And someone nearby is doing the same. But his phone's on speaker and I'm getting one side of his lifestory over my fruit and fibre. Arghghhh.
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Started with the landings in Sicily on 10 July, 1943. Or if you want to be pedantic about mainland Europe, 3 September 1943 at Reggio in Calabria, southern Italy. My father took part in both. And after D-Day, when Lady Nancy Astor castigated the Allied forces in Italy, who'd been sent by Churchill with the understatement of the war in that they were going to attack 'the soft underbelly of the Axis crocodile', saying they should be sent to the real war in Normandy, revelled ever more in the self-deprecating soubriquet of the D-Day Dodgers. It was a long and bloody campaign; doesn't detract from the bravery and sacrifices of D-Day and the long push east to Germany, but Normandy 1944 wasn't the first step in Europe's liberation.
75th anniversary of D-Day and the 30th anniversary of Tiananmen Square falling in the same week make me think of that guy and the tank. At work back then, we mocked up a poster, with a speech balloon borrowing the Viz Parkie's slogan, so that it had the bloke with the shopping bag shouting 'right, now fuck off' at the tank. I also vividly remember sitting up most of the night the Berlin Wall came down on October 3, 1990 with friends, including a German student who was sharing the house in Bradford. She was in tears as the crowds streamed both east and west as the VoPos stood meekly to the side of the gaping holes hammered into the concrete blocks. After a lot of drink and emotion, the night ended with a drunken karaoke session to the WolfeTones' rendition of A Nation Once Again. Different country; longer and continuing separation; but the sentiment seemed fit for the occasion. As indeed did the end-of-Iron-Curtain 'classic', Winds of Change by the German band Scorpions. German rockers with dodgy English pronunciation (maagik??) capturing the zeitgeist - would've of thunk it? And who indeed would've have thunk that - just under 30 years on - we'd be faced with the divisions of populism and nationalism, instead of the glories of freedom that were promised. Defeat snatched from a promised victory of peace by the old emnities, distrusts and hatreds from the past. Liberation and freedom have been stolen and used contorted to justify selfish isolationism and bolster the Xenophobe. It all seems a long way indeed from the hope and promise of D-Day and a betrayal of the lives lost in the fight for freedom from Nazi tyranny.