We were between two wars. The borders were never completely open but the trains did not stop too long at the variously colored international barriers. People asked each other for loans, not only people but countries, as if nothing had happened, going about their lives with miraculous confidence. And, what was still more miraculous, they received the loans - long-term loans - and they built houses, big ones, small ones, and generally behaved as though they had seen the back of painful, terrible times for ever, as though it was an entirely new era, so that now everything was as it should be, they could plan far ahead, bring up their children, and give themselves over to individual pleasures that were not only delightful but even a touch superfluous. That was the world in which I started traveling - the world between two wars. I can’t say that the feeling I set out with, and which I experienced at various stopping places on my journey, was one of absolute security. We behaved like people who had, to their surprise, been robbed of everything: our whole lives were tinged with suspicion during the brief period between two wars in Europe. We - all of us, individuals and nations - made enthusiastic efforts to be generous and big-hearted but - secretly at any rate – we carried revolvers in our pockets and would occasionally reach for our wallets in the pocket above our hearts. Not just for our wallets, probably, but for our hearts and minds too, because we feared for them too.
Redrafting the redrafts means, of course, re-reading everything. After a shaky start I am having to correct a great deal less. Márai remains fascinating because all his thinking is dramatised and forensically clear.
As for Chilcot, I have read parts and seen parts, and I can't help thinking Blair cuts a far more impressive figure than ever Brown has managed. People demand Blair should express regret, because, as Yeats put it, he sent men out to die. Regretting each individual death is, however, one thing. Regret over the decision to launch a war is something else. The notion of distinct spheres of life is something that interested Márai.
Just as, to pick another leading news item, the affair of the married Chelsea and England footballer, John Terry, with the girlfriend of a (now ex-) team-mate, seems to me to be distinct from the sphere of public interest. The public interest argument is as much about the right to prurience as about fitness for office.
Now back to redrafting the redrafting.