When our children were small they sought relief from the tedium of long car journeys by playing tapes on their portable cassette recorder. So limited was the repertoire and so relentless its performance that some of the sentiments expressed became lodged in the adult subconscious. And now, with a memoir in prospect, they leap out to proclaim their relevance but to confound the author. ‘Oh, I believe in yesterday’ urges a nostalgic recollection of a supposedly golden age; ‘Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone’ dismisses its relevance if not its reality.
History, we are told, is not merely a commemoration of events and personalities. Its interpretation can inform today’s policies and politics. The study of the past can inspire us with new ambitions for the future. President Woodrow Wilson wrote to a friend, ‘I should be complete … if I could read the experiences of the past into the practical life of
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