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Tuesday, December 12, 2017


London, during the Blitz: Monty Modlyn, Jewish son of a West End tailor, sees misfortune come to a Nazi sympathiser:

"One shopkeeper who lived near us was a supporter of Moseley and an admirer of Hitler. He always hated Churchill. They never interned him, I don't know why. He had a little sweet-shop just over the way.

"At that time there used to be a gigantic soap and candle factory called Field's round the corner, and when it caught fire all the wax in it flowed out in a great river of molten wax down the side of the arches at Waterloo station. This burning river flowed right into his shop and burnt it to pieces, and we said, "That was a blooming good job your mate Hitler did!""

"Pardon My Cheek", Hutchinson (1973), pp. 44-45

So, as the capital city was being bombed by day and night, nobody had put the shopkeeper's windows through, nobody had read a Facebook instruction sheet on "How To Punch A Nazi" and put it into effect, nobody no-platformed him, nobody set the police and courts on him.

And that sort of British tolerance was not new. During the French Revolution (pre-Robespierre), the poet William Blake openly wore a Phrygian cap around London to show his support for the revolutionaries, and was not troubled for doing it.

What a stupid, febrile, mean-spirited people we have become.

By the way, I have the greatest admiration for Monty Modlyn, a man with balls of steel who interviewed Idi Amin shortly after the coup in Uganda and asked questions so frank that his cameraman cringed fearfully in his corner. And came back to Uganda a little while later, when sentiment had turned against the British. And visited Amin's HQ in the dictator's absence, showing photos of himself with Amin to gain admission - at a time when fellow journalists like Sandy Gall were sweating in a Ugandan jail with every prospect of being killed. What a man!


wiggiatlarge said...

I firstly remember MM on the Today program with Jack de Manio as the presenter, they made a good team, chalk and cheese, de Manio with his rich voice as against the sarf London tones of Modlyn, de Manio was himself the recipient of early BBC PC progressives being moved as early as '71.

Sackerson said...

How was that progressive?