On goodbyes and Nazis

Have spent the past couple of days saying farewell to little groups here and there: a Science Museum Lates evening last Wednesday, a delightfully lazy afternoon in the pub with Joshua on Friday and then News Revue plus wine plus sleepover (the word is still cute!) with Matt and Caroline on Friday night. My grandparents were over on Sunday – the only time when this family ever really has ‘tea’ as a proper afternoon all-encompassing meal – and then I joined Charlotte Speechley to (finally!) see The King’s Speech in the evening.

So a couple of things about this.

Point one, I’m still a republican at heart. Can’t not be. ‘At heart’, of course, doesn’t prevent me from feeling – most of the time – that we’d probably be better off not fiddling with the monarchy in case we do something worse.

Point one and a half, I don’t think this is really relevant to the film at all. It’s just a supremely well-acted human drama, and that’s what I enjoyed it for.


Point two, why is it that showing newsreel footage of Hitler in a darkened cinema for a couple of seconds still makes my spine tingle? Nazis, overexposed as they perpetually are, still remain both fascinating and horrifying to me in a way that I find rather surprising. I mean, obviously, everyone is against Nazism, and there’s no need to prove your moral status by reasserting that all the time. But I really would hold nothing against anyone whose response to a clip of Hitler was as emotionally detached as it would likely be to any other clip of any other grim historical phenomenon. Why should it not be? Maybe coming straight from tea with grandparents who were actually forced to flee Nazism makes it different, but I suspect it’s more about images of Hitler being stamped onto our consciousness from a pretty young age as the ultimate embodiment of an evil regime. Whatever it is, it works.

(Bracketed point three, not sure I’ve ever had a one-to-one conversation with Speechley before, but she’s lovely. Whatever the lawnmower says.)

And finally, last night I was at Oliver’s with Abi and Sarah for dinner and further farewells. And a poem We concluded with the infamous Tool Academy but, surprisingly enough, came away thinking they were mostly rather sweet and good-natured folk. Too soft?

Had intended this post to be about homoeopathy, not Nazis, but since we are where we all I might continue with Operation Waterfight in another post…

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