My title is a quote from a truly hilarious episode of "Fawlty Towers" starring John Cleese, in which the manic proprietor of a south coast Bed & Breakfast, Basil Fawlty, is totally thrown by the appearance of a German couple as guests in his establishment. He then spends the rest of the time shouting "Don't mention the war!" at his staff but in his excitement he ends up performing goose steps in the dining room. Difficult to describe but take my word, it was weepingly funny.
Yesterday, Herr Kommandant - ooops, sorry, I mean - Herr Ambassador Doktor Peter Ammon, the German Ambassador in London, more or less said the same thing. Needless to say, in return he has received a chorus of raspberries and, were he to be recognised in the street, he would no doubt see a veritable forest of Churchillian V-signs!
According to the not-so-good 'Doktor', "
"How Britain stood alone in the war, how it stood against dominating Germany’, he told the Guardian newspaper yesterday that it might be ‘a nice story, but does not solve any problem of today’."
Well, thanks for that, Herr Doktor, if only because in a single phrase telling us to forget our history you remind us of just how crucial it is to remember it. I understand your implied reluctance to say much about your own country's recent history because, apart from anything else, it would remind us all that for most of the last 150-odd years it has been despicable and therefor we should be exceedingly careful before allowing ourselves to be handcuffed to Germany with no means of escape - "For you, zee future iss over!"
Actually, hardly anyone in Britain spends much time remembering history because it is so badly taught in schools and anyway most people forget it as they concentrate on earning a living. It is just the coincidence of the release of the film, Darkest Hour, that has reminded some people, and taught others, about one truly extraordinary event in our history which, for a change, actually reflects well on us.