The June Manoeuvres

An Uhlan uniform, third man from right (navy blue), WWI. From here.

"Dr. Hasselbacher sat facing him wearing an old pickelhaube helmet, a breastplate, boots, white gloves, what could only be the ancient uniform of a Uhlan. His eyes were closed and he seemed to be asleep. He was wearing a sword, and he looked like an extra in a film-studio. Wormold tapped on the window. Dr. Hasselbacher opened his eyes and stared straight at him.


The doctor opened the window and let Wormold in. He found that he was in the doctor's bedroom. A big wardrobe stood open and two white suits hung there like the last teeth in an old mouth. Hasselbacher began to take off his gloves. 'Have you been to a fancy-dress dance, Hasselbacher?'

Dr. Hasselbacher said in a shamed voice, 'You wouldn't understand.' He began piece by piece to rid himself of the paraphernalia--first the gloves, then the helmet, the breastplate, in which Wormold and the furnishings of the room were reflected and distorted like figures in a hall of mirrors. 'Why did you come back? Why didn't you ring the bell?'" (138-9)

Greene, Graham. Our Man in Havana. London: Penguin Books Ltd., 1958.

Generational misunderstanding and the pangs of nostalgia. Hasselbacher must have brought the uniform all the way to Havana--still tries it on after 45 years. "It was all so those days," he suggests to Our Man Wormold, who has never been in service.