crisis Centre after her brother committed suicide. She felt guilt over his death and wanted to do something to help suicidal people. She answered the phone at night and into the early hours of the morning. There were only two people on the night shift, herself and a polite, friendly, empathetic young man who talked people out of suicide. His name was Ted Bundy, probably the worst serial killer in American history. As they worked through the nights, side by side, they became firm friends, despite the fact that Ann Rule was 10 years older, had four children, and was married. Ted was a student at the University of Washington, a psychology major, and an honour student. During quiet nights, they shared aspects of their lives as friends do. No one saw Ted Bundy as a threat, as a killer. What they saw was a charming, intelligent, helpful, friendly young man, universally called “good looking”. In 1971 Ann was a single mother of four, aged 35 years, struggling with a divorce and a sick husband. She had briefly been a police officer, but… Continue reading