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Friday, 29 May 2015

Steps in the Dark by Joe Willisch. Book review

Good morning. It's chucking it down outside, best stay indoors for a while. I want to get on with fixing up a door for the summer house, got a good idea, but it will have to wait till the rain stops. Yesterday I cut a piece of the plasticky roof stuff to fit a window hole just above the door. I didn't cut it from a roof panel, but from a smaller piece I already had. Blimey, sawing plastic is much harder than sawing through wood. I'm glad I didn't attempt to trim the roof panels, it would have taken me ages, with a lot of cursing. I think a special saw is needed for that job, and I am not prepared to spend money on more that the basic tools I already have. 
Right, lets get on, I have plenty to do today. First off a book review. I have just finished Steps in the Dark, by Joe Willish. It was a random pick from the mobile library. It was a fascinating read. I don't know why but I am becoming more interested in the times around the first and second world war. Could be something to do with the passing of time, and the fact that the end of the war has just been celebrated. Ancient history has never interested me, but anything to do with the time my mother was living in bombed out Hamburg seems to be drawing me in. 
Reinhold Joseph Willish was born in 1924 in the small Czechoslovakian village of Partschendorf. The simple life he had until his teens revolved around family, friends, and a passion for learning. When he was 18 years old he was forced to leave his home and family to face the fallout of Hitlers tyranny in Europe. It was a treacherous journey that led to hardship, and heartache, which eventually led to him changing homeland and nationality. 
It took many years for him to write this book because he wanted to forget everything, but his children urged him to do so. Since it has been published Joe and his family have spent some time in Czechoslovakia visiting many of the places mentioned in the book.  
Joe tells it how it really was. His warts and all tales of a tank commander on front line battles, his time in a labour camp, really brings it home on the horrors of war. Despite the content, it's an easy to read book.
A quote from Joe. "When you hide things away and keep them secret, they have power. Eventually you have to open them up, face them and lay them to rest."
This book ties in with some programmes I have been watching on BBC iplayer. There are three programmes currently, called 'Britain's Greatest Generation.' They look at stories of extraordinary courage, terrible suffering, and miraculous survival from service men and women between 1942 and 1945. I won't embed them all here, but they are on yooootooob if you want to look. Each one is around one hour long. well worth a look. 

A quick look at my food. Yesterday I had some cooked pasta to use up, so I put it in a pan with a knob of olive spread and warmed it up. Then I added two eggs and scrambled them, and some leaves of spinach. Served on a bed of fresh spinach with beetroot. A loverly lunch.
Breakfast this morning. In the mini chopper went dried fruit, almonds, two dessertspoons of porridge oats, and three prunes. Under this is Special K, I bought a box from the cash and carry at a cheap price. Won't bother again, it's like eating sawdust, but palatable with the topping and soya milk and plain yogurt.

Well it's still raining, I think I'll crack on with the shopping bags. No one has contacted me about a meet up at either Haworth or Saltaire, so I assume no one will be around. Arrangements are made to meet Simplesista at Saltaire, looking forward to that. Thanks for popping in.
Toodle pip


  1. interesting sounding book, I may put it on my list of books to read.

  2. As a youngster I had no interest in history and found the classes boring. Now I can't get enough of it. And since I'm kind of new to Texas, the history here is really fascinating.

  3. Thanks for sharing what you had for lunch. Looks delicious.

    I will be having a look on youtube at Britain's Greatest Generation.


  4. The history of WW1 and 11 is fascinating. My Grandfather came to England after WW1. He and (the family he subsequently had) lived in Peterborough. My Mother's friend at the outbreak of the 2nd World War (living in Peterborough) was interred as an enemy alien - she was German. Her name was Suzi Soam (not sure of the spelling but rhymes with foam). My Mum never saw her again. My Mum was a school girl at the time of the outbreak but was in France for her schooling. She returned home to England. Her friend (a French national) escaped the Germans but crossed France with a wheelbarrow full of her possessions. A few years ago, I met a man who had been in the German army during WW11. He showed me his papers authenticating his German bloodline. He missed being sent to the Battle of Stalingrad because he had been injured. Fascinating!

    I bet your Mum's story would be interesting. Natalie

  5. I like what that author said about secrets having power and it is good to open up and then put them to rest. WWI and WWII were quite recent history. Do you read the Jacqueline Winspear mysteries set in those times? The first one is Maisie Dobbs, and the series has lots of history in it, like when Maisie was a nurse for the troops in France during WWI. You might like it.

  6. Hi.The book sounds interesting, and I have always been curious of the past and fascinated by history.My mother and father met in a DP(displaced persons)camp just after WWII in Europe.They rarely discussed the war but when they did the stories they shared were difficult to hear.War and it's effects and aftermath are a terrible thing."The Greatest Generation"info is appreciated and will give it a look-see.We could use some of your rain here,it's been so very dry this spring.You always find time to prepare something easy but so good to eat whether from the freezer or fresh.Your good at that.Since I'm a mystery fan I will check out the Maisie Dobbs series suggested by your commenter Terra,thank you. Hope the weather clears by tomorrow for you to get at it again,:) bye for now,D.


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