Exposed: The Church’s Darkest Secret, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, Director Ben Steele

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000dbq7/exposed-the-churchs-darkest-secret-series-1-episode-1

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000dbjd/exposed-the-churchs-darkest-secret-series-1-episode-2

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

King James Bible, Matthew 18:16.

I’ve never heard the term ‘de-arrested’. Yet this is what happened to The Right Reverend Peter Ball in 2012. He was re-arrested in 2014, charged and pled guilty to two counts of indecent assault and one count of misconduct in a public office after admitting the abuse of 18 young men from 1977 to 1992. In October 2015 he was sentenced to 32 months in prison. He served 16 months and is now dead. Job done?

Sheep in wolf’s clothing and paedophile priests have become clichéd. Cover ups in the Roman Catholic Church – see for example, the book and film Spotlight – and the pronunciation on the issue by Pope Francis and promise of reforms in reporting clerical abuse are rightly seen as too little and too late.

‘God weeps for the victims of sexual abuse.’

A whole army of churchman go to work applying whitewash and victim blaming. People in high places don’t like to be screwed. They prefer to do the screwing. Institutional cover ups are old news.

I was reminded watching this programme of an unpublished book written by scratch on ABCtales. The protagonist is taken from church school and sexually abused and passed around the clergy. Phil Johnson reports a similar, but historical narrative. He only went to the police after her realised his brother has also been sexually abused as a kid. Choosing the victim, isolating him (or her) and making them feel powerless and terrified of being caught for a crime they didn’t commit is the first step.

The Reverend Roy Cotton, for example, ‘groomed me (10-year-old Philip Johnson) pretty much from the first time that I ever met him’.

Johnson was working class and easy meat for politely spoken middle and upper-class men in positions of power. In March 1954, just six weeks before the date of his intended ordination, Reverend Roy Cotton was banned from the Scout Movement. A Scoutmaster, he was found guilty of indecently exposing himself to a child in an organ loft. He was still ordained and reports of him sexually abusing boys followed him from school to school. He was re-appointed as a Scoutmaster. Perhaps that’s where we get the term re-arrested.

Cotton in 1974 was appointed as parish priest at St Andrew’s Church in Eastbourn and Johnson was a choirboy.

Cotton took Johnson, when he was 15 years old, to stay with Reverend Colin Pritchard. This bit is pretty much identical to how scratch described the scene in his unpublished novel. Johnson awoke the next morning to find himself naked in Pritchard’s bed, having being plied with booze having no memory of the previous night. Pritchard then sexually assaulted him in the kitchen, He would later plead guilty to this assault and like Cotton had a long string of previous that where logged by Church authorities and buried.

Johnson reports another visitor to the gathering of paedophiles. The Right Reverend Ball had Johnson sit on his lap and felt up under his shorts and stroked his genitals as he had a conversation with Cotton. Ball was sexually aroused.

Neil Todd also described how Bishop of Gloucester Peter Ball asked him to strip naked and beat him with a whip. Ball was also naked, but claimed in a police report that if he did ejaculate it was out with his control and accidental.

He’d appeared on The Terry Wogan Show as the friendly face of Anglicism and a saintly figure that has set up an informal monastery to channel young men into a Godly life and find their vocation. He had friends in high places. The same friends as Jimmy Savile, most notably Margaret Thatcher.  Prince Charles who provided a house for Ball in the Dutchy of Cornwall, and through him connections to other royals such as the Queen Mother. Friends in the House of Lords and of course friends in the judiciary such as Lord Anthony Lloyd who was Lord Justice at the time and was more than happy to pick up the phone and give any local constabulary plod that dared to question his friend Reverend Ball an earful.  Anglican Church leaders at Lambeth Palace, Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey.

Here we have a Keystone Cops type interlude in which Carey appoints another Bishop who used to be a private investigator to use funds from the Anglican Church to investigate the victims of Ball’s crimes and rehabilitate him. The report concluded that Ball was a multiple abuser in cases which had stretched back years. The report like many others from victims of Ball’s crimes was buried.

Guilty Peter Ball.

Guilty Roy Cotton

Guilty Colin Pritchard

Guilty of criminal neglect: Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey et al. Prince Charles. Lord Anthony Lloyd. David Cameron’s godfather, Conservative MP Tim Rathbone.

Neil Todd R.I.P.  The Establishment fucked you up. We did not listen. We have let you down.

Louis Theroux, Selling Sex, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, Director Joshua Baker, written and presented by Louis Theroux.


https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000dbcf/louis-theroux-selling-sex

Louis Theroux is repeating himself. He’s done this before, tackling the sex industry, but now he’s looking the British model. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, in a Carry On kinda way. Sex sells even if it’s documentary sex and Theroux has pretty much a free hand with the BBC who buy any old muck he wants to sell.

Selling sex is legal in Britain as long as it doesn’t involve coercion, exploitation or public nuisance.

Ethical or moral issues are more difficult to resolve. Let me put this quite simply, sticking PROSTITUTE on your CV isn’t going to open many doors, but it may lead to a few enquiries about how much you charge.

Theroux, of the raised eyebrow to indicate emotion, does a good job of sitting on the fence. Friendly and distant enough to be a good guide for us to look into and at this self-selecting cohort.

They must agree to be filmed. Many prostitutes wouldn’t want to be filmed on national telly. Maybe they wouldn’t want their mum or dad to know, or their neighbours or friends. What seems quaint or even funny, Theroux investigating legal brothels stateside, or the porn industry, generally, seems more like exploitation this side of the Atlantic. More of the Jeremy Kyle brand of establishing faux truths while making cash from selling sex with the trademark shout – go and get a job.

We frequently hear women talk about empowerment. Victoria is 25 and has four kids. She uses social media to contact clients and charges £250 an hour. Four clients a day and she’s home for the kids coming home from school. Good job. Wages of sin pay well.

Ashley’s 23 and she’d got Asperger’s and is a student. She sells her body to fund her studies. Her flatmate and friends are cool with that. She says she only picks guys she’d fuck anyway. One client, for example, is 25 and has hundreds of positive reviews, proclaiming what a big cock he’s got and how he knows how to use it. Louis follows her to the meeting with him. And she comes out happy with £300, saying she wouldn’t have minded him as a boyfriend. One of her pals has agreed to book Ashley for sex. Afterwards they’ll just go back to being friends. All her pals agree that’s what will happen.

To balance it out a bit Louis follows an older couple Graham and Caroline, probably late fifties. She works as an escort, not really for the money, but because it turns her on. She was frigid and now she’s free line. What turns Caroline on, turns Graham on. Most STD are in the over-fifty grouping so being hip and modern and flower power and yeh, yeh, yeh, personally, I don’t care. These are the least interesting of the group. Dressing up the issues.  

Let’s talk about class and exploitation. I’m thrown back to another one of Theroux’s documentaries in which he asks a  women that’s going to kill herself—she does—because her boyfriend is dead, she’s in a wheelchair and she’s going to lose her home, what would you do if you had enough money?

Commonalities. Victoria’s mum and dad were a mess and she was out of the house when she was 15, pounced upon because she was homeless and vulnerable by an older man in his twenties. He had a house, she didn’t, but she did have a body he could use.

Ashely was abused by a family friend between the ages of six and twelve. It left her feeling reckless and betrayed. Selling herself was her revenge.

Victoria has a daughter, Sapphire, who knows her mum’s a prostitute. The boys are too young to be told (emm they know and if they don’t there pals will soon tell them after seeing mum’s big tits on BBC 2).  Theroux asked the question. ‘Would Victoria want Sapphire to be a prostitute?’

‘No.’

Victoria knows the answer to that one immediately. He didn’t point out that’s the age she started selling herself. Like mother, like daughter?

That’s all the answer I need. People want a better life for their kids. Traditionally, middle-class doctors and lawyers wanted their sons to be lawyers and doctors and carry on the family tradition, perhaps get a bit higher. They didn’t want their daughters to be prostitutes. That was a path marked out for the lower class. Here it is again, re-emerging in new clothes. We live in a fucked-up world when you need to sell your body to pay for education or to feed your kids and provide a roof over their head. Perhaps a bit more.  That’s what I think. No sitting on the fence for me. We’re back to Victorian society. Them and Us. It’s all to do with class.

Social mobility is dead – long live the queen, social media and false gods of making yourself famous.

We’ve always had prostitutes argument (check your Bible) missed the point. We’ve always had people sleeping on the streets, but now it’s an epidemic and normalised. When the best society can offer our youngsters is to get their tits out for the boys surely that’s not empowerment?

Max Porter (2015) Grief Is The Thing With Feathers

I’m a bit stupid. I wasn’t sure if this was fact of fiction or fictionalised fact. I’m still not sure. This short book had me thinking, which is often a good thing. But I don’t really get it, which is a bad thing – right?

I’ve been to a few funerals this year and I wrote in memorial that ‘Grief was too small a word’.

Setting the tone in Max Porter’s book, split into three short chapters –beginning, middle and end—is not so much a prologue as an intrusion, a short verse by Emily Dickinson.

That Love(Crow) is all there is/Is all we know of (Crow)Love/It is enough, the freight (Crow)should be/Proportioned to the groove (Crow).   

Crow is pencilled in (which isn’t possible in printed books) but it seeks to given that effect, a kind of graffiti.

Having read the book, quickly, as I’ve a tendency to do, I’m assuming it’s kinda hip. Crow as a narrator is mocking the more genteel poetry of Dickinson.

Boys as narrators, motherless sons, would I’d imagine call this wanky. They did seem to get it right.

We found a fish in a pool and tried to kill it but the fish was too big and the fish was too quick so we damned it and smashed it.

Dad as narrator.

Four or five days after she died, I sat alone in the living room wondering what to do. Shuffling around, waiting for the shock to give way, waiting for any kind of structured feeling to emerge from the organisational fakery of my days. I felt hung-empty.

‘Hung-empty’ is genius.

Crow as narrator.

Very romantic, how we first met. Badly behaved. Trip trap. Two-bed upstairs flat, slightly barbed-error, snuck in easy through the wall and up the attic bedroom to see those cartoon boys silently sleeping, intoxicating hum of innocent childhood…

I get that part, the narrator whose wife has died and left two sons is a Ted Hughes scholar. Crow is part of the Hughes cycle of poetry. I sped-read through a few of Hughes’s Crow poems and I guess Porter mimics the affect.

I lack the key to decipher meaning. Some mentor would have to guide me through it word for word, image by image. When reading becomes work, I switch off. My eyes are seeing, but my brain is unconnected. There is no emotional resonance. This is babble to me. Poetry is never finished, just abandoned school of thought.  I have failed as a reader and remain in limbo. Life is too short to worry. No need to crow about it.   Read on.

Storyville, Terror in the Jungle, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, Director Shan Nicholson, Executive Producer Jennifer Davisson and Leonardo DiCaprio.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000d27r/storyville-jonestown-terror-in-the-jungle-episode-1

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000d28j/storyville-jonestown-terror-in-the-jungle-episode-2

Most news stories start their pitch with the headline and in an inverted triangular shape begins to tell the rest of the story in terms of cause and effect. I’ll modify this a little here. Jim Jones was born in rural Indiana at the height of the Depression 1931. Phyllis Zimmerman who lived nearby remembered him as a strange kid. While other kids rode their bikes and played baseball, Jones liked to gather the other kids and hold ceremonies for roadkill. There were five churches nearby and Jones attended them all taking a bit of each from the holy rollers filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in voices to the hell-and-damnation crowd that believed everyone outside their church was doomed to eternal hellfire – which they richly deserved. While other kids played American soldiers when playing rat-a-tat war games, few if any wanted to play German or Nips. Jones preference was for being a German, he was fascinated with the way in which Hitler was able to manipulate the masses. That was the kind of power he craved.

If you were making notes for a novel and you’d ran with this scenario you could pretty much spit out a 100 000 word first draft in three months. One of the problems you’d face would be what kind of job would you give Jones? My first thought would be truck driver, perhaps with a bit of preaching on the side. Salesman would also be good. At a push I’d have went with schoolteacher in a run-down school, or janitor. Dogs and cats would go missing. He’d be a weirdo that tortured animals, but never got caught. He’s graduate to torturing and killing prostitutes and hitchhikers. Serial killer.

  The headline would not have been.  18 November 1978, 918 men, women and around 300 children lost their lives at Jonestown, established by the People’s Temple in northern Guyana victims of Fla-Vor-Ad (cheaper type of Kool Aid) laced with cyanide.  

They’d travelled to the capital, Georgetown, by plane in twos and threes to avoid detection by American authorities who they suspected were monitoring airports and then on by boat to the interior which took around twelve hours. Jonestown and The People’s Temple was surrounded by jungle, the nearest village was around twelve miles away.  

For fiction writers the question wouldn’t have been why did they kill themselves and their children? Or why did others do the killing work for Jim Jones. The history of genocide in China, Europe and Africa and Middle East follows much the same pattern. Milgram’s experiment on obedience and the Stanford Prison experiment pretty much shapes the story of how a cohort would react and here it is played out in real life.

Witnesses that escaped the cult of Jim Jones, including two of Jim Jones’s adopted sons, Jim Jones (Junior) and Stephan Jones, part of the so-called Rainbow family, made up of different ethnic groups offer insider accounts. Jim Jones liked his followers to call him ‘Father’. And his wife, to be called ‘Mother’. They tell us how it worked. I couldn’t help thinking of David Koresh, also a self-appointed Messiah, who preached the apocalypse. Didn’t allow his followers to have sex, but the Messiah slept with young girls. Took drugs. Endlessly lectured about the end of times. Appointed a Praetorian Guard to enforce discipline and punish those that tried to escape. All property was forfeit and given to the self-appointed Messiah. All labour was communal and given freely.

We also have outsider’s accounts from newspapermen who broke the story of Jim Jones cult in California to authors such as Jeff Guiann The Road to Jamestown. And reports from the FBI.

If it was a work of fiction Jim Jones might have been a politician with local success. He had the well-manicured look of a white man on the make and had the right blend of deceit, ruthlessness and narcissism to make it to the very top. All of these things would be labelled as charisma. Jim Jones had charisma.  A man that also stages his own death by gunshot wounds and miraculous resurrection wouldn’t quake at telling us a few hard truths and how he was going to fix it.

When Jim Jones found out the net was closing in and there was no fixing it, he decided his followers were going down with him. He’s already tested his Praetorian guard telling them he’d poisoned them to see how they’d react. They reacted the way he expected. They gave him their continued loyalty after he said he’d faked it. In the end there was no faking it. Those that didn’t want to die were helped along to meet their maker. The apocalypse did come for 1000 poor souls. To call Jim Jones a madman is to assume it won’t happen again. It has and it will. I was interested to hear one of his followers that had the strength to escape with her son validate what I said, say exactly that. We live in dangerous times. If I was writing fiction I’d say much the same thing. When fact and fiction cross X marks the problem. Modern cults aren’t restricted to churches they’ve moved mainstream.

Robert A. Caro (1982) Lyndon Johnson volume 1 The Path To Power.

History doesn’t run in straight lines. Robert A. Caro has focussed on a fixed point to talk about power. What it is? How it comes about. Who wields it? And how do they use that power? And in his biography of Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ), in this first of four volumes, we follow not only the tale of LBJ, who becomes 36th President of the United States, but the story of the United States, a modern history.

Novels begin with flawed characters that need or want something. LBJ was born 28th August 1908 in the Lone Star State of Texas. His grandparents had fought against the Indians and the Mexicans and this was the frontier in which nothing grew but farms. Land was cheap, farmers with little water and poor soils were literally dirt poor. His father Sam Johnson great dream was that his son would be a lawyer. His mother Rebakah’s was a college graduate and her father was a prominent attorney. Mr Sam Johnson was something, he strutted rather than walked:

‘You can tell a man by his boots and his hat and the horse he rides.’

Mr Sam Johnson was an elected official, people liked him. He had the best and his first son had more and better than most. LBJ had a baseball to play with, but would only play when he got to bat. His rules or nobody plays was a rule he lived by then and in later life.

In novels flawed characters get their comeuppance. Mr Sam Johnson was a romantic. He tried to live in the past when his forefathers had their own ranches in the Hill County and run cattle hundreds of mile to the railway line and brought home bucketfuls of dollars that would last more than a lifetime.  Mr Sam Johnson gambled his all to buy land and invest in cotton, which was on the up and up after the First World War. He borrowed from the banks, and from neighbours. The price of cotton crashed. Mr Sam Johnson, his wife and four children has to retire from public life, move from Johnson City back to live in a dog run in the Hill Country.  

People have long memories. Locals loved nothing more than chewing over when Sam Johnson thought he was something and now couldn’t pay his store bills in town. Women mulled over how Rebekah didn’t know how to keep a clean house. She wasn’t thrifty. She didn’t know how to bottle and can pears for later so her children wouldn’t go hungry. Nothing had prepared her for life in the Hill Country.

One of the strength of Cato’s biography is not only that he should turn over the pages of every of the tens of millions of government documents concerning LBJ, which took seven years,  and talk to local people who remembered him as a boy and young man, but also that he went to live in the Hill Country to find out what it was really like. There are frequent markers about rural poverty. A farmer’s son, for example, rides for twelve miles clutching twelve eggs to sell them for fifteen cents. Kids not being able to go to school in winter when it snowed because they’d no shoes. But only until chapter 27 of 37 chapters when LBJ as a congressman tries to break the monopoly of the utilities companies and get electricity to farms on the Hill Countries—prior to the Second World War—does how hard these women’s live were become apparent. Monday was washing day and Tuesday was ironing day. In dog runs with metal roofs above their heads,  working in temperatures over 100 degrees Celsius, women had to chop wood, carry and boil buckets of water to heat the irons in them to work with the crumpled washing they’d cleaned on Monday. Irons were lumps of metal with metal handles, because handles with wood coverings cost a few cents more. This was in addition to all other chores, like feeding the animals and a large family.  Farmer’s wives were round shouldered and old by the time they were thirty. They couldn’t afford doctoring so the perinatal tears most of them suffered from frequent childbirths went untreated. In the Twentieth Century they lived in the Middle Ages.  

Sam Johnson frequently whipped LBJ for not doing his chores, for refusing to carry wood or water for the mother he so much loved he wrote to her every day when he went to college and demanded letters by return post. An escape route for the poor was education.   LBJ baulked at it, but he went. He was never more than an average student, but a pattern emerges here that was to follow him all the way to Washington. He was known as ‘Bull’ (shit) Johnson to most other students. Garrulous as a manic depressive on an upcycle, his one subject and fascination was with himself. Later, when at parties and the subject wasn’t himself or his achievements, he had the ability to fall instantly asleep.   He was always ready to take the next step before others realised there was another step. To get ahead he was ready to sacrifice everyone and anyone. To paraphrase what others in the dormitory he shared in Washington with other secretaries of Congressmen and up-and-coming talent. Whatever way the (political) wind blows that’s the way Johnson goes.  His great talent, his ‘very unusual ability’ was secrecy and jumping before he was pushed.

Apart from getting others to do what he demanded, LBJ’s other ‘very unusual ability’ was hooking onto older men as mentors to smooth his path. ‘A professional son’ they never had, and asslicker of the highest order. LBJ had a preternatural talent for saying exactly what they were thinking. President Cecil E. Evans of the little Redbook college which ‘Bull’ attended, for example, paid Johnson four times in a semester to re-paint his garage because he was out of money. Similarly, Sam Rayburn a principled and laconic Speaker of the House of Congress treated LBJ as a son, even after finding out about his betrayal. President Roosevelt never did find out about LBJ’s volte-face on his Keynesian, New Deal policies, because the latter was a distant speck in his orbit and the face he was presented was always deferential, smiling and joking. Roosevelt put a stop on investigations into tax fraud involving LBJ’s backers that involved millions of dollars.   LBJ could read a man and read a room in the same way most folk can read a familiar book. He was a professional politician of the first degree.

There’s irony in LBJ’s defeat when he ran for Senate representing Texas in 1941 to a cartoon figure ‘Pass the Biscuits Pappy’ O’Daniel, a wildly popular radio talk-show host who didn’t have a policy, but embraced the flag, the Star Spangled Banner, talked about Jesus and how every farmer’s son loved their mom. This was an election LBJ had bought for him, he was already celebrating victory, when he was gazumped by other business cartels that simply bought more votes than LBJ and handed them to Pappy O’Daniel. Common electoral practice that was to spring up again when Texas interests demanded a recount of the chads in Florida after Al Gore had won the election to be President in 2009. Oh, dear, a mistake was made, business interests said it should have read George W C Bush. LBJ knew how the electoral system worked, inside out and upside down. We know how LBJ was later able to rig his next bid for a seat in the Senate and steal enough votes (volume 2). Bush had to be told and told who he was working for and why because he was so dumb. That’s power for you. I never thought we’d have a President dumber than Bush. Now we’ve got the moron’s moron going for re-election before he starts the Third World War, Pass the Biscuits Pappy and reach for the sick bag.  Now we’ve got Bull Johnson as British Prime Minister whose only policy was economic self-mutilation and getting it done quickly.  History isn’t meant to be funny.    

Third World War

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Seventy-five years since the end of the Second World War. We’ve had a few close calls. The Cuban Missile Crisis, for example. Like an old Corporation bus running late the apocalypse rumbles into view. All writers are prophets for hire, waiting for the Virgin Mary to make an appearance before we take the fare. Here we have a Vision of Geronda Ephraim Addressing the Ukrainian Situation and casually flinging in his bombshell, don’t worry about that it’s the beginning of the end.

In Buddhist theology, that isn’t a theology, the perfection of wisdom can take more than one lifetime. The stage before that VIPAŚYANĀ offers a different kind of insight. The baggage of the past is let go and the tyranny of the future holds no fear. Bodhisattvas  and saints go on right on doing what they are already doing. The Buddha gets his begging bowl and begs.

Great men, of course, never beg. They’d rather set the world aflame that admit human weaknesses. There’s a certain beauty in the idea that we are all each other. The ideology of hate and contempt for the other, the so-called beggars, drives us apart. Beggar’s belief drives us to war.

God’s plan is straight, the path to achieving it is not. When we play the all-or-nothing game we must think we can win. Viktor Frankl warned us not to forget Auschwitz or the dropping of the nuclear bomb at Hiroshima. That generation is dying off and their antiquated beliefs with them.

In any narrative there’s the smoking gun and ticking clock. In Marxist narratives it was called the contradictions of capitalism that would usher in a new age of the proletariat. We’re still waiting. In the most advance industrial nations, the rich get rich and the poor get poorer. Technology, once thought of a process that would free workers, now speeds up this process.

More than half the world’s wildlife is in decline. Climate change undermines our ability to think rationally.

Whether you believe in God or your body is a simple carbon receptacle that rot and dust will return to dust, enriching the soil and feeding plant life the end is still the same, we are reliant on water. Our ecosystems are falling and failing. Without water we cannot feed ourselves. Every puddle, stream, and river becomes a battleground.

Yet the biggest public share issue that outstrips the value of Apple is based on oil wealth from Saudi Arabia. Fossil fuels are the most valuable bits of paper you can own. Contradictions of capitalism are for now paper talk.

A finger pointed at the moon is not the moon is a Buddhist dharma. A Greek orthodox priest predicting the end of the world is nothing new. Every decade brings its own apocalypse. But how do we nurse our planet back to health and prove him wrong?  Write your answers in the wind or it will be written on the bodies of your children.    

Antonio Inurbe (2019) The Librarian of Auschwitz (based on the true story of Dita Kraus) translated by Lilit Zekulin Thwaites.

Reading is my religion. This book is billed as a true story, marked down as a genre somewhere between The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Choice. The latter was a life-affirming, marvellous book, beautifully written with a clear moral message. The former – I only read the first fifty pages. I find myself in the same misgivings with The Librarian of Auschwitz as I did with The Tattooist

Here are a few examples.

A black shadow, darker than all the rest is walking along the Lagerstrasse…Dr Mengele…Mengele studies her at length. /‘I never forget a face.’/His words carry a deathly stillness. If Death were to speak, it would do so with precisely this icy cadence.   

If I was marking this I’d give it a B2. Not bad. No face ever forgotten. No cliché left unused in the cliché box.

What about a warning sign for novice writers? *Shoehorning something you really want your reader to know –  I wonder where the key to the car is that’s under the plant-pot variety?

*Dita rushes off to reassure her mother, who will have already found out about Block 31 inspection. As she runs down the Lagerstrasse she comes across her friend Margit.

“Ditnka, I hear you had in inspection in Thirty-One?”

‘That disgusting Priest!’

“Did they find anything? Did they detain anyone?”

“Absolutely nothing; there’s nothing for them to find there.’ Dita winked. ‘Mengele was there, too.”

“Dr Mengele? He’s a madman. He experimented with injections of blue ink into the pupils of thirty-six children in an attempt to produce blue-eyed people. It was horrible Ditnka. Some died of infections and others were left blind. You were lucky to escape his notice.”

In other words, you were lucky to find the car key that was under the plant pot. B2 or not B2 that is the question?

How does the author plan to tell the reader about lousy bunks and people that just won’t share?

“*It’s cold, and your parents are outside, Dita. Won’t they catch pneumonia?”

“My mother prefers not to be inside with her bunkmates, who has a lot of horrible boils…although she’s no worse than my bunkmate!”

“But you’re lucky— you both sleep on top bunks. We’re spared among the lowest bunks,” said Magrit.

“You must really feel the damp seeping up from the ground.”

“Oh Ditnka, Ditnka,”

Oh, reader, oh reader, I will not go on. Perhaps you will. I feel no sense of place. This could be Butlins, not Auschwitz. Something lost in translation? Read on.