I’m going to take you on a journey. Today we revisit January 2014. And there is method in the madness this week will bring:
Another birthday. More old style politics. Aunt Motta would have been 100 today. Like her older sister she was a fervent Social Democrat, and also worked hard in the ranks for a better life for all. (It wasn’t just that she sewed all my wonderful early clothes, or stuck polythene bags on my feet when the grass was wet.)
The family always used to refer to when Motta and Uncle E had lunch with German Chancellor Willy Brandt, as though it was a bit of a joke. He obviously wasn’t Chancellor then. He was a refugee in Sweden during WWII. And I imagine the lunch was for more than the three of them. Much of the same age, it will have been the natural thing for political activists to meet.
I suppose it was because Willy Brandt had a more prominent profile than his Austrian colleague Bruno Kreisky, that we didn’t talk about him as much. But they, too, met, as the future chancellor of Austria also took refuge in Sweden during the war. (Think of our reactions to refugee seekers today…)
Neither Uncle E nor Aunt Motta spoke any foreign languages. But luckily the two Chancellors-to-be did. I always think of Willy Brandt as a Norwegian speaker, which is what he was when interviewed on (Swedish) television.
This leaves me wondering if we have young people, who are quite as interested in changing the world for the better, today? To me, Motta and E were always old, and so were Brandt and Kreisky. I can’t help wondering what it was like back then. But it’s too late to ask.