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How many people do you know who have either (a) killed or (b) murdered people? I am not conscious of having met a murderer, although John Mortimer revealed recently that one of his best friends became one. As a schoolboy, however, I used to play a board game called L’Attaque with an ex-officer who told me, between moves, of his experiences in Normandy. He recalled without pleasure or dismay how he had used his dirk to kill a German who ambushed him in a dark cellar.

My generation was spared the duty of taking aim and firing, except at targets…

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