Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Squadron Leader Peter Carter bales out

"He left the microphone and clambered across to the nearest escape hatch.  Lowering himself, he sat on the edge with his legs dangling down into fog and space.  A rush of cold wind struck his legs, in violent contrast to the heat of the plane.  Yes, he had  his own conception of the Other World, as well as some of the old traditional ideas.  The big, white wings, for instance.  He insisted on retaining them.  They were essential to any Other World. For the rest, well he imagined something like a great office with vistas of filing cabinets, because there must be an awful lot of records to be kept, and a large clerical staff.  But, above all, there would be a great dignity and peace -- the serenity that came from an ordered existence where Justice and the Law remained unchallenged.  Kindness and an utter freedom from the ruinous prejudices of this world would mark human relationships.

The excitement and elation had left him now and he felt quiet and calm.  He stared down into the fog and murmured his last poem, with great seriousness and solemnity,

'The pine-tree drops its dead;
They are quiet, as under the sea.
Overhead, overhead
Rushes life in a race,
As the clouds the clouds chase;
      And we go,
And we drop like the fruits of the tree,
      Even we,
      Even so.'

Glancing back at the body of the dead operator he said: 'See you in a minute, Bob.  You know what they wear by now.  Propellers or wings ...'
Raising himself  slightly on his hands, he slipped gently out of the plane.  The great uncanny wounded monster lurched on, obsessed with its own approaching end and oblivious of his departure."

A Matter of Life and Death ( the book of the film)  Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

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