Memory and forgetting

Just a quick note about Things we forgot to remember, a website for a new radio series that began last Monday. You can listen to the first episode online, about the Battle of Britain and the Battle of Mers-El-Kebir (update: it’s great). Early modernists, however, will be particularly interested to learn that the upcoming episode (23 May) will be about the Spanish Armada. (And a later one will be about the French Revolution.)

Thanks to Chris Williams of the Open University, who worked on the programme, for the tip-off. Esther McCallum-Stewart of Break of Day in the Trenches also had a hand in it. So I expect much yummy goodness.

Update: If you have any trouble with the direct link to the programme above, this will take you to the main Radio 4 page and you can see the link on the right hand sidebar. (Although I’m hoping it’ll work OK now.)

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8 Responses to Memory and forgetting

  1. Chris Williams says:

    Ta, Sharon – the cheque’s in the post.

  2. but … that’s … Michael Portillo!

  3. Sharon says:

    Better to listen to than to look at. Unless he’s doing the Abbott and Portillo show (I mean this).

  4. Chris Williams says:

    Yeah well, we couldn’t get XXXX, XXXXX or XXXX. And Portillo is actually a good presenter. No, really. I would have veto’ed him if he’d been staying in Parliament, honest.

  5. David Foster says:

    Looks like a very interesting series. I would question the assertion that the Germans couldn’t have invaded Britain even if they had won the Battle of Britain, owing to the superiority of the Royal Navy. The events in Singapore, among other places, provided strong evidence of the vulnerability of warships to hostile airpower when not protected by their own air forces.

  6. Chris — much laughter here!

  7. Sharon says:

    David, I think it’s put very strongly to grab people’s attention. If you listen to the programme, it qualifies that, I think; what it’s saying is that Mers-El-Kebir is at least as important as the Battle of Britain (not that the BoB is unimportant!), and yet has been entirely forgotten in the popular memory. And it tries to tease out why.

    (I also think there’s something delicious about getting Portillo to do this kind of interrogation of popular, ‘patriotic’ history. As I’m sure he knows very well. And he is bloody good at it.)

  8. Chris Williams says:

    David – if I were you I would air that assertion on soc.history.what-if. It’s been debated many a time, and we always come to the conclusion that invasion was an impossibility. To cut a long story short, you need to consider how vulnerable the German invasion fleet was (very) and the rate at which the Luftwaffe was able to sink British warships, even under optimum conditions, in 1940 (not nearly fast enough).

    In greater detail, the most plausible treatment remains CS Forester’s _If Hitler Had Invaded England_. The best summary of the issue on the web is that collected by the late great Alison Brooks, at:

    As for the impact of getting Portillo to do it, you ain’t heard nothing yet: tonight’s programme is even better on that score.

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