Saturday, 20 February 2010

For you Chadwin, the war is over

I see that a Scottish brewery has brewed a beer with a strength of 41%. That’s 1% higher than most malt whiskies, alcoholism fans! Previously they had brewed one at 32% to the dismay of assorted pecksniffs out there and then a German brewery got to the 40% mark and so here we are. Now I am not that fascinated in this tapsters’ arms race but I was taken with the fact that the Scottish beer is called Sink the Bismarck. For those of you whose knowledge of the navies of World War II is not all it might be, let Wikipedia illuminate:

There is also, of course, the 1960 war film Sink the Bismarck! which starred Kenneth More in the days when you weren’t allowed to make films in Britain unless he had a major role.

I have to say that I am mildly surprised that there have not been complaints. After all, the war ended 65 years ago and we really ought to give the Germans a break. I am conflicted (sorry) about this. One of the worst moments of national embarrassment I have suffered was when I was training a German volunteer in the fine art of sorting and pricing books donated to a charity bookshop. I emptied out a bag onto the sorting table and, you’re way ahead of me, they were all of the ‘Shoulder Flashes of the Wehrmacht 1938 – 1944’ type. I made an English squeaking noise about these books selling terribly well (which they did) and she sadly said “In England war very popular”. She never came back.

On the other hand, I did once manage to get a totally gratuitous reference to the war into a best man’s speech and cannot share The Guardian’s tutting disapproval of the England football fans habit, when their team is playing Germany, of sticking their arms out sideways and swaying from side to side while humming The Dambusters’ March. It is, of course, partly my age. I did a fair bit of my childhood in the ‘70s and it was impossible to escape the war if you were a young boy. Comics with titles like Hotspur, Victory and Warlord abounded and every newsagent had a spinner of those Commando War Library picture stories. The most startling thing about 2000AD when it was first published in 1977 was not its knowing humour and sneaky politicising, but the fact that it had no WWII stories in it. It seemed to be part of the BBC’s charter that they had to show 633 Squadron every Thursday at six o’ clock and the television schedules were awash with series such as Colditz, Secret Army, Tenko and so on. I remember a teacher at prep school gently pointing out to us that swastikas and RAF roundels were not really festively appropriate decorations for the Christmas crackers we were making for the school tree. The only wonder of it all is that I’m not in the habit of always carrying a gas mask with me whenever I leave the house or fretting about Nazi paratroopers disguised as nuns.

Still, all friends now and I’ll drink to that, but only a small glass please.

No comments:

Post a Comment