Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Scraper's Diary, Wednesday, March 19th, 1947, Osnabruck

Nothing about this place, except that it is less bombed, in places, than Dortmund. Also, that by another masterpiece of over-organisation, we arrived too late to give a show.

Went with B.S.M. Scott this morning to his house to inspect his piano, with an eye to its suitability for our use in the Officers' Mess. I approved of it and also of his wife, tea, cakes and son to whom I was introduced in that order. Needless to add, I also approved of B.S.M. Scott. I hope that this was reciprocated.


Walking delirium of Germany, the streets muddy, impersonal.

Carts rumbling over wet cobbles.
A Wagnerian vista of clouds round a watery sun. Pre-Raphaelite above.
The chatter of children in their clean fur coats or muddy rags.
Boots boots boots boots.
Eternal chemists and hairdressers.
Piles of weather beaten rubble.
People clinging to the front of crowded trams.
A ridiculous flurry of cloud, like a gaggle of distant geese.
The clinging smell of dark bread and rank cigarettes, like plaster and potato peelings.
"I wish I'd never come, straight I do."
Policemen in green overcoats.
Traffic on the right.
Forever thumbing.
A foreign tongue all round.
Clean barracks, good food.
"Naafi, chum?"
Military signs nailed to every tree.
Wide autobahn and temporary bridges.
"Spades it is."
Stone stairs and echoing corridors.
Gaunt shells of churches.
Old men burrowing in dustbins.
"I'm jarred off, straight I am."
Heavy kit and long journeys.
Selling cigarettes for marks, watches, irons.
No mail.
And the beauty of the country round.
"Bloody roll on, roll bloody on".


  1. What a great poem; so descriptive of a poor homesick person in a foreign country and of a German town.

  2. Such an evocative poem. Re-reading it several times and each read reveals new sight.

  3. hmmm - pulls one right back into another time, another place . . .

  4. Good morning Friko,
    hope that the Walküren of Wagner are able to paint a brighter picture nowadays, even though traffic is on the right ;)
    Agree however partially with the 'good discribtion' of a German city.

  5. That gave me shivers.
    Walking delirium of Germany - I only saw it in the mid fifties and the remnants of the fever were still in evidence.
    Beautifully written.

  6. Very strong poem, beautifully written and observed. It made me shudder and marvel.
    Do you play the piano? I enjoyed reading about your day and its purposes and encounters.

  7. Fantastic poem !! njoyed reading it..Thanks for sharing..Unseen Rajasthan

  8. Darlene, CH, Celeste Maia, Unseen Rajasthan

    thank you all for the praise, but it wasn't meant to be a poem. However, seeing that you all saw it as one, I am going to say it is one! It started out as a list of much-repeated images and feelings; re-reading it I can see how you came by your opinion. thank you all.

    Bonnie - it is a time that is long gone.

    robert - I was too small to remember it and you can only know it from history books. They didn't teach us anything about German history of the time in school.

    Pondside - I remember it from the 50s, I went to school there then. It was nothing out of the ordinary for me, I knew no better.

  9. What memories. What a poem. That war, which happened in my lifetime, seems so present in the diary and poem.

  10. Yes, it's definitely a poem - and a very good one.

  11. Beautiful poem and depressing at the same time. You managed to portray the exact atmosphere and scenario as it was. I could imagine that you were passing along and taking in the scenery with keen observation and profound concern deeply embedded behind an expressionless facade.

  12. Celtic Heart has expressed my feelings perfectly. It is very evocative and it does reveal new things at each re-read. Actually, it kinda gets under your radar and takes you by surprise.

  13. 20th C Woman - When am Rich - Stargazer - Dave King -

    Okay, a poem it is. thank you all.

  14. Stargazer - I clicked on you and a dental website came up. ?????

  15. This is very evocative. As I was reading each sentence I could see each sepia postcard – the words had such power. Very well done Friko.

  16. Vagabonde - thank you, I am surprised by the many favourable comments.


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