Friday, January 28, 2011


Yesterday, Thursday, was Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom HaShoah). Seeing that in my diary produced a flood of memories. I remembered a man called Bill, a huge florid-faced jolly chap who looked like he could have been a mercenary. And in fact he had been. I used to meet him regularly in the Fox Inn, my favourite watering hole in those days. Once he told me that he had been one of the British soldiers who liberated Belsen concentration camp in 1945, describing how his task was to drive one of the bulldozers that shovelled bodies into the burial pits. I remembered that yesterday.
I also remembered standing with Bill one evening, raising my glass and saying, a propos of nothing, that I was feeling good. At that precise moment, my wife-to-be came into the pub, whispered for me to come outside, and then told me she had taken a phonecall from my sister's brother-in-law to say that my sister had been found dead in her kitchen, her head in the gas oven. She had committed suicide.
Today is Friday, normally the day I reserve for being grumpy. But today I have no room for grumpiness. Today I have room only for gratitude that I have been spared the horrors of war, and that in my moments of despair I have been supported by loving family and friends. I pray that you reading this can say the same. Amen.

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