There is a real sense of a generation standing aside letting the Second World War usher in the chance for another group of people to have a go and make legends for themselves. Uncle Giles dies, the old cook from Jenkins youthful home is domesticated and showing his age and the old doctor who had strolled past Jenkins boyhood home with his followers in tow is also nearing the end.
But Jenkins, ever the watcher not the participant, discovers that he is slightly too old to get into the army and take part in the forthcoming conflict. He finds, along with his own father, that he is slightly caught in the no-man’s land of being in the wrong generation.
The sense of that panic that also pervades the early sections of Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy is here with the phoney war a time of no bombs but constant clamouring for a chance to get into uniform. Without firing a shot Hitler had already managed to endanger honour and question the worthiness of many people represented by Nicholas Jenkins.
Final chunk tomorrow…