In this radio broadcast, Priestley looked back on 4 August 1914, the day Britain declared war on Germany. The previous day, he had visited a fair near his Bradford home, Manningham Tide. He remembered how hot it had been, and how a fortune-teller told him his life was about to change completely. It did, for him and his generation: no more Manningham Tides, and “half my generation was doomed”. He soon volunteered, and by 1915 was at the Front.
Priestley described his life as a road through different scenes: a “sunlit plain” before 1914, the “black and terrible avalanches” of the war years, confusion during the 1920s, a stony wilderness in the depressed 1930s, then terrible mountains again. Lessons had not been learned and this new war came out of past mistakes. However, Priestley felt that this war was different from the First World War. It was not between countries, but between despair and hope.
As in the previous Postscript, Priestley shared his experience with listeners, many of whom would have travelled the same road. This would have made what he had to say and what he concluded from it more credible. I am writing a piece at the moment about fan letters to Priestley: part of his appeal to these readers and listeners was undoubtedly that he had been through the same world- and life-changing events as them, and was able to articulate what perhaps they could not. More on this another time!