The art of righting the world's many wrongs

When the Germans marched into Paris, Beckett joined the French Resistance. Resistance work, if you survive it, is the most enviable form of war: no rules, no uniforms, limitless moral superiority, and, I'd imagine, quite a lot of sex. Beckett helped in the stashing of arms, the secreting of radios, and the ambushing of German units in the mountains. Twice he evaded the Gestapo by nanoseconds. And of course he was properly modest about it afterwards, dismissing it all as "boy scout stuff." And oh how I'd like some boy scout stuff to be modest about.

But when I flick through memory's card index I don't find it. I find only the moments when courage failed me, when I didn't stand up to injustice, when I let the wrong thing happen for fear of what might happen to me if I didn't, all the stuff laid out for inspection in the works of that greatest of all miserablists, Philip Larkin.