Overheard in London (in 1938)

From the Manchester Guardian, 29 September 1938, p. 6:

We are hearing and reading so much (writes a correspondent) of people talking in the streets, in public vehicles, and wherever they meet about the international situation that perhaps "Miscellany" may care to preserve for posterity this perfectly true and unvarnished record of a conversation overheard between two young women lunching together in London:

First Y.W.: What is all this about the Czechs?

Second Y.W.: My dear, I haven’t the faintest. I never read the papers, and when they start those news bulletins on the wireless I always switch off.

It's unclear exactly when this conversation took place -- assuming the above is indeed a 'perfectly true and unvarnished record' -- but presumably it was some time in the previous few days, when the danger of war with Germany was becoming acute. If Second Y.W. wasn't curious about the Sudeten crisis by then, with gas masks being handed out, sandbags appearing everywhere, her neighbours heading off into the countryside for safety, anti-aircraft guns being positioned around the capital, and trenches being dug in public parks … then she probably would never be.

Neville Chamberlain didn't exactly have his finger on the pulse of the nation, but when, on 27 September, he said on the BBC 'How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing', on this evidence he was not wrong!

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