(written on 07 May 2020)
I was just over three years old when the war ended and have three believed memories of it - of course real memories may be reinforced and ‘enhanced’ in the telling of them. The one I’m clearest about is a nightmare of Hitler riding on a broomstick around my bedroom in Cardiff where we lived. Like all dreams Hitler was identified as Hitler emotionally but not seen as him pictorially - I don’t suppose I had ever seen an image of him but must have asked my mother why the war was on, received the answer that it was because of a very bad man called Hitler, and may have asked ‘bad like a witch?’ thus bringing the broomstick into the story. The most doubtful memory is hearing bombs dropping as we went down the steps into our cellar. VE Day comes somewhere in between - I remember a day of frenetic emotionality, of being in the street and being passed from hand to hand, and the family later linked this with the occasion.
The 50th anniversary is a much more secure memory: my daughter E and I got to Hyde Park just in time to hear Vera Lynn doing her reprise of ‘We’ll meet again.’
Let’s hope tomorrow we don’t have too much nonsense about British exceptionalism that has already done us so much harm, and we are spared another episode of Johnson’s laughable personal fantasy that he is Churchill. If there are fireworks at Westminster we’ll be able to see them from our balcony.