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9th November 2009

Yesterday, I went to church, read the lesson and then we had a very simple and moving laying of poppy wreaths on the modest war memorial outside the church. Mine is a rather poor church, that badly needs financial help, with a wonderful priest and an unusual and interesting collection of people, making up the congregation. It is Anglican and we have lovely music, courtesy of the immensely talented musical director, who puts his heart and soul into his very small choir and the other week conducted a wonderful production of Mozart’s Requiem, with about 6 orchestra members, 10 choir and 4 soloists. All it takes is the commitment and the right people.

Going back to Remembrance Sunday, there seemed to be more involvement from people this year, maybe it’s because they are more aware due to the awful tragic war in Afghanistan and the losses.

My family was heavily impacted by War in so many different ways. When it was becoming Nazified, my grandfather was thrown out of the University of Cologne where he was Professor of Dermatology, by the faculty, who then asked him back after the war. His response was as follows: Professor Emil Meirowsky, who refused reappointment to the University of Cologne with eloquent and righteous rage: "You have forfeited your call as professors," Meirowsky wrote to the dean of the medical faculty, "your call as doctors, as protagonists of humanity irrespective of race, creed, and color: I am called upon by my conscience to ask you to delete my name from the archives of your faculty." My father’s side of the family were ethnically Jewish, but not practising and my Grandfather was amazed that anyone could discriminate against him, who was so respected and lauded in his community. My father finally persuaded him and my grandmother to leave Germany.

My uncle, Dad’s brother had settled in the US some years before and became a highly decorated army surgeon in the Korean War, having taken neurosurgery on to the battlefield. And their sister, Lisamaria had become a nun in a convent where she helped people to escape across the Dutch/ German border. Sadly she did not get out and was taken to Auschwitz. I have a letter written just before she was arrested, she clearly knew what was going to happen, but being stubborn like the rest of our family, she refused to leave.

On the other side of the family - it seems so amazing to me that both sides of the family started on opposite sides at the start of the last world War - my other uncle (mother’s brother) joined the SAS and was involved in some hair raising situations which ended with him being captured and sent to prisoner of war. He didn’t leave it there, but escaped and walked 500 miles down Italy from North to South to meet up with the invading US troops. He wrote to his mother in February 1943 “ I must tell you I was not captured without a fight and I had a damned good run for my money, before I was finally put in the bag”.

Dad went to fight for the British, once he got his citizenship. Before that he was interned with his father at a camp in Liverpool, where he acted as a sort of informant on Nazi prisoners there and translated. His hatred for the Nazi’s never really went away and he did not revisit Germany until 1974. He changed the family name from Meirowsky to Merrow, by cutting off the ‘sky’ and making the ‘i’ an ‘r’. Then he discovered there was a town called Merrow in Surrey, so he was pleased all round.

Afghanistan and Iraq are much more localised wars, but I do not doubt that there are amazing stories of bravery, determination and loyalty to tell, just in all wars. War seems to bring out the best and the worst of human nature. But it would be nice to believe that the human race would wake up and stop trying to dominate, change, kill, and wipe out people who do not believe as they do and take away their homes.

Well enough of that for now, but yesterday’s ceremonies were very moving and sad.

Well we’re getting into the Awards season now, with all the films to see and eventually vote on. I have seen some excellent films already this year and I am sure there will be more to come. “Sin Nombre” if it comes around is well worth seeing as is “Me and Orson Welles”, a very funny film about a season spent by a young student with Orson Welles, at the famed Mercury Theatre in New York for a production of “Julius Caesar”. The actor playing Orson Wells, Christian McKay is uncannily like him in style, mannerisms and voice. I hope he hasn’t backed himself into a corner, with such a good performance. It can happen, because if you are wonderful in a part, that’s all the industry wants you to play for ever after. It looked as if I was set to do period and princesses for all eternity after “The Lion in Winter’!

Well folks that’s about it for this time. More soon! Jane
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