The Spike: or, Victoria College Review Capping Carnival 1922
"Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh." That may be so, but to-day, unhappily, one huge joke, that should really be of universal appeal, is falling sadly flat. Our sense of humour seems to have gone astray. We laugh at the fox trot and forget Flanders : we laugh at the jazz and forget Jutland: we laugh at the pantomime and forget Plug-street. Yet Flanders, Jutland and Plug-street are funnier infinitely than the average pantomime, or the fox-trot, or that revolting conglomeration of hideous discords£the jazz. In their present mood, to all good people surely the late war must appeal as a well of inexhaustible merriment. It was a war to end war, and the world was never fuller than now of bitter internecine strife, and the threat of catastrophic upheaval and revolution. It was a war to make the world safe for democracy, and never in the history of mankind has a more violent attack been made upon the democratic principle than has been seen in Russia in the last five years on the part of Lenin and his pudding-brained bludgeoners of the oppressed proletariat. We were told that the cause was a holy, a sacred one; and in the fine fervour of generous feeling that ran through the Empire in those far off days of 1915, we were fools enough to believe it. Purified in the fierce furnace of war the vicious would return to a world of peace good and worthy citizens, the weak would become strong, the strong would return gaudily clothed in iridescent haloes to lead our peoples to the promised land. What is the position to-day ? In the high places the fat flourish and the fuddled flounder; and if the returned soldier dare to lift his voice in the market place with the meek suggestion that this isn't what the war was fought for£God help him! That is why in contemplating in retrospect the last eight years of heroic pursuit of a will-o'-the wisp, and the failure of the war to accomplish anything, I was moved to suggest that we are overlooking to-day many things that might prove most delicately humorous to those who appreciate a good joke£to those who by virtue of the fact that they are not of their number, can realise the subtle humour arising out of the fruitless death of their fellow-beings£their fruitless suffering and disablement.
In "'Struth" then I have attempted to set forth the point of view of the returned soldier. Bearing in mind the advice of the He Ancient "when a thing is funny, search it for a hidden truth" I have attempted to throw a cloak of fun as far as possible over the theme. If you can't find the theme for the fun, blame me. If you can't find the fun for the theme, blame me also. If you can't find either the fun or the theme, you'll undoubtedly blame me whether I tell you to or not; and at that we will leave it.page 6
I wish to thank Miss M. G. Willcocks for writing the words of the Duet in Act II., Scene 2 (Columbus and Dearfood) and Mr. A. E. Caddick for the words of the Final Chorus, Act I. For Shrewd's Song, Act III., he and I are jointly responsible.
I would like to make it clear that the sketch of Columbus is not intended as an historical portrait. As far as I have been able to ascertain, he was never in England in 1491, though his brother was there some years earlier. Personally I have always felt the deepest sympathy for Columbus. It cannot be supposed for one minute that he realised he was making possible the Yank, nation. No man would deliberately incur the ridicule of posterity.
P. B. Broad.