I’ve got something to add to some of Craig’s recent posts, and rather than gatecrashing them all, I’ll put them together in a cluster.
The first one concerns Hugh Sykes. Hugh is a favourite of ITBB. He has 49 dedicated tags in our sidebar. As Craig points out, people can be wrong about some things and right about others, and we shouldn’t let our feelings about some things affect our judgment about everything.
By that token, I have to admit finding Jeremy Hardy funny occasionally, although I laugh through gritted teeth.
Something in Hugh’s conversation with Sarah Walker made me uncomfortable. You might have guessed what it was, but I’ll tell you anyway.
During their discussion about Symphony No.6 by Egon Wellesz, Hugh recounted an anecdote about his grandfather’s remarks about Hitler. It somehow seemed to stick out like a sore thumb, almost as thought it had been included gratuitously, for a reason.
“Egon came from my mother's connection with them in Vienna when she was very young girl, and when her father Eric Phipps - my mother's maiden name was Phipps, subsequently Mary Sykes. Her father was British ambassador to Vienna in the 1920s and then, crucially. was British ambassador to Berlin in the 1930s - from 1933 until 1937, when my mother was 10 to 14 years old.
And she used to tell a chilling story about how they used to have lunch all together - her large family, four brothers and a sister. So six children altogether and their mother in the British embassy in Unter den Linden in Berlin - and father Eric would come home from the office upstairs, or wherever it was, for lunch. One day he was a bit late. and he sat down at the table, and he apologised and said:
"I'm sorry I'm late but I've just been to see Herr Hitler again. The next time i go and see him I should take a pistol with me really because he wants to take over the world. I could stop him, but God knows what would happen to all of you if I did that."
Now, was that just a family memory? I did do a bit of amateur historian on that and, entirely separately and with open questions, I asked my aunt - my mother's sister Margaret - whether she remembered her father ever talking about Hitler and she told me almost exactly the same story with those details. So I think it's probably pretty accurate. And certainly if you look at his dispatches - Eric Phipps's dispatches from those days from Berlin to London - they were full of trenchant criticism of Hitler and warnings to the United Kingdom that this was a man absolutely not to be trusted. And, astonishingly for diplomatic dispatches, he described quite a lot of Hitler's henchmen - Goering, Goebbels and all the rest of them - as "gangsters". This is the British ambassador to Berlin describing the entourage of the leader of the country that he was in as "gangsters". And of course he was right.
However, Craig and I (independently) did a little research, our curiosity aroused (simultaneously.) Great minds etc.
I wondered why Eric Phipps seemed so concerned about Hitler’s political ambitions without mentioning his obsession with Jews. Halfway across the country, so did Craig. One would think that as an amateur historian Hugh would have found out that Eric Phipps was seen by some as a bit of an antisemite.
“Phipps's undoubted tendency towards anti-semitism which, while not precluding close friendships with individual Jews, became more pronounced in Paris.
Phipps's anti-semitism was that of the pre-1914 Edwardian variety, based perhaps more on religion and class than on race, and frequently associated with G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. The latter was a strong influence on Lady Phipps who was a convert to Catholicism, and was such a frequent visitor that the upper entresol of the embassy became known, apparently, as Belloc's room.
Belloc was a vehement anti-semite of the catholic right and his book, The Jews. published in 1922, equated them with Bolshevism whereas Phipps equated them with the Popular Front.
Phipps himself frequently made strange references to individual Jews, whom he delighted in identifying by their 'real' family names, especially those whom he regarded as being opposed to Chamberlain's appeasement policy.”
I realise the above material is from a PhD thesis, and might not be accurate; so how do we know it’s credible?
“Well, by being very, very careful who we believe.” ...if I may borrow (again) from Craig’s transcription of Hugh’s interview.
In Hugh Sykes’s own words: “I like the old BBC maxim: You should never report anything till you've got at least two sources.”
You can rest assured. Both Craig and I found the information independently. ;-)
Tongue firmly withdrawn from cheek, I concluded that Hugh’s anecdote, seen in that particular context, veered towards the preemptive - defensive. I mean, if one was revealing on the BBC that one’s grandfather’s:
“two key ambassadorships thus span the crucial period between Hitler’s advent to power in Germany, and the outbreak of the second world war which makes them intrinsically important.
…one might indeed wish to dissociate Grandpa from the abhorrent political machinations of Nazi Germany, so perhaps Hugh doth/did protest too much?
As for Jon Sopel breaking into a massive ad Hominem on FOOC, throwing stones in glasshouses immediately comes to mind.
Jon Sopel is almost begging me to describe him as a fawning Hillary Clintonite with a nasal, Mummy’s-boy voice who reminds me of Private Pike every time I see him wearing that scarf. I expect he’s got a woolly vest on too.
Samira Ahmed disappoints.
Craig is quite right about Samira Ahmed. I used to think she was fair. When she hosted that Sunday Morning programme (and ‘Something Understood” Radio 4) she seemed smart. Now I’m wondering if that was all down to a spell of post Channel Four ‘best behaviour’.
As Craig said, her Devil’s Advocacy act seemed a little too enthusiastic in the interview with Hugh Milbourn. The complaints about Nigel Farage echo the outrage that always turns certain Israel-bashers apoplectic whenever Mark Regev is allowed to speak. I mean, were the viewers arguing for no-platforming? Samira didn’t really pursue that. I’m disappointed.
The Big Questions. Another occasion for the BBC to mention the case of the Haredi transgender father/mother which was the subject of a recent controversial court ruling. It seems that this particular case has been shoe-horned into several BBC conversations recently, usually with an ostentatious ‘we’re not particularly singling out Jews’ flavour about it, though they actually are - “innocent face.”
They bring it up a lot. Compare it with how many times they bring up individual cases that involve Muslim perpetrators, when discussing sex offences. Hardly ever to none at all.
Something that strikes me about the transgender phenomenon. Why do you think it is that trans-gender men-to-women think of femininity as putting on ‘glamour-girl’ attire, and lipstick? It seems such a superficial concept.
As Sarah Ditum sort of said on TBQs, there is something vaguely misogynistic about the whole thing. At least I think that's what she was getting at. Most trans-gender men seem to view ‘being a woman’ in an entirely different way from the way biological women think of ‘being a woman’. Men’s idea of ‘being a woman’ seems to be based on an masculine fantasy world. High-heels and a mini skirt and Bob’s your auntie.
In real life being a woman actually boils down to things like taking responsibility for cleaning the toilet and the kitchen floor. Stuff like that. And not having much time to blog.
I know that society puts pressure on both sexes to behave in certain stereotypical ways, which make some of us feel inadequate, but if you ask me, that’s what needs to change. Let us all be what we want to be as best we can. Let’s let men dress up as girls and use the women’s bog, and don’t make them feel they have to shoulder the woes of the world if they don’t feel up to shouldering them. Never mind what gender you are. Fill the role that suits you. But please let’s not call men ‘women’ and mothers ‘fathers’ and don’t deny biology.
By the way, I must declare a complete lack of interest in this topic, so feel free to ignore the whole of the above. As if you wouldn’t.
I wonder why Daniel Hannan thinks we should have cheaper child care? Does he think the quality of child care is less important than a woman’s ability go to work? I never understood the political drive to get more women out to work anyway. If child care was cheap, i.e. poorly paid, what sort of individual would do it? If it was government-subsidised, it would be a burden on the taxpayer, i.e. the woman who was thus enabled to go out to work. Seems altogether futile and pointless and thoroughly wrong-headed. I can’t see why we’re officially supposed to aspire to it.
Sorry for returning to familiar topics. X