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John Bird: Another year, another chance to learn from history

Posted On: 16 Sep 2019   |   Posted By: The Big Issue

One hundred years ago my father was 18 months old and living in dreadful circumstances for bringing up a child. He had many elder brothers and a drunken barman as a father and a mother who cleaned office stairs and front steps for doctors in Harley Street in London's Marylebone first thing, before going to her other cleaning jobs that stretched on for much of the day.
Hitler had just joined the embryonic Nazi party as an army spy and my mother waited patiently to be conceived and then born the following year in her native Cork in Ireland. The war may have ended but it was followed by the fierce fight for a free Ireland, and soon after by a civil war.
Britain and its Empire came out of the war looking and feeling like a large lion that had finally realised that its days of holding suzerainty over the world of commerce and territory were now questionable. Yet it would do its best to keep up appearances like you might imagine a once first-class hotel that had lost the prime spot to a younger contender might...

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