'Tis 125 years since

'Tis 125 years since

Dear readers of my blog,

while it is no surprise to see that “Get Brexit done – vote true Blue” has prevailed in the General Election yesterday, it does hurt though that the same party that eventually took the UK to Europe took the risk to dismantle the whole country to take it out again forty-six years later. Of course, I did not realise in the summer of 1974 what historic period I had first entered England and Wales but I distinctly recall the sugar and toilet-paper crisis that made people queue up outside the local shops in Aberdovey to get hold of what they needed for the usual provisions from the former colonies did not seem to have been supplanted in sufficient quantities by European or home-based providers. What with hindsight made for many a good laugh may become the order of the day very soon, and everybody will have to bear the brunt for this. This is perhaps the only saving grace for those who did not hesitate to risk the future of the country's youth, for, unfortunately, in a country where “the rest is history” is a common phrase to relegate all uncomfortable truths to the archives only looked at by bookish fellows, people may all too easily forget who got them in the scrapes that can still not been fathomed at the moment.

I do a have personal reason to write like this, as you can imagine, for today was a very special day for me, given that it is the 125th anniversary of my paternal grandfather. He was born when Oscar Wilde was thirty and a father of two sons. Like my maternal grandfather, three days his elder, Wilhelm Rademacher fought in the First World War, and like him, he was the exact coeval of Aldous Huxley in whose centenary year, which was also theirs, thought no-one in the two families ever spoke about that fact then, I took a most passionate part in the organising of the Centenary Symposium dedicated to the life and works of Huxley held at Münster University. It is only now that I realise to the full why I was so passionate, risking very much, not least an academic career, to make it succeed. It was something I did by proxy – though unwittingly so. Only when in the process of clearing the family home and the literary papers of my father did I grasp what kind of activity I had been involved in since I chose to study modern languages and literature and to stick to writing and translating while teaching at a school some time later. So I was driven to write a poem about my paternal grandfather, my father and myself as grandson. Here it is:

Father Son & Grandson

Becoming a father is all but hard

being a son however pretty hard

a grandson's burden is very hard

Father first built the house

son didn't inherit the house

the grandson dug all out

Father took a wife from Westphalia

the son was drawn in by Westphalia

the grandson finally leaves Westphalia

Father sends children to Euskirchen

the son shuns all churches

at the end even Gelsenkirchen

the grandson visits Ludgerikirchen

in Münster Leer & Norden

Father first earns a war medal

the son suffers from the slaughter

only the grandson spells it out in Norden

Free association following:

In Aurich it's awful

in Emden & Leer

it's even more awful

and it's only fair

to say that in Norden

you can become nothing but warden.

Leer, East Frisia, 21 January 2017

Those of you who read German may have wondered why I deleted a blog post last week. I will soon upload a very different one, explaining some of the reviews in a personal vein. It was another moment when a decision, long over-due, had to be taken, to cancel the subscription to a local paper that no longer fulfils its function to present the result of investigations rather than being the receptacle of spokespersons' prepared texts. For many years already, I have been wondering why it can be that individuals like me, keeping his eyes open, seem to know more about their immediate and limited environment – a small town, that is – than the papers wants to tell us. And discussions with colleagues, who have noticed similar discrepancies between what they have found out for themselves and what has become publicised knowledge, have only confirmed this view. So I cannot but admire those who have taken the fortunes of their hamlet in their own hands, presenting what is on there in their own village blog. And perhaps it is really the only way democracy can function these days because anything that is media- or hype-driven is bound to end up in such misery as the Brexit referendum and its electoral aftermath almost three and a half years later, and I am only talking about the winners in both cases. It is, unfortunately, from defeats that you learn most as Eric Hobsbawm taught us, but he was a Marxist, and such people's insights are terribly out of fashion these days.

Hope you, like me, recover soon from this December Blues.

Jörg W. Rademacher

13th December 2019


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