Apologies for my unscheduled absence.
Back doing business at the old stand now, sharing insights, passing on knowledge, blazoning forth the best of what goes on behind the domey brow and eyes of stagnant pond green.
The centenary of the Catastrophe is here.
Some thoughts — the importance of who is charge. Not the Great Man theory exactly, but the inadequacy of the Vast Impersonal Forces as explanations for events.
The vital cabinet meeting when Britain decided to enter the European War for instance. I believe correspondents notes and evidence immediately before during and after indicate a strong peace party in the room, waiting only to coalesce around some leading figure, possibly Lloyd George. But LG was not at his best that day, and the lead never came, not from him or from anyone else.
There wasn’t much of a faction solid for war. Two figures only: Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, and Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary. Grey was of such bizarre personal character that it can only be regarded as a malign fate that placed him in that postion at that time.
So easily that day could have been different. A stronger Lloyd George, say, or a sudden doubt arising in Winston’s mind, and we’d now be reading on page 14 some ‘for what-it’s-worth’ features on the outbreak of the Franco-German war of 1914-16, which though it has fallen below the level of popular interest, was in its day quite serious really, and in Vienna or Linz or Munich there would be few middle aged people who with bad memories from the 1960s of old Herr Hitler, who would bore everyone with his exploits on the Western Front.
I like to think of a thriving Yiddish film industry centred perhaps on Breslau (Wroclau) or Lemberg (Lvov/Lviv), giving Hollywood a run for its money. Sigh.