Posts Tagged gulag

May 3 2013

Day In The Life

Tell us about your typical day. Or maybe do a photo diary of what you are doing on the hour every hour for 12 hours. Or you could sum up what you did today.

This is definitely one post where I’m going slightly off-piste. Mainly because I’m not sure a description of a day in my life would be of any interest. A list of the meetings I’ve attended, spreadsheets I’ve worked on and reports I’ve written really isn’t going to enthrall anyone.

But just so you know:

Woke up, fell out of bed…

oh hang on, got caught up there.

Woke up
Went to work
Ate lunch
More work
Played football
Went home
Dinner
Had a bath
Bed

What ‘Day in the life’ brings to mind for me, other than the Beatles song, is ‘One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich’ by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. A short novel (about 140 pages) it is the story of one day (obviously) for Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, a prisoner in a gulag in Stalinist Russia.

That may sound like a really specific connection, but ‘One Day In The Life..’ is a stunning book, and revolutionary in its time. Solzhenitsyn had been imprisoned in the gulags himself at the end of the Second World War, and used his time there to inform many of his books, most notably ‘The Gulag Archipelago’ – a three volume epic history of the gulags, which I vividly remember sitting on my dad’s bookshelf when I was a kid.

I love ‘The Gulag Archipelago’, but it is a weighty work to get through, and actually ‘One Day In The Life…’ arguably gives a much more vivid impression of life in the gulags.

I’m in no position to give a history lesson, but reading about the gulags has left a lasting impression on me ever since I first read ‘One Day In The Life…’ in my teenage years. In much the same way that parents used to get children of my generation to eat their dinner by comparing their situation to children in Ethiopia, if I am ever down about life and my own circumstances (which is pretty rare), I will often find myself pondering the oppression, indignities and fear that was part of daily life in the gulags and telling myself to get over it. It could be far, far worse.

I thoroughly recommend that you read this book if you have not done so. It changed my life

Link to Google Books