Wednesday 13 November 2019

Declan Lynch: 'Out of this evil episode has emerged some hope and glory'

Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

One of the recurring themes of the Brexiters, is a strange kind of nostalgia for World War II - strange, because almost none of them were alive at the time to partake of the Dunkirk Spirit or to survive the horrors of the Blitz or to endure the wartime rationing with an attitude of "Oh well, mustn't grumble!".

Yet we can just about allow them that. We can accept that they may be drawing on some race memory for inspiration, some sentimental kind of fantasy that they got from looking at Dad's Army - and though they seem to be saying that they literally played their part in defeating Hitler, we will put that one down to plain eejitry, and not to the deeper malevolence of their barmy schemes.

More troubling by far is the fact that they are correct to be seeing an analogy with World War II. It's just that they don't realise that in this general election - this Battle of Britain - they are the Germans.

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Britain is under attack. Of that there is no doubt. It has been bombarded for a few years now by some of the worst ideas of the age, driven by some of the worst people.

The Hun, as it were, aren't sending planes over the Channel to bomb the East End of London. That was a long time ago, and today there are many different ways in which a country can be destroyed. For example, in a relatively short period of time, this terrible synergy of the worst ideas and the worst people has traumatised and maddened and humiliated a nation which was once regarded as being fairly resistant to that sort of garbage.

If it succeeds, the United Kingdom is gone - literally, in the sense that Scotland will be leaving the UK on the first available flight, and spiritually in the sense that whatever is left will be a burnt-out case, an unavoidable consequence of any state of affairs that originated in the minds of men such as Nigel Farage.

Yes, if it succeeds, it will do damage of a kind that the Germans never managed, and at the end of this particular war, Britain will lose. And after that, they will keep on losing.

If it succeeds… but of course it has not succeeded, not yet and maybe not ever. There is indeed another analogy with World War II, in that the various parties which have formed the resistance to Brexit can be favourably compared to the gallant Brits who saw off the invaders in whatever form they took during the 1940s.

If you count Theresa May's delay until April 12 last year, there has now been No Brexit not once, not twice, but three times.

That's a lot of No Brexits there. You might even be seeing a pattern in it.

Personally, I have never believed the result of the fraudulent 2016 referendum, and I sense there is still in the hearts of a large majority of Britons a deep reluctance to go down into this dungeon, with its unknown pleasures - hell, even for the Brexit Party there is the downside that if there is Brexit, there will not be much call for a Brexit Party.

The UK just keeps refusing at that final fence, but this is not just down to those fabled national traits of common sense and caution - it is the result of truly remarkable efforts on the part of many Brits to hold back those tides of badness.

They shouldn't have been able to stop it at all, the odds against them at the start were overwhelming, they have seemed outnumbered and outgunned by the brutish onslaught of the enemy. And yet they have managed it somehow.

Official Ireland has had its fun, mocking the Brits at this difficult time, and yet as Irish politics offers us a Dail voting scandal of breathtaking banality, there have been MPs like Hilary Benn and Dominic Grieve - good old "Grievesie" - performing the most dazzling manoeuvres to outwit the other side, to save their country. Some have actually been sacrificing their careers for the cause.

Out of this evil episode has emerged some hope and glory too. Apart from those who have resisted publicly, we trust there have been Deep State saboteurs weaving their subterranean magic - the sort of people who in the movies they will make about this war will be the equivalent of the codebreakers at Bletchley Park.

We may also be sure that in those movies, the crew formerly known as "the bad boys of Brexit" will not be viewed as such jolly fellows - but then much of this depends on whether they end up on the losing side.

Yes, there is a war going on, and this election will be a crucial engagement. Except this time the enemy has got as far as Downing Street - this blonde, blue-eyed leader with the foreign name, who is prepared to see the UK ruined for nothing more than his own personal ambition and that of his appalling associates.

Against this, there is every good instinct in the British character, that force which has been marshalled to the limit until now, these oddly heroic individuals who have to find a way to strategise, to conjure up one more victory against the odds - to make this their finest hour.

Farewell to a Hollywood godfather of movie magic

As Head of Production at Paramount Pictures and as an independent producer, Robert Evans was associated with the making of the following movies: The Odd Couple, Rosemary's Baby, Barefoot In The Park, The Italian Job, True Grit, Love Story, The Godfather, Serpico, The Conversation, Urban Cowboy, The Great Gatsby, Popeye, The Cotton Club, Marathon Man and Chinatown.

When he died last week, I was looking through the obituaries and realised that I have seen all these films, and enjoyed all of them, and that six of them are among my all-time favourites - these would be The Odd Couple, The Italian Job, The Godfather, Serpico, The Conversation and Chinatown.

And of that six, I would say that three of them, The Odd Couple, The Godfather and Chinatown, are films that I love in a deep and special way - indeed, it is clear that Robert Evans has been a force for good in my life and the lives of many other admirers of his work, for a lot longer than was the case with many of his lovers and even with some of his wives.

I noted, for example, that he married the first of his seven wives in 1961, and was with her until 1962 - which was actually quite a long run compared to his 1998 marriage which apparently lasted for nine days.

But it was his contribution to the pictures which was most fascinating, how there are some who claim that The Godfather wasn't the masterpiece it became until Evans insisted that Francis Ford Coppola made it longer - though in Coppola's own version, all Evans did was meddle with the editing.

And this being the movies, neither of these versions may be true - because I've read that Evans was fiercely opposed to the casting of Al Pacino, but I've also read that he went to the trouble of getting a mob fixer who was also a lawyer to get Pacino out of a contract so he could be in the picture.

Then again, both of these things may be true, such men place a low value on mediocre traits such as consistency.

The greatest of all Hollywood storytellers, William Goldman, worked with Evans on Marathon Man, and he is most fascinating on the eternal mystery of why some things turn out right, and some things turn out wrong and anyway, nobody knows anything.

Marathon Man was originally a novel written by Goldman for which Evans supposedly paid $500,000 for the film rights. But Goldman recalled most fondly the fact that during the making of the movie, Sir Laurence Olivier asked him if he would mind shifting a few words around in one particular line, and called him "Bill".

It's the little things… and it's the big things too.

Rams wandering like sheep in football's moral maze

As they wander through the moral maze, unlikely ever to emerge, Derby County will say that they sacked their club captain and Ireland international Richard Keogh for not wearing a seatbelt in a road accident which led to the arrest of two of his team-mates for drink-driving.

Keogh, who suffered a serious knee injury on the night, is now taking legal action against the club, which has not sacked the other two players. Unlike them, Keogh is 33.

Weirdly, this is the second time we have had to deal with ethical issues involving Derby. We've been there already with their signing of Wayne Rooney on a massive contract backed by the club's "official betting partner" 32Red. Leaving aside whether this violates the Financial Fair Play code (we'd be here all night), there was the fast one they pulled by having Wayne wearing the No 32 shirt when he joins them in January.

And leaving aside the matter of Wayne Rooney once reportedly losing half-a-million quid in two hours at a Manchester casino, it is arguable the saturation of football and other sports in gambling advertising is as unwise as cigarette or drink sponsorship used to be.

Unacceptable, too, was the corporate line that "we are keen to leverage Wayne's involvement and the support of 32Red with our community initiatives, expanding the work such as the Team Talk mental health programme which is supported by our Community Trust and 32Red..."

Leaving aside the conflation of a mental health programme with one of the most addictive activities known to mankind, perhaps the main thing to note here is that 32Red is mentioned twice. And so is "community", because they love that one.

Interestingly, the community around Derbyshire is a bit agricultural. Indeed, the club's nickname is the Rams. Which reminds me that my friend, the late Philip Chevron, who was a fanatical supporter of Derby's bitter East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest, would routinely refer to Derby County as the Sheepshaggers.

Looks like we'll have to leave that to one side too.

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