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2006-07-23 16:00

  I drove to Alton in Hampshire to see Field Marshal Lord Montgomery at Isington Mill, his little country home. His place is really modest and simple. When I returned to London, I happened to pass Apsley House, the enormous mansion(almost a palace)on Piccadilly given by the grateful British people to the Duke of Wellington1 after the Napoleonic wars. Montgomery did not do so well. Whatever one may think of him, he is undoubtedly the most famous British general since Wellington.

  Monty was wearing a dark blue knitted sweater and over it an open leather windbreaker 2. He led me through the dining room upstairs to his study. The room was decorated with a lot of bad oil paintings, at least four of which were full-length portraits of Monty. Also hideous3 but not uncomfortable furniture and an enormous mass of knickknacks4. Everything was in apple-pie5 order, including the desk. In a peculiarly ugly cage was the only other living thing in the house, a somnolent6 blue parakeet7 with a celluloid8 fake companion. There were at most twenty books on a shelf by his desk, and I imagine this comprises his entire library. Prominent9 were Burke's Peerage10 and the 1963 Who's Who. I could just imagine the old codger11 reading himself to sleep with those after his usual dinner of mutton.

  Among the decorations in this study were several signed snapshots of King George VI together with Montgomery. There were also

  signed photographs. Churchill had inscribed his picture:" To Monty. Hard times; stern conflict;victorious commander!Winston S.Churchill 1946." Among the bad oil paintings were one by Churchill and one by Field Marshal Alexander.

  Monty sat on a sofa opposite the stove. He seemed cocky12, tough, positive13, intolerant14, ignorant, and unbelievably vain. He has a stubborn, grumpy15 face, but looks extremely fit for a man of his age. There is not an ounce of fat on him, and there is a healthy gleam in his cold blue eyes. I dislike him and think that his supreme military gift is confirmed by the fact that his own army didn't shoot him in the back.

  I began by asking him what he thought of the idea of a multilateral16 force for NATO. He said:

  Nonsense. Absolute nonsense. Just assume you have a ship with a crew of one third Belgian, one third Portuguese, and one third Danish. It won't work. Won't work. You might get over the language barrier. Politically maybe the idea seems good, but militarily it's poppycock17.

  People fight differently. I know. I have commanded all sorts of people. The European army broke down on that issue. You must keep people together in national units under national control. The politicians don't understand these things. The politicians never fought or commanded troops in battle.

  Why, you couldn't even put the British and the Americans together on the same ship. They are different. Anyone is a fool to think the British and the Americans are the same. Our sailors owe allegiance to the Queen; yours owe allegiance to the President. We have a different kind of discipline. You could not have a people more different than the British and the Americans. I have commanded both. I know.

  I asked if he thought Britain should keep an independent nuclear deterrent18. He answered curtly19:" Yes, naturally; the French are going to. You can't have England without one. You can't let the French be the only European country with their own deterrent. Is Britain to be completely dependent on the U.S.A. for their deterrent? That would be ridiculous: Politics change; men change; people change. But we can't risk it. I am against being completely dependent on the U.S."












  2.windbreaker n.风衣,防风茄克衫

  3.hideous adj.极丑的

  4.knickknack n.小装饰物,小摆设

  5.apple-pie adj.[口]整齐的,井井有条的

  6.somnolent adj.瞌睡的,无生气的

  7.parakeet n.长尾小鹦鹉

  8.celluloid n.[化]赛璐珞

  9.prominent adj.杰出的,著名的

  10.peerage n.[总称]贵族

  11.codger n.[口]怪人,老家伙

  12.cocky adj.[口]骄傲自大的,自以为是的

  13.positive adj.武断的

  14.intolerant adj.偏执的

  15.grumpy adj.脾气坏的

  16.multilateral adj.多国(或多方)参加的

  17.poppycock n.[俚]胡扯,废话

  18.deterrent n.威慑物

  19.curtly adv.简要地

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