Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Lack of Moral Fibre

In Boot Camp there's a good heavy debate going on about whether we have themes and use characters to express those themes (OR) have characters who create themes (and a few other methods)

This has people there talking about stories which seem to not have themes or have messy themes or contradictory themes

And then they are talking about consciousness of theme creating stilted writing orr "essays"

We're discussing all these things and I've just posted this story to use an as illustration of various points.

Did the author set out to prove some theme?

Is that what you feel? ie: is it an essay?

Or is it an exploration? Does it HAVE a theme?

(punctuation is deliberate)


north africa 1943

Bridie something happened today and I want to tell you. well write it on a letter and stick it in the tin the one for letters that I dont want to get sensored I mean. but tell you anyway. if anything happens and they send you a fellah's tin.

Bridie I carnt say where I am exact even tho Im not going to send this off. If something happened and the Jerrys got hold of my tin they might be able to work out where weve been. careless talk cost lives. Id like to send this off but theres no point as the sensor would scrub harf of evrything off and whats left wouldnt make any sense.

I keep thinking how big you must be now with the baby. I really wish I could be there when it comes. I really dont want to be here. I want to be with you and I want to be there for the baby when it comes. the doctor rekkoned in the middle of August dint he and its August now. you might of all ready had it and I dont no if its a boy or a girl.

they might charge me with lack of moral fibre Bridie. Im not some big brave lug but Im not yellow neither and LMF means your yellow and not up to being a fighting man. Well Im not up to being a fighting man but that doesnt mean Im yellow. I can fight to look after you or the baby or for the farm but standing out in the desert all alone on your own ecept for scorpions and ghurkas creeping around thats different theres no point.

sometimes when I manage it and I think of you and see your face O Bridie it hurts. we only had 48 hrs and the one night in the Barry hotel thats all. its not enough for two people to love each other properly. I was scared achully when we were getting married. I had lack of moral fibre then all right. but I never new that it could be so wonderful tho Bridie or that first time youd fall and Id be in north africa when you got big and the baby came.


I carnt say anything about my job but you no what it is roughly. well yesterday we had a shot up Hurricane down in no mans land and they sent out a jeep and brought the pilot in but someone had to go out and guard the plane. corporal hill picked me and they took me out and left me with a 303 and five rounds plus one up the spout. me and six bullets looking after a shot up Hurry it was stupid. it was very hot in the afternoon and I thought Id get fried. then it was evening and then it got dark and then it got colder and colder and I thought I was going to freeze.

this moral fibre stuff is all mixed up Bridie. one of my tin letters says about when we first got machine-gunned by fock wolf 190s. I run out in front of the Hurrys and started popping off at the Jerrys and corporal hill grabbed me and pulled my gun away. he said stop trying to be a hero jonesy you carnt hit a flaming 190 with a lee enfield. Then I dived under the Hurry and Corporal Hill grabbed me and made me run away from the planes. he said Jerry wasnt after us he was after the planes. we couldun do nothing about Jerry. leave shooting at planes to the regiment aa boys.

then once we got ourselfs into a scrape in a little ayrab town on a 12 hour pass and jockey harris fell out with some huge squaddie who was giving him a pasting. I said come on mate pick on someone your own size. I was bigger than jockey but this squaddie was like a tree comparing to me and corporal hill whacked him with a bottle. we legged it. after I said corp hitting a bloke with a bottle is dirty and he laughed and said alls fair in love and war and I had a screw loose if I really wanted to fight a goliath. I said I didnt want to fight no goliaths but someone had to help out jockey. he jest shook his head.

I do have guts Bridie. when I first met up with you in Swansea those roughnecks were pulling your dress. Well Bridie I was very scared then but being scared isnt the same as being yellow its just common sens isnt it.

I knew if they took me on that was that. but they didnt which is just as well. I dont know what Id of done ecept I wouldnt of run away. a man cant.

Bridie if youv all ready had a baby and its a girl I hope you called it Mary Bridget like we said. wen I close my eyes I can still see you - still feel how special it was in the Barry hotel and how we - you know - the first time. It wasnt a surprise to me that you got in the family way the first time. I remember all the stars and the sound of the waves when we walked up on the cliffs that night and I remember how we held each other and how all I wanted was for us to get the war over and have about twenty kids and make a go of the farm.

thats it I think Bridie. im a farmer not a fighting man. it says we can make swords into ploughs. thats what I want to do plough. A man can avoid scraps. its not big to win scraps even tho wen I was younger I did get into the odd one. I think a man has to keep hisself to hisself and look after his wife and his baby. thats whats right I think.

I wish I could be with you.

it got very cold in the desert but I could of managed that but it was the dark Bridie. the dark moves when its really dark did you know that. and the worst bit is that the Hurry was hot and then when it got to be night it started to cool and make noises. I tried to do all sorts of things to take my mind off being scared but it just got worst. by the middle of the night I was jumping out of my skin evry time the engine did a clunk or a click.

Not only that Bride but there were ghurkas out there. even tho their ours their evil little buggers. they got brown faces and big white smiles and in the day their funny little blokes but at night they go out in no mans land and they have these cookris in their mouths and you don't hear them or see them, if your standing up they feel your bootlaces. Jerry ties his different. the wrong way and clop your heads off jest like that. if your lying down they can tell if your Jerry from your uniform shoulders. If their wrong clop again.

Well I kept thinking what if they feel my boots and the laces are wrong clop. or what if they feel my shoulders and their wrong. clop. And theres a snake called the shoelace snake here Bridie. it eats your laces and in the morning you go to do up your boots and zip thats it your dead.

And anyway I couldn't do anything to save this Hurry if I wanted to. I was stuck in the middle of nowhere with six bullets. If Jerry wanted the plane hed need a low-loader and eight men. If one or two Jerrys turned up they couldn't pinch a whole plane could they and if about eight came well I wouldnt have enough bullets even if I shot like davy crockett.

so I went back to camp.

but Bridie all the way back I was thinking about you that maybe this was lack of moral fibre and I wasnt all the man youd hoped Id be and that maybe if our baby was a boy you wouldnt want to call him Ron after his dad. Iv got to admit I nearly went back when I thought this Bridie. sometimes when a chap does something that looks brave its because not doing it is more scary than doing it. I mean like when the two roughs were pulling your dress I was very scared but even more scared of not helping. I wouldnt be able to look in the mirror if I didn't help.

but really I couldn't look after the Hurry. Maybe if one ayrab came along on a camel I could shout who goes there and frighten him off but what would an ayrab on a camel want with a bloody big plane anyway.

it was a long way back to camp Bridie. I kept thinking what happens if I miss the road and get lost theirll never find me. the road was near to the sea and when the moon came up I could hear the sea and see the waves and they were silver where they turned over. It made me think of the sea on our wedding night tho the shine then was in your face not the waves.

well I got back and I went to look for corporal hill. I swung my lee enfield off my shoulder and I said corp I walked in. well corp his face was a picture and he said walked in from where and I said walked in from where the shot up Hurry is and he said oh shit (pardon my french).

corporal hill told me buzz off to my tent and get washed up get some breakfast and come back about eleven. Thats why I think its lack of moral fibre Im up on. Its getting that time all ready Bridie so Im writing this letter and putting it in the tin in case. Theres a war on. LMF is serious. they can put you away for quite a while for LMF. even shoot you if they want to. I carnt believe theirll shoot me. all I did was walk back to camp but it doesnt mean the thought doesnt cross your mind.

they keep telling us that all this fighting across north africa and I spose eventually all the way up italy getting machine gunned by 190s and standing out in the dark guarding shot up Hurrys is the same as looking after our loved ones on the farm. They keep telling us its about freedom and not standing for Jerrys shennanigans give an inch he takes a mile.

well I dont know Bridie. Seems to me that I could have stayed on the farm and built it up and kept out of the war and been with you. and when Mary or Ron had come we could think about another one or two to start with. seems to me thats man enough for anyone and fighting a couple of roughnecks or some squaddie is best avoided and serves no purpose.

I know that I shot at the 109s but that was like I got carried away. I know I would have had a crack at that big squaddie but that was only because he was too big for Jockey. them cases I can explain but standing in the cold in the middle of the night next to a shot up Hurry with snakes and scorpions and ghurkas after your laces not when you cant do anything if Jerry comes after the plane anyway that doesnt make any sense and if thats lack of moral fibre then its lack of moral fibre.

1,999 words

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