“He wondered what O'Brian would have been like in a real war, one in which he actually had to fight rather than just take pictures. Then he wondered what he would have been like. Most of the men he knew asked themselves that question, as if never having fought somehow made them incomplete - left a hole in their lives where a war should have been.
Was it possible that this absence of war - marvellous though it was and so forth: that went without saying - was it possible that it had actually trivialised people? Because everything was so bloody trivial now, wasn't it? This was The Trivial Age. Politics was trivial. What people worried about was trivial - mortgages and pensions and the dangers of passive smoking. Jesus! - is this what we've been reduced to, worrying about passive smoking, when our parents and our grandparents had to worry about being shot or bombed?
And then he began to feel guilty, because what was he implying here? That he wanted a war? ... He was glad it was over, of course, in a way - but at least while it was on people like him had known where they stood, could point to something and say: well, we may not know what we do believe in, but we don't believe in that.”