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Drug abuse and Adolf Hitler

Drug abuse and Adolf Hitler

10/04/2002

Danger

Arrogantly thought I would be okay without Ritalin for 24 hours. Wrong.

Drinking espresso by the mug doesn’t help. The Ritalin took the edges off the prickles of my mind. Last night the Ritalin wore off around 4.00 p.m. and at first I didn’t notice.

Today I sit down to write and I write first a bit of this, then a piece of that. I cannot settle down to anything, however hard I try. I squeeze out 700 words with little enthusiasm.

This is for ‘The Time Telescope’.

I should be on fire with it.

I have a rich volume of material, books, plans, photographs I’ve taken all over Northern France. And most valuable of all both the original tapes and transcripts of an interview I conducted with a veteran of the Third Battle of Ypres. He was awarded the Military Medal. For a three month period he was within 200 yards of Adolf Hitler, who earlier in that ‘push’ was based in the wrecked village of Langemarck.

This old veteran was a machine gunner. Age 97

I arrange to visit the armoury at the Imperial War Museum, London. I wish I’d filmed it. He got down behind the gun, reached out, and to the armourer’s surprise unscrewed a tiny cap in the top of one of the handle that contains a brush. The kind of thing you’d use for basting pastry. The armourer, in his thirties, had never come across this before. He said he thought the brush was missing from the kit. We laugh.

Anyway, this old man, based in a Gerry pillbox looking into Houlthurst Forest, that they had taken the week before, he is 21 … takes a German Prisoner who unwittingly stumble into their position. Lifts the oil sheet during a gas attack, is grabbed by Jack, the old man, and shoved to the ground.

Although originally a Vicker’s Machine Gun required a five man team, Jack and Dick Piper, have to keep their gun in action. This is hindered by the German’s presence. Dick wants to finish him off, Jack is unwilling to do that. Its another eight hours before they are relieved and the prisoner is taken off down the duckboards. More gas comes over and this Gerry does a runner.

Jack tells me, the week he dies, that he is certain to this day that the German who stumbled into their pill box in November 1917 was Hitler.

Jack could draw, pulls out these sketches he did of the man. I check it out.

I need more on Hitler’s movements during the autumn of 1917.

So what bogs me down in the story is how to make it convincing.

Thinks out loud

I guess I need to do a bit of a Forest Gump. If Jack had met other figures from the era, by chance, then the ‘forces of time’ or something would make it likely that he would ‘attract’ figures such as Hitler to him?

This rings true because his company Major was Montgomery. Jack was one of those shadow figures, I guess, like Zelig, who also happened to ‘be there’.

Without Ritalin I could not write this

See. I’ve come through. There was a balls up at the Chemist (Pharmacy), they didn’t have my prescription this afternoon, ordered yesterday. I am on edge, becoming impolite and impatient. I liken myself to a hedgehog; I have spikes. The Ritalin files off the spikes. Makes me polite. Smiley. Understanding. For a few hours this afternoon I had to recognise my problem. I drive 22 miles to get the prescription and slip a couple of pills into my mouth in the car home. That was (look at watch) 90 minutes ago.

The fog lifts

(Huge, post-coital kind of deep breath and sigh).

So what next? Teasing me, 12 inches from the end of my nose there is a short story, yet another short story. 2,000 words. One of several that burst into life earlier this week. (I’ve said thanks to the person and circumstances that tripped me into this slurry of ideas). Several others along the same theme queue up for attention. The product of that drive I hadn’t expected to make. This happens all the time. Familiarity ain’t stimulating, I need uspets. I’m like a ball of mercury, static until something or someone sets me in motion.

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