On Robert FitzRoy and misremembering history
I’ve been listening to George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier on my daily walks recently. Something that he wrote reminded me of the tendency of big events to overshadow everyday history.
He was, he pointed out, visiting Yorkshire in 1936 when Adolf Hitler ordered his troops into the Rhineland. “Hitler, Locarno, Fascism, and the threat of war aroused hardly a flicker of interest locally” he explained, “but the decision of the Football Association to stop publishing their fixtures in advance (this was an attempt to quell the Football Pools) flung all Yorkshire into a storm of fury.”
This is a typical Orwellian fact – favouring a plain reality over a grand historical moment. It’s a similar story to another I heard recently from a former teacher of mine. She said that they had found an old journal under the floorboards of a family house. It turned out that it belonged to a great uncle who had died during the Second World War. This journal spanned the years 1937-9 – the terrifying years of Hitler’s rise and the spread of Fascism across Europe. Of course the journal neglected any mention of these events and instead concentrated on the uncle’s love of motor cars, which were then becoming more common in London....MORE