Saturday, February 06, 2010

"Sous les pavés la plage"

A striking bit from Tony Judt's latest installment of short memoirs in the New York Review of Books (subscription required):
Without question, the 1960s were a good time to be young. Everything appeared to be changing at unprecedented speed and the world seemed to be dominated by young people (a statistically verifiable observation). On the other hand, at least in England, change could be deceptive. As students we vociferously opposed the Labour government's support for Lyndon Johnson's war in Vietnam. I recall at least one such protest in Cambridge, following a talk there by Denis Healey, the defense minister of the time. We chased his car out of the town—a friend of mine, now married to the EU high commissioner for foreign affairs, leaped onto the hood and hammered furiously at the windows.

It was only as Healey sped away that we realized how late it was—college dinner would start in a few minutes and we did not want to miss it. Heading back into town, I found myself trotting alongside a uniformed policeman assigned to monitor the crowd. We looked at each other. "How do you think the demonstration went?" I asked him. Taking the question in stride—finding in it nothing extraordinary—he replied: "Oh I think it went quite well, Sir."


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