"The handkerchief industry?! Don't get me started on the handkerchief industry!"
Towards the end of his Orwell: The authorised biography Michael Shelden talks about Orwell’s final days before his death from tuberculosis in January 1950.
He discusses some of Orwell’s last notebooks, in particular where the author remarks – calmly – on his fatal illness. Sheldon says
He was always analysing, always standing to one side and observing, trying to make some sense of this life. Perhaps, before the end, there was time for one last analysis, one brief thought about the final adventure. Whatever it was, it does not matter that it was lost. The voice remains. I can hear it. It begins, ‘Curiously enough…’
That’s some fine writing. What I particularly like is that the author, just once, towards the end of the book, comes out from behind the curtain (so to speak) to talk to us directly.
It was once said of Orwell that “he couldn’t blow his nose without moralising about working conditions in the handkerchief industry”.
The book itself is an absolute cracker of a read about a man who could be, shall we say, a trifle prickly.
Oh and it's also Yom Kippur.
I trust you're all out there, atoning.