Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Scraper's Diary, Tuesday 1st April, 1947

chapter 21

Münsterlager, Tuesday morning,

We got back to Münsterlager at 1.15 am. It was a most successful outing, I am writing this with a stylo pen I bought, among other things.

Two rather amusing incidents occurred, in one shop I advanced to the counter and was greeted with  "Good Afternoon, sir",  in faultless Oxford English. There was no time to think of a new gambit, so I enquired  "Do you speak English? I wonder if you have any opals?......"

The other incident occurred in a scent shop. The proprietor proffered three bottles invitingly and said  "parfum, ver' nice, good smell?"

"Yes", I said, "It stinks".

He nodded and, I'm sure, added a new word to his salesman's vocabulary.

String orchestra will play at 12.30. Our first job since Sunday week last. Have polished all buttons, and blancoed all webbing equipment. Moreover, I have shaved. Moreover, I have pressed both service dress and battle dress. I'm becoming almost like a poor imitation of a soldier.

Morning was nothing brilliant, but it was dry and warm, and passing lorries left us marooned in a cloud of dust, and the sky was too clear. I didn't notice how still it was until a gentle breeze decided to announce itself.

The breeze liked the place and brought some of his friends, the clouds, along, and then, for half an hour, the sun was obscured and a thorough shower of rain baptized the camp.

I left the block at half past three, to have my first bath since we reached Germany, and my heart and mind were cleansed by the new innocence of everything;  where every birch twig swelled into a bud, a pearl lay silently. The roads were fresh and lorries left no dust to dim the fretted filigree of the trees' tracery against the gently moving fronds of cloud, and my heart sang of Spring and love, and laughed at its own ingenuousness.

For no reason, save that the thought came to me unheralded, I wish to protest against the application of the word 'wholesome' to a person. It merely means 'unresponsive, unemotional and undersexed. I'd sooner be unwholesome than so negative.


Münsterlager, Thursday, April 3rd

Today, our last here, has been marked by a rash of rumours.

First, the report went round that we were to parade at ten for the purpose of changing our battle dresses before the time when we have to pay for all replacements. We were also to take our service dress so that the tailor could press it. We were also to receive our free issue of cigarettes. As it grew nearer the time the reports grew faster and more erratically.

Eventually, we received an order! We were to take our service dress to be pressed. Soon after we came back from the tailor, we were served with our NAAFI ration (forty cigarettes, the sergeants got eighty). As to free issue of kit change, we are still uninformed, but there is a new rumour, that we are not sailing until the fourteenth.

Roll on, bloody roll on.


  1. I agree witht the Scraper - 'wholesome' should be reserved for milk and cheese.
    I imagine quite a few new words were introduced to post-war Europe by people like the Scraper - English teachers were most likely bemused for a generation by the odd and often profane phrases offered by otherwise gentile students. I remember once in Germany, when going for a medical test, being told "Madame, free your chest". That brought forth some very odd images, but I complied.

  2. Another insightful extract from the Scraper's diary. I always look forward to the next one and I'm never disappointed when it appears.

  3. I think you had this posted earlier and my comment disappeared when you took it down...??
    It was such an insightful, deep analysis of your incredible work here....but, poof! it is gone.

    The Scraper seems to have a lot of romance and a lyrical way with words. Have you ever shared with your readers how you became involved with his diary, Friko? If so, I missed it and am quite curious.

  4. " left no dust to dim the fretted filigree of the trees' tracery against the gently moving fronds of cloud"
    superb wordmanship.

  5. It is indeed a fine piece of writing. I like to read anything you write. I love to write too, but I get carried away and write too much and get off the track. I do enjoy working with the pictures and other gadgets associated with the blogging.

  6. Thanks for answering the prayer request. Patient came through surgery, but in critical condition.

  7. You are a real historian,
    historical novelist perhaps?

    Aloha, Friend!

    Comfort Spiral

  8. I wonder what happened to Scraper after the war. He should have become an author.

  9. Priceless, the two amusing incidents.

  10. How shall I say this? You have great imagery of time past – and great style with lovely vocabulary. It is a wonderful skill.

  11. Pondside - Machen Sie sich die Brust frei - no, I doubt that that would be said today. Did you giggle at all?

    Martin H - thank you Martin; the Scraper has a few days left in Germany.

    Bonnie - The Scraper gave it to me to edit and publish.

    Fran Hill - thanks, I was in two minds; it could be seen as too purple.

    her at home - that's the bit I mean, not too purple?

    QMM - and you do very well indeed. Hope the patient is on the mend.

    Cloudia - flatterer!

    Darlene - The Scraper was then, and remained throughout his life, a musician, Darlene.

    Dave King - thank you Dave.

    Vagabonde - another flatterer!


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