London: March, or even February, 1948
It had not been the hardest winter. That had been the previous winter–the deluge that was 1947. London like an iceberg, the Home Counties one vast undulating eiderdown of white, snowbound villages in Derbyshire dug out by German POWs many miles and years from home–a bizarre reminder that we had “won the war.” War. Winter. He had thought he might not live through either. He had. The English, who could talk the smallest of small talk about weather, had deemed 1948 to be “not bad” or, if feeling loquacious, “nowt to write home about.” But now, as the earth cracked with the first green tips of spring, the bold budding of crocus and daffodil that seemed to bring grey-toothed smiles to the grey faces of the downtrodden victors of the World War among whom he lived, he found no joy in it. It had come too late to save him. This winter would not kill him. The last would. And all the others that preceded it.
He took a silver hip flask from his inside pocket and downed a little Armagnac.
“André, I cannot do this anymore.”
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