Le Chant des Partisans: 75 years since a song took flight

When Andre Malraux eulogised Jean Moulin and the ‘army of shadows’ on the steps of the Panthéon in December 1964, he reached for the words of one of France’s national hymns. The Chant des Partisans was an anthem of the Liberation that had hung upon the lips of resisters even during the Nazi Occupation. First broadcast as a whistled tune on the BBC, the stirring … Continue reading Le Chant des Partisans: 75 years since a song took flight

Places and Parity: Processing Horrors

The leafy squares of Bloomsbury are a world away from the vibrant, bustling public squares of the Levant.  The farmer’s market that springs up every Thursday in Torrington Square is little like the markets of Damascus (even in happier, more peaceful days), though we can recognise common patterns.     The squares are suffused with layers of history, and though their physical landscapes cannot intersect, … Continue reading Places and Parity: Processing Horrors

Wine, Terror and the Tour de France

The Tour de France is one of France’s most lauded sporting events. It is a huge presence in the memory and identity of many French people and those from farther afield. The retracing of old routes, the blanket media coverage and the sense that it “belongs to the French collective memory of the Twentieth Century” all place it on the pantheon of international sporting events.[1] … Continue reading Wine, Terror and the Tour de France

Myths, Battle & Rail: Two Stories About Waterloo Station

UPDATE: Here’s a video of me talking to The Independent about Waterloo and its contemporary importance On the 200th anniversary of Waterloo, it makes sense to think about myths, about legends and about national identity. To be honest, you’ll struggle to avoid these things. There are 2 key myths surrounding Waterloo station that relate to the battle, both of which it seems are pretty much false. … Continue reading Myths, Battle & Rail: Two Stories About Waterloo Station

Tale of Two Cities: Memory, Identity, Maps

Memory is a rich and powerful intoxicant. It can be as seductively misleading as it can be corrective. By invoking memory and heritage we can chide as we inspire, promoting a sense that life’s challenges can be more ably met when clad in the armour of past experience. Significantly, this has often been the case with national identity, and memory has often framed the values … Continue reading Tale of Two Cities: Memory, Identity, Maps