Another good bit from John Lawton
"The warden looked from Troy's face to the card and back again.
"`When I was your age I was in the trenches.'
"Troy looked into the man's face. He was almost entirely in shadow, but his age seemed clear enough; the clipped mustache, the received pronunciation, the creaking joints all bespoke a man in his fifties — a generation Troy had come to loathe, with their constant justification of what they had done in the war, their jingoistic fervor that their sons should also risk their lives in another German war — a generation of drawing-room drones, League of Nations naïves, chicken-farming chunterers. Troy had long ago ceased to regard the ARP and the Home Guard as anything but a patriotic nuisance."That passage tells us something about Lawton's series protagonist, Frederick Troy. It gives us, in the person of the officious civil defense worker, a memorable human portrait. It gives a vivid, small-scale picture of life during wartime (London, 1944), and, as Lawton often does, the small-scale anecdote expands into a barbed comment on English character and manners.
As a bonus, we North American readers may learn a bit of English slang and social history from the passage. ARP stands for Air Raid Precautions, a British civil defense organization. A chunterer is someone who grumbles and scolds, and I say it's a fine word.
© Peter Rozovsky 2013