On The Beach

This morning I watched a recording of last night’s rugby World Cup quarter final between Ireland and New Zealand, and this afternoon that between England and Fiji.

The rest of the day was spent completing my reading of

The copy I inherited from my Auntie Ivy contained a strip of glued

paper which I used as a bookmark.

Even before I reached “Here he learned for the first time of the Russo-Chinese war that had flared up out of the Israeli-Arab war….” on page 9 I had the sense that we were to be embroiled in a disaster to humanity displaying Shute’s prophetic facility. He only pinpointed one aspect of a world bent on self destruction, but did so chillingly, especially bearing in mind where we are at the moment on so many fronts.

We have a love story set against the background of the surge of radiation relentlessly progressing from the north to the south of the globe, where humanity is not expected to survive more than an ever decreasing few months.

With so many echoes of people’s responses to today’s various crises the author warns of what could be to come. His protagonists respond variously with scientific research, denial, resignation, planning for a future they cannot expect to have, partying, and preparation.

The compelling story keeps us gripped and scarcely daring to hope that all will eventually be well. The natural world may survive, but will humanity?

This evening we all dined on succulent roast chicken, fried potatoes and onions, meaty gravy, crunchy carrots, firm broccoli and Brussels sprouts., with which Jackie drank more Lieblich and I drank Doom Bar.


  1. It was a frightening book. Two years after the Stanley Kubrick came out with his movie. I remember I read the book after seeing the movie. Both were hard hitting in their own ways.

    Thanks for sharing, Derrick.

  2. When I took acting classes in college, the instructor created a scenario like this for us to improvise. I bet he got the idea from this book. It’s scary stuff. I hope humans will miraculously come to our collective senses and evolve into a world of peaceful coexistence. At the very least, I hope the natural world survives. It might even thrive without humans.

  3. I have reread this novel a few times over the years. Nevil Shute has a knack for important details and for conveying a variety of human emotions without resorting to the cliche or soppiness.

  4. I recall reading that in my 20s and feeling horribly chilled by it. Ut worked then and it probably works now.

  5. I will ask Nevil Shute to join my “In” queue, blocked at the moment by the Collected Ghost Storioes” of M R James, in retrospect, not the cleverest purchase I ever made!

  6. I’ve not read this book, but I think I saw a movie based on it. (I’ll have to google that.) I think Mr. Gregory Peck was in the film. I always adored him.
    I think nature/natural world WILL outlive humans.
    In fact, it might thrive more if humans were not here to abuse it and destroy it.
    (((HUGS))) ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  7. It is amazing what we find that we use as book marks Derrick.. I was flipping through an older book on my shelf for years I found a receipt of a Hoover I had purchased used for the book mark hidden in the pages.. Dated 1998.. 🙂 LoL…

  8. I remember my mother talking about how haunting the film was, but I (ignorantly) did not know it was based on a novel. Somehow, for me, reading the story in that old, inherited copy would make it even more visceral.

  9. Thanks for sharing your impressions, Derrick. It seems that your Auntie Ivy used whatever was at hand as bookmarks 🙂 Nevil Shute would probably not be surprised to discover that our species today is once again facing the same dilemma. Good question: Will humanity survive what lies ahead?

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