The words that make up this post were initially written in more or less one go, but ended up far longer than anyone would to spend staring at a computer screen. So I’ve taken the material that initially went into the post and broken it into several pieces. Each one deals with some different bits of what I’ve learned about Slovenia and Austria on my trip. Later posts will get onto Geoff’s (my grandpa’s) story, but first I’m going to try and set the scene for what was happening in the area where he was held. History and the past are not the same thing. Doing history is not about Read full post >>
Is it possible to feel nostalgia for times you haven’t lived through? Somehow, this did it for me: London 1927 from Tim Sparke on Vimeo.
I’ve had a couple of excellent days in Austria, where I met up with a local historian called Paul Angerer, who showed incredible kindness in giving up his weekend to drive me around the region and show me the various sites associated with my grandpa. Paul’s own history is around here; he has lived in and around Klagenfurt for most of his life, and runs an advertising agency for his main job – but in his spare time, for most of the last three or four years, he has been engaged in some heavy-duty research to write the history of Carinthia (this region of Austria) from all perspectives. Paul’s drive Read full post >>
Back in November 2011, I wrote about my grandpa, Geoff Skinner, who had died the previous year. A few days after I did, a short comment appeared on the post, from an IP address in Slovenia. The writer of the comment was called Breda. She said: Ben, your grandfather (or Uncle Geoff, as I call him) was a prisoner of war imprisoned in the Work Camp 10029 GW in Weidmannsdorf (Klagenfurt). Here’s a link to a site about the camp. Love, Breda I was astonished, and immediately recognised the name Klagenfurt – the city in Austria where my grandpa was held captive from 1941 to 1945. This blog post is my attempt, Read full post >>
I happened to be in Trafalgar Square on Sunday. Among the usual crowds were a large number of people in uniform who had come from the Remembrance Sunday service at Westminster Abbey. Many people were wearing uniforms of one sort or another, from Pearly Kings and Queens (I’m not sure if they had been at the Abbey, mind!) to policemen, to current and former soldiers with regimental blazers or dress uniform, many with medals pinned to their chests. It was striking, too, how many from the crowds were wearing poppies. I always used to wear a poppy, but in the last few years I seem to have stopped, though I Read full post >>
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rO-hibM20mU?fs=1] Sitting in the confines of Lille-Europe station on a Eurostar that has fallen victim to the closure of all Belgium’s high-speed lines, the experience of seeing Fela! at the National Theatre on Saturday seems a long way off. Here, literally every colour that I can see is a variation of grey, save for the dark blue platform signs and a red and blue neon sign on the supermarket outside. It’s cold, desolate, soulless, corporate and dull; you could say none of these things about Fela Kuti and you can say none of them about the show that is currently lighting up the august environment of the Olivier Theatre. To Read full post >>