Brian Reade says he’s fed up with being told to summon up the Blitz spirit to get through the coming winter of discontent
As we head into a winter that pessimists believe will be more brutal than the Siege of Stalingrad, let’s look on the bright side.
We can play a British version of Squid Game in B&Q as we kill everyone for the last torch, then huddle around the telly wrapped in duvets to watch Boris Johnson on his fifth holiday in four months painting the Taj Mahal in his boxer shorts.
We can be moved by the power of love watching African musicians hold a Live Aid concert in which they try to get the song Feed The Brits – Let Them Know It’s Christmas Time to the festive No 1 in Ethiopia.
And hackneyed bores can play their favourite game of telling anyone who complains that they need to show the Blitz spirit that saw Britain through its darkest hour. Even though nobody under 80 was alive then. Bores like David Cameron’s former speechwriter, Clare Foges, who has written about Brits secretly enjoying national crises because they can relive how it felt when the Luftwaffe bombed our cities in 1941.
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She even compared it to “the mild thrill of having to forage for the last bag of penne in Sainsbury’s”.
I’m sure that’s how my grandad felt when he was told on the Liverpool docks that houses in his street had taken a direct hit, and he ran for four miles in blind panic, not knowing if his wife and kids were still alive.
Then there’s Iain Duncan Smith accusing civil servants who work from home of lacking the Blitz spirit,
unlike “the brave civil servants who went to work in the 1940s, determined to do their bit regardless of the threat from falling bombs. What has happened to us as a nation?”.
I’ll tell you what’s happened, Iain. We’ve been drip-fed, to the point of saturation, a false narrative about the Second World War from people like you who weren’t there, which has left us wallowing in a fictional past.
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Let’s look at his ludicrous comparison between “brave” office workers in 1941 and today’s wimps too scared to do their patriotic duty by heading into city centres to help multinational coffee shop chains make even more money they won’t pay tax on.
Back then, the Germans mostly struck at night, so nothing stopped people on the day shift going to work. Unlike Covid, bombing wasn’t spread between humans. If Hitler flattened your street you couldn’t kill a stranger the next day by speaking German to him. And when people were ordered to wear gas masks to stop them needing hospital treatment they didn’t come out with mad conspiracy theories.
Communicating with the office from home was slightly harder then. What with there being no internet or email and few telephones.
With three generations living in two-up, two-downs there wasn’t much room to work either.
Doing your invoices on the outside bog, or holding a Zoom meeting in the kitchen when your dad’s soaking his goolies in a tin bath, wouldn’t have won you promotion.
So listen up, folks. If we do have a lights-out winter, don’t let anyone under the age of 85 lecture you about how it was different during the Blitz.
Because they remember as little about it as you do.