What should we choose as the soundtrack for the stunning outcome of the Greek referendum? Patti Smith’s ‘People Have the Power’, perhaps? Or David Bowie singing, ‘We can be heroes, just for one day’? The landslide No to austerity vote is thrilling, but the future of Greece still hangs in the balance. What has been … Continue reading Greece: People power or heroes just for one day?
Berlin again. A little over a week after our return from Berlin, another coincidence: this time it’s a discussion about the life and significance of Frederick the Great on In Our Time this morning. Frederick (the second one – there seem to have been at least eight Fredericks who ruled Prussia) became ruler in 1740 … Continue reading The enigma of Frederick the Great
On Monday evening, waiting for Allen Toussaint to begin his solo set at Ronnie Scott’s, I recalled the times in the early sixties when I would lie in bed listening to songs like ‘Working in a Coalmine’, ‘Mother in Law’ and ‘Fortune Teller’ on Radio Luxembourg. Although I was not aware of the fact at the … Continue reading Allen Toussaint performs his songbook at Ronnie Scott’s
In one of those curious coincidences that seems to happen to me frequently, the morning after we returned from our short break in Berlin BBC Radio 4 broadcast a drama based on the moment in July 1988 when, improbably, Bruce Springsteen performed before an audience of 300,000 people from all over the German Democratic Republic … Continue reading When Springsteen played East Berlin
Germans live with history, Berliners especially so. The city is dense with memorials and museums, each of which documents or remembers an aspect of the country’s fractured past. In the previous post I wrote about three examples of the memorialization of the Holocaust in Berlin. In one short walk in the centre of the city … Continue reading Living with history: a Berlin city centre walk
Just around the corner from the hotel where we stayed in Berlin, in cobbled and tree-lined Fasanenstrasse, I found outside number 42 eight small brass plaques embedded in the pavement. They record the deportation from this town house of eight Jewish Berliners to their deaths in the east. These small brass memorials are called stolpersteine (stumbling blocks) … Continue reading Stumbling over the past in Berlin
For an hour on Thursday evening it felt as if I’d been transported by time machine back to 1984 or thereabouts, and that I was watching the freshly-launched Channel 4. But no, it was 2015 and I was watching Chris Packham’s Natural Selection on BBC4, a one-off chatshow in which Chris Packham of Springwatch fame hosted a discussion in … Continue reading Chris Packham’s Natural Selection: designed to be intelligent