To the long list of stiff upper lip-wielding Brits, including the Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, Sir Francis Drake who defeated the Spanish Armada and Henry V, the king who defeated the French at the Battle of Agincourt, we may add King George VI, father of the current Queen Elisabeth.
King George woke one desperate May morning in 1940 to a call from Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, who was just then desperately holed up in an air raid shelter in a palace garden against an ongoing assault from the Germans.
“She begged me to send aircraft for the defense of Holland. I passed this message on to everyone concerned & went back to bed.”
Quoted in Last Hope Island by Lynne Olsen.
From an intriguing website, new to me, called Tubemapcentral.com.This map comes from a pdf newsletter available on the site. Best way to properly view it might be to download the pdf and then enlarge the map. Brings back a disappeared world. Not entirely forgotten, especially probably if you were a non-British resident somewhere far out in the empire.
The keeper of the newsletter writes:
“Many of you will be familiar with a particularly splendid poster from 1937 advertising air services by Imperial Airways. This included a schematic map in an inset, detailing mileages and frequencies of flights to all sorts of exotic destinations.”
If anything marks out the British linguistically, it’s their baroque way of using adverbs, especially as a form of polite sangfroid or poise – so “the worst day ever” is “things perhaps aren’t quite as wonderful as they could be”. As the American critic Alexander Woollcott once said: “The English have an extraordinary ability for flying into a great calm.”
In light of German politicians’ inability to form a government, the German Question has been turned on its head. Post-Cold War, the German Question asked how the unification of East and West Germany might be achieved without creating an economic and political juggernaut, with all the baggage that prospect carried.
Suddenly now, wonders Handelsblatt Global, is Germany “becoming incapable of assuming enough leadership to guide and champion Europe in a globalized world?” In the same week, Matthew Engel’s Travels in Belgium, the dysfunctional, fractured state at the heart of the EU reminds us that that country “went 589 days in 2010-11 without a fully-formed government.”
Meanwhile, Brexit still means Brexit and we can all see how that’s working out. Just ask, (among just about anybody else) anyone living along the once and future Republican/Northern Irish border.
Can European governments govern? That is the new European Question.