chapter  1
30 Pages

Sleeping Through the Phoney War

ByWilliam Cederwell

After 3 September 1939, London entered a period of Phoney War, the so-called sitzkreig rather than blitzkrieg, and still the sleeping didn't stop. Compared to the murderous infighting in Barcelona, that fallen beacon of Republican hopes, London was a soporific mirage: it was a 'huge peaceful wilderness' with its 'miry river', its preoccupation with cricket and royal weddings, its people all sleeping 'the deep, deep sleep of England'. June 1939 also saw the publication of George Orwell's novel Coming Up for Air, in which London continues to be oblivious, a 'city of sleep-walkers' undisturbed even by the traffic on the Strand. Evelyn Waugh turned war preparation into similar absurd satire in his novel Put Out More Flags, in which a group of well-connected friends try to work out what roles and uniforms fit them best in Phoney War London.