History’s a tricky business. I steeled myself to watch Max Hastings try to justify the First World War and I lasted about two minutes. He started with a visit to his great-uncle’s grave, just to show he wasn’t unaware of the carnage involved (‘I’ve suffered too’) he acknowledged that the war was fought badly and involved mass slaughter – but then he totally misrepresented the views of his opponents. By refuting what he called the ‘Blackadder view’ of the conflict he suggested that those who opposed the war thought it ‘wasn’t important who won’. At that point I switched off; because if he thinks that, he has nothing further to say to me. Of course opponents of the war don’t think it ‘wasn’t important who won’ – they think it should never have been fought in the first place. It was a combination of stupidities; an accumulation of blunders, a chain-reaction of pathetic posturing coupled with a shameful propaganda campaign to get the nation’s youth onto the battlefield. Read ‘Testament of Youth’ and then tell me it was a necessary war. It was a catalogue of blunders and I think Max Hastings is the only person alive who doesn’t think so.
On a happier note – or series of them – I went yesterday to see Dawson Smith at the Donkey. Dawson and his band play a selection of blues, this time supplemented by Stones and ZZ Top tributes. They are always fun to watch but they seem to have taken it up a notch and become tighter and more energetic. So that was good – and thanks to Peter for taking us.