Ah God! to see the branches stir Across the moon at Grantchester! I confess that I know little of Rupert Brooke, other than a few of his more famous lines of poetry. But had I been asked, I would have said – with the gleam of certainty – that he was killed in action in the First World War.
Not quite. In 1915, he was on his way to the Dardanelles, and would almost certainly have been slaughtered at Gallipoli alongside tens of thousands of others. Before he got there, however, he was bitten on the lip by a gnat, and died of blood poisoning.
Brooke’s Gnat would make a Strange Book.
Talk of gnats reminds me that my grandfather abjured gnat metaphors with reference to weak tea: he referred to “piss o’ cricks”.