Page:The Worst Journey in the World volume 1.djvu/75

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Worst Journey in the World

taking the book off their hands; for it was clear that what I had written was not what is expected from a Committee, even though no member may disapprove of a word of it. A proper Official Narrative presented itself to our imaginations and sense of propriety as a quarto volume, uniform with the scientific reports, dustily invisible on Museum shelves, and replete with—in the words of my Commission—"times of starting, hours of march, ground and weather conditions," not very useful as material for future Antarcticists, and in no wise effecting any catharsis of the writer's conscience. I could not pretend that I had fulfilled these conditions; and so I decided to take the undivided responsibility on my own shoulders. None the less the Committee, having given me access to its information, is entitled to all the credit of a formal Official Narrative, without the least responsibility for the passages which I have studied to make as personal in style as possible, so that no greater authority may be attached to them than I deserve.

I need hardly add that the nine years' delay in the appearance of my book was caused by the war. Before I had recovered from the heavy overdraft made on my strength by the expedition I found myself in Flanders looking after a fleet of armoured cars. A war is like the Antarctic in one respect. There is no getting out of it with honour as long as you can put one foot before the other. I came back badly invalided; and the book had to wait accordingly.