Happy New Year. I can make one safe prediction – there will not be another book from my pen in 2018. Plenty of other writing though, if you know where to look.
There has been much criticism of late, particularly from the spectacularly dogma-filled campuses of British universities, about how the British Empire was a disaster for mankind (other than perhaps the British ruling classes). And in consequence its disintegration was to be applauded. This line of thinking rather overlooks the benefits brought by the continuing thriving of the Commonwealth, nurtured carefully by our dear Monarch. This was all brought to mind by a piece in the book I am currently reading, Jungle Soldier – a biography of Frederick Spencer Chapman by Brian Moynahan:
“Also being tortured now [in Kuala Lumpur by the Japs in WW2] was PG Pamadasa, a teacher on the staff of St. Francis’ Institution in Malacca. Only medium-wave radios were allowed: their limited range restricted them to Japanese-controlled propaganda stations. The penalty for having a short-wave radio capable of picking up foreign broadcasts was death. Pamadasa, who had a short-wave set, was betrayed, tortured, and sentenced to hang. The day before he died, he wrote a final testament to his old boys:
I am writing this in my cell with manacled hands on the eve of my execution. I am no felon but a patriot condemned to death for listening to the BBC News and telling it to pro-British friends. I did this for two years till I was betrayed. The Kempetai tortured me and finally sentenced me to be hanged… I have no regrets… I have always cherished British sportsmanship, justice and the Civil Service as the finest things in an imperfect world. I die for these. My enemies fail to conquer my souls, I forgive them for what they did to my poor frail body… To my dear Old Boys, tell them their teacher died with a smile on his lips…”