Saturday, February 3, 2018

the last book I ever read (George Orwell's Coming Up For Air, excerpt three)

from Coming Up For Air by George Orwell:

You can’t know how wild we were to catch those fish. Or perhaps you can, if you’ve ever been at war. You know the frantic boredom of war and the way you’ll clutch at almost any kind of amusement. I’ve seen two chaps in a dugout fight like devils over half of a threepenny magazine. But there was more to it than that. It was the thought of escaping, for perhaps a whole day, right out of the atmosphere of war. To be sitting under the poplar trees, fishing for perch, away from the Company, away from the noise and the stink and the uniforms and the officers and the saluting and the sergeant’s voice! Fishing is the opposite of war. That was the thought that sent us into a kind of fever. If the sergeant found out he’d stop us as sure as fate, and so would any of the officers, and the worst of all that there was no knowing how long we were going to stay at the village. We might stay there a week, we might march off in two hours. Meanwhile we’d no fishing tackle of any kind, not even a pin or a bit of string. We had to start from scratch. And the pool was swarming with fish! The first thing was a rod. A willow wand is best, but of course there wasn’t a willow tree anywhere this side of the horizon. Nobby shinned up one of the poplars and cut off a small bough which wasn’t actually good but was better than nothing. He trimmed it down with his jack-knife till it looked something like a fishing-rod, and then we hid it in the weeds near the bank and managed to sneak back into the village without being seen.

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