With apologies to the late James W. Best for appropriating his image (from his 1935 Forest Life in India)

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Nice of You to Tell Me

Charity shops are pretty depressing places, and trying to scan their grotty bookshelves over someone's shoulder – there's always someone in your way – can be pretty soul destroying, but every now and then you find a diamond among the dross and suddenly it all seems worthwhile. So it was that I recently found this little gem, first published in 1954:


It's the diary an Australian nurse secretly and very bravely kept while interned by the Japanese in Sumatra from 1942 until the end of the war. By the time her camp was liberated she weighed less than six stone. But, she survived. So many others didn't. A mile away was the men's camp. With the war lost, the Japanese announced that internees with husbands and fathers there could visit them. Excitedly they all got ready, women and children alike. Then the Japanese called out the names of all those who needn't bother...