Fishing for Nevil Shute Part 2: A Rising Wind

In ‘The Afro-American and the Second World War’ by Neil Wynn (1993), Nevil Shute is given a brief mention on page 93:

‘Much less impressive was Jigger Witchet’s War, written ten years later by Avery E. Kolb. Also about black troops in Europe, it concentrated on humor rather than social comment, and suffers accordingly. Interestingly enough, a novel by the English author Nevil Shute also dealt with the question of exported racial prejudice. The Chequer Board (1947) included an account of racial strife between black and white American soldiers in an English town. The local publican refuses to exclude Negro soldiers and instead hangs up a notice which reads ‘This House is for Englishmen and Coloured American troops only.’ This appears to be based on fact, for Walter White, during his tour of camps in Britain, quoted signs saying just that in a number of pubs.’

I’m going to copy out some of the 155 page book ‘A Rising Wind’ by Walter White (1945)

First of all, other books by Walter White: The Fire and the Flint, Flight, and Rope and Faggot. 

Dedication:

For my son

 WALTER

with the prayer that his generation,

white and Negro, may be wiser

than was his father’s’

Epigraph:

At the close, Mrs. Roosevelt quoted a phrase from the late Thomas Wolfe, ending, ” . . . .a wind is rising and the rivers flow.”

“Yes,” she said, “a wind is rising throughout the world of free men everywhere, and they will not be kept in bondage. The rivers flow in the democracies that now exist through to those who are held temporarily in slavery and on to the deluded human beings who are voluntary slaves.

“They have thought that force and cruelty and people who cast aside free choice and accept the will of one man or a few men can endure and dominate. But the rivers flow so swiftly they cannot be turned back, and the new beds which they make for themselves are in the pattern of new ideas which the people who believe in freedom in the world are fashioning today. Democracy shall triumph.” – The New York Herald Tribune, September 19, 1941.

*Note to self: In times like these, in supposed peacetime, during the worldwide virus panic, I wonder what somebody such as Mrs. Roosevelt would say now. 

When shall democracy triumph?  I struggle to understand what people mean when they talk about democracy, from time to time I ask humans, trolls and robots on social media who uses the d-word regularly – What is democracy? How do you define Democracy? or something similar. Often I receive no reply at all, especially by journalists and academics –  asking such a question can lead to getting one ‘blocked’.   The answers that do come my way are usually along the lines of ‘Look it up in a dictionary’.. also phrases such as ‘google is your friend’ are not uncommon.. (‘Google is your friend’ is the sort of phrase most often adopted by people who like to cite statistics about things to bolster their arguments.. when asked to provide sources for their figures without facts they will, rather than just name or provide links to sources, just reply to me ‘Google is your friend’.   Christopher Snowdon has used to phrase before towards me,  and lots of his pro-drug anti-nanny-state  crew use such terms too.)

I am on the verge of removing myself from twitter soon I think. I have got nothing to promote, and predominantly twitter is a marketing tool.  I do enjoy spending a few minutes here and there sharing articles and gauging a reaction from people. (Unless stated otherwise, I mostly *do* endorse the articles I share on Twitter.) But I end up falling into the trap that so many others seem to fall into. I end up reading a stupid statement that I disagree with and I end up letting my emotions get the better of me and I occasionally write things on a public forum that I will regret the next day, sometime even a few minutes after tweeting in my own words. 

If I ever have a book to sell, I doubt I’ll have an online presence at all. I’d prefer to sell 50 books without an online presence, than 1000 books with one. (It would not surprise me if I think differently if I ever have something important to sell.)

I mainly log in to twitter playground to observe the odd things that are always going on. Occasionally I note down a name of an author, or an historical event, or other useful information that might turn out to be useful when I unplug and untangle my consciousness  from the worldwide interwebs-It’s not particularly worldwide or interconnected most of the time though as far as I can see- most of the american news publications I want to read are blocked to outsiders, Australian news too, I do not recall reading much news content from the vast majority of European, African, South American, North American, Asia or Australasian countries. 

Entertainment.. well that is a different story.   

If it wasn’t for a small handful of websites such as Internet Archive, Gutenberg Project etc and various interesting blogs, I doubt there would be much reason to use the internet at all. It is easy enough to get a very cheap mobile device to send and receive emails on  via ‘free-wifi’ which is everywhere..and or at least it was everywhere before the majority of businesses, small to large, were shut down by the liberty-rejecters  and their listless sci-consensus of mavens. 

I would love a home life free from all internet distractions. But at least one member of my household would probably think otherwise. Maybe over time I can gradually get my way.

I suppose it would be difficult to get by without emailing.. Just look at the price of stamps! Although, if one cancelled all online subscriptions and stopped giving money to a broadband provider, I reckon more than enough money would be saved to cover the price of stamps. But would one receive a letter back. I wonder if the money saved from turning one’s back from the online-world totally would cover the price of self-addressed envelopes too.

My note was not supposed to turn out like that/last that long..*

A few paragraphs from Chapter One of ‘A Rising Wind’, by Walter White:

‘ “WE WISH you’d come over for a look-see,” a Negro Red Cross worker in England wrote. Between the lines of the censored letter there was more to be read than in the lines themselves. Rumor—some good, most of them bad—had come back to the United States of relations between white and Negro American troops. One had told of a distinguished British family inviting a group of American soldiers to their home for dinner and dancing. Everything moved smoothly during the meal, but when one of the Negro soldiers danced with one of the Englishwomen, he had been assaulted by a Southern white soldier. A free-for-all followed in which the British took the side of the Negroes. 

And there was the story of the pub keeper who had posted a sign over his entrance reading 

“THIS PLACE FOR EXCLUSIVE USE OF ENGLISHMEN AND AMERICAN NEGRO SOLDIERS.”

But how to go? Civilian travel being banned, the choice seemed to lie between going as an official observer, which would entail some restriction of movement and publication, or as a war correspondent. There were some people in the War Department and a few Army officials in the European Theater of Operations who were none too keen to have the facts investigated and published. But their opposition was overcome in time. Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy, Undersecretary Robert P. Patterson, Brigadier General Alexander Surles, chief of the Bureau of Public Relation, and others believed that there might be some value in an appraisal and possible recommendations which would help to ease, if not to solve, the tough problem created by Americans who, fighting a war to defeat a master-race theory, had transplanted to other parts of the world the racial patterns and prejudices of Mississippi.’

Walter White has me eating out of his hand. The next 150 pages could be about different shades of paint thinner and I would happily read them all in one short sitting. A very good writer.  I know what I’ll be reading on my half-hour breaks in the coming nights.

It’s been ages since I’ve come across the phrase ‘look-see’.. it was in common usage in east Herfordshire where I was as a child, and even up until 2002 when I moved to Manchester and eventually half-settled in East Cheshire, or the Northern Midlands as I refer to this part of the country to my supposedly Northern friends and acquaintances.

I have meant to write about Manchester. But most of the memories are tied up with personal matters involving people I don’t want to write about.  IF I start getting out more during the day from my rented East Cheshire abode, maybe its time to start writing about the present, or the immediate past.   

“Look-see” has been re-added to the vocabulary I’m slowly trying to nurture and grow.  A few other words I have added too, such as ‘maven’.

‘Negro’ has most definitely not been added to my vocabulary.

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