Get Into Reading Group Diary #5: The Rescue Man by Anthony Quinn

It’s been a few weeks but Louise Jones is back with her diary on reading The Rescue Man.

Falling 1940-41

This section of the book opens with a quote apparently called ‘Fear of Death’ by William Hazlitt,

A lift of action and danger moderates the dread of death

This is certainly true of Baines who in the second half springs into life in more ways than one. The war obviously has a very big effect on his personality – in the reading group we have talked about why he changes so much – as the saying goes live for today because you really don’t know whether you’ll be alive in 20 minutes never mind the next day, so as they say live for the moment.

At first reading the few paragraphs of Chapter 5, you would think they were clearing up from the Blitz, but it became clearer, a bit like fog lifting, that this was only a practice. Baines could not wait for this so called ‘phoney war’ to stop and felt a lot of the time he was just play acting in a theatre – Tom used to watch with jealousy his friend Richard jump about the rubble with no fear like a superhero.

We had a discussion about why people may be more cautious, while others seem to have no fear and why some people seem to have no fear and others perhaps are just very good at hiding it. I used to adore ‘Peter Pan’ and jump off various items of furniture, my friend was perhaps more cautious but I truly believed what Jim Barrie says ‘ All you need to fly is to believe.’ I did believe but still ended on the floor with a thud! Perhaps I just needed a bit more belief in myself.

Tom has become more confident as the threat of actual war inches ever so closer to Britain so when his new work colleague Richard invites him round to his house he quite happily agrees to come and party! He has also become more enthusiastic about taking photographs for his book – perhaps because somewhere deep inside he realised that he had to move quickly before the Germans came, brining not only destruction of human life but also irreplaceable buildings, so it tugged at the heart-strings when funding for the book was halted – all projects not considered essential to the war effort were to be stopped. I could actually feel Tom’s disappointment or maybe I’m just very sentimental.

We talked for a while in the group about the sudden craze people can have about building flats on every available spot, reminding me of the song ‘Little boxes made of Ticky Tacky and they all turn out the same.’ We came to a conclusion that people often do not realise the beauty or importance of buildings till the bulldozers come and demolish it, but by then it’s far too late!

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