Page 3 - summer 22
P. 3

wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak

            to dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one
            man to hammer the nails home.

            Or you can take a length of steel,
            shaped and chased in a traditional way,
            and attempt to pierce the metal cage he wears.
            But for this you need white horses,
            English trees, men with bows and arrows,

            at least two flags, a prince, and a
            castle to hold your banquet in.

            Dispensing with nobility, you may, if the wind
            allows, blow gas at him. But then you need
            a mile of mud sliced through with ditches,
            not to mention black boots, bomb craters,

            more mud, a plague of rats, a dozen songs
            and some round hats made of steel.

            In an age of aeroplanes, you may fly
            miles above your victim and dispose of him by
            pressing one small switch. All you then
            require is an ocean to separate you, two
            systems of government, a nation's scientists,

            several factories, a psychopath and
            land that no-one needs for several years.

            These are, as I began, cumbersome ways to kill a man.
            Simpler, direct, and much more neat is to see
            that he is living somewhere in the middle

            of the twentieth century, and leave him there.

            Historian Michael Burleigh cites one particularly unfortunate Japanese man who
            survived the dropping of the first atom bomb on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. He
            then travelled to Nagasaki in time for the dropping of the second atom bomb on 9
            August. He survived that too.

            As for the second half of the century, Hobsbawm notes that around 1950 the global
            number of students  overtook that of peasants. Not therefore a bad time to have

            been born. We shall look at all these developments.
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