The dead reckoning


Senior Member
This is an extract from the novel A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson. it is World War II.

The Black Swan, known by everyone as the Mucky Duck, had a very accommodating landlord who let the aircrews have running tabs knowing that many of them would never be paid. The dead reckoning.

Would you like to explain the meaning of "The dead reckoning" to me? Thank you.
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    dead reckoning - Dictionary of English

    A tab is your credit account behind the bar — you’re given drinks without paying for them, the money to be paid later.

    Instead of having its usual maritime meaning, dead reckoning is used here as a sort of macabre joke, meaning that when it comes to the reckoning up (calculation) of the pub’s accounts, some money owed will never be paid because customers will have been killed in action. (I’m assuming this takes place in wartime.)

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Yes. The RAF men were on active duty in WWII and their death rate was atrocious. At some point I think you are told the statistics in this novel.
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