Posts Tagged ‘like’

Adolf, the dog that looks like Hitler

March 4th, 2015


Hairdresser Claire Walsh is looking for a new home for Adolf (Wales News Service)

Mrs Walsh, from Gorseinon, Swansea, added: “We have called him Adolf – although, obviously, it is just tongue-in-cheek.

“We don’t have any time for what Hitler stands for, but we can see there is a resemblance.”

The family are now looking for new homes for Adolf and his siblings – although Claire and husband Niall’s son Zak, 11, has already grown attached to the puppy.

“Zak loves him,” said Mrs Walsh. “He is the cheekiest in the litter, and is full of character. One of the pubs has already gone, but we are still looking to find homes for the others.

“I bred the puppies myself, and have been looking to sell them.”


The house in Port Tenant, Swansea, that looks like Hitler (Athena)

The dog lives just four miles from a house that caused an intenet sensation for looking like Hitler.

The end property on a terrace in Port Tennant went viral after comedian Jimmy Carr retweeted a photo of the building.

The lintel above the door echoes the toothbrush moustache of the Nazi dictator and the black sloping roof resembles his hair.


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‘I told Idi Amin his fake VC made him look like a fool’

January 2nd, 2015

She began by typing the letters and straightening the stamps on the envelopes but soon became involved in the planning of church services, receptions, tea parties and meetings with the Royal Family for the biennial reunions. Gradually she demonstrated her administrative skills by tactfully carrying out the withdrawal of the earlier Albert and Edward Medals for gallantry and the smooth translation of their 160 holders to the George Cross, which brought the association’s membership briefly to 400.

After two years she left to remarry and become a farmer’s wife, but was never forgotten. When trouble was brewing over the Asian community in newly independent Uganda, her second husband, Major Iain Grahame, was asked by the Foreign Office to make a series of visits to Idi Amin, his former sergeant in the Uganda Rifles; on one occasion Didy went too.

When she was introduced to President Amin she showed her mettle by promptly telling him to remove the fake VC from his chest, saying it made him look a fool. The assembled company went grey. But he took it off and never wore it again. Later Amin asked Didy if she was sometimes afraid of her husband, because he was.

After some years helping her husband to start the World Pheasant Association, run bird watching safaris in East Africa and build up a bookselling business, she returned to the association’s office in Admiralty Arch as the secretary. There was much more to do, thanks to improved communications, in maintaining contact with overseas members, liaising with Buckingham Palace, departments of state, the armed forces and Commonwealth governments. But it became clear that the job required much more in the modern world.

The VC and the GC may be the most prestigious gallantry medals in the world but the recipients receive no great benefits apart from the chance to ride in the RAF aircraft which used to collect overseas members from around the world for the reunion. (Today the holders have to travel on commercial airliners.)

They come from very different cultures in a group whose ages currently range from 27 to 99. Those from the dominions can fit seamlessly into London life, first timers need to be shown what to do when they meet the Queen, encounter the Press and face crowds. For many, Didy has seemed a fairy godmother with her ravishing smile and soft, assuring voice and ability to make friends instantly. She can cope with any emergency, share a joke or offer sympathy; though officials who have worked with her note steel beneath the surface if she feels her friends – as they all are – have been insulted, ignored or forced to do things of which they disapprove. A few, who have been bruised crossing swords with her, say she is a dragon lady. Robert Fellowes, the Queen’s former private secretary, has tactfully commented: “A happy Didy. A happy Robert”.

While pacifist journalists are not so common these days, she still encounters those who come to her inadequately briefed; and politicians have been known to try to push their way into events. Three years ago when an Australian inquiry was considering the possibility of making retrospective awards for actions in the First and Second World Wars, Didy submitted a judicious paper pointing out that although the VC-GC Association played no part in the selection process she advised there was a risk of witnesses’ memories dimming with age and therefore risking the standard for the VC. In addition she had to be on the lookout for commercial encroachment, similar to when the English Rugby Union unwisely incorporated VC images logo their team shirt without any consultation.

Above all, she has memories. She remembers the time the Royal party was sweeping past 44 GCs on a state visit to Malta – until she drew attention to them with a significant glance to the Queen; and when the Australian VC, Sir Roden [sic] Cutler, rose to introduce his fellow members to her at the Royal Tournament only to find his metal leg had suddenly come loose. There was the time she received a call in the office, saying an Australian member had just died over India when the plane was carrying the party home from a reunion. Luckily Keith Payne, who won the VC in Vietnam, came up with a practical suggestion: the body was to be made upright for easier removal as rigor mortis set in, then placed in a lavatory guarded by a steward. And there was the time when she introduced New York firemen who had fought the twin towers conflagration to Harry Errington, GC. He held them enraptured describing how the Auxiliary Fire Service coped with the Blitz in 1940.

Having known her beloved charges so long she knows what drives them. “The extraordinary thing is the way the experience of cheating death gives a huge feeling of humility,” she says. “The members tend to be perfectionists, tidy, or at least well-ordered, aware of what is going on in the world and living their lives to the full whatever their age. They are happy to do whatever they are asked – until they see some injustice. And several have said to me: ‘If I had not won the award I could have ended up in prison. But it put me on the straight and narrow. One doesn’t want to let others down.’

“They have an inner quality which doesn’t need to show off or throw their weight around in any way. Seventy-five per cent of those I’ve known were the responsible child of an early widowed mother or the eldest in a large family, which meant they spent their whole childhood looking after their siblings”.

When she went back to the association in 1981 it was clear that the previous inglorious decade had sharpened the public’s appreciation of its heroes, particularly when Colonel H Jones and Sergeant Ian McKay were awarded posthumous VCs for the Falklands war. Since then a long queue of anniversaries have needed the association’s participation. VE Day, VJ Day, the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday and funeral, the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation; all could not possibly be celebrated without the presence of the association’s members.

As many of the Second World War generation aged, with newspaper stories appearing about some having to eke out their last days before dying in straitened circumstances, Didy started to visit them. On a visit to Harare in 2002 she rapped the knuckles of the British High Commission by suggesting that Captain Gerard Norton, who had won a VC in Italy in 1944, should come to a lunch at the British High Commission: he had never been invited before.

But while for long much of her activity involved funerals and memorial services, new awards stemming from the Blair wars led to significant change. Aged 18, Trooper Chris Finney earned a GC in Iraq in 2003 after rescuing a comrade from one burning vehicle and trying to rescue another while wounded himself; afterwards he faced a roar of publicity far fiercer than any before. Such younger recipients meant Didy underwent new experiences, meeting a new kind of award-holder who might have a different girl on his arm each time, and finding herself drawn into their weddings, babies and divorces while counselling them on the responsibilities of fame and career changes.

In recent years she has also played important roles in getting published a three-volume authoritative account of all VCs and GCs and the unveiling of the memorial to holders at a ceremony attended by their descendants at Westminster Abbey. She has helped to create a benevolent fund to provide for the restoration of graves, and invited widows to be involved in the charitable work of the association.

After finally handing over to an able successor a month ago, Didy claims to be resting at the moment, though she still has much to do as a board member of several different charities. But as a private individual at last she is focusing her attention now on the extraordinary small number of civilians being recognised for brave actions while the military and police service have well practised procedures making recommendations. “The system needs to be rebooted,” she says. And no doubt she will play an important part in achieving that.


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Star Wars: The Force Awakens ‘like Europe in 1944′

December 3rd, 2014

Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be the darkest Star Wars film yet, with a LucasFilm insider comparing the galaxy’s situation to “the European theatre of 1944″, with the Empire being Germany and the Republic the Allies in a war of attrition.

The rumours come from a substantial leak of information from a 4Chan user called Spoiler Man, who claims to be a LucasFilm employee. Around 3,000 words of character information, plotlines and even parts of the script emerged online during the weekend and have since been posted on the Star Wars Reddit feed.

Given the source, the information is being treated cautiously by fans, however some of it corroborates with leaked concept art and other already reported spoilers about The Force Awakens.

Although there are potentially big giveaways about the character and plotlines of the characters played by Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Lupita N’yongo, the leak suggests JJ Abrams’ film will lack the levity and humour of the original trilogy. Instead, the script, which is described as being “too good for Abrams”, is far more dystopian, with people bunkering down and keeping a low profile for safety in the war-torn universe.

Notably, Luke is among those who have exiled themselves for his own safety and “a handful” of future Jedi trainees who must also never appear in the open.

Spoiler Man added that, despite ongoing rumours, Benedict Cumberbatch will not be making an appearance in the film, and that all rumours will be confirmed in February when the contracts of those who worked on the film in the UK will end – allowing them to let on more information.

Read the full post on Reddit at your peril. Here’s our rundown of Star Wars news, rumours and spoilers so far.


World War Two

What Hitler’s sex life was really like

October 15th, 2014

Yet inevitably it is their sex life that has filled tomes, because in sex, we believe, a person’s deepest essence is revealed. Rumours of homosexuality had dogged Hitler since the early Twenties, repeated in Munich newspapers and bolstered by his close relationship with Ernst Röhm, the homosexual head of the Sturmabteilung, the Nazi Party militia.

There is good reason to believe that he did have repressed homosexual tendencies, yet the dictator’s interest in women is also well-attested. He would invite actresses back to his apartment for “private performances”. One actress, Renata Müller, spread rumours about Hitler’s alleged proclivity for self-abasement, with suggestions that he knelt at her feet and asked her to kick him. When she fell to her death from a window in 1937, many questioned the verdict of suicide.

Even more eye-catching was the secret 1943 report from America’s Office of Strategic Services (forerunner of the CIA) which labelled Hitler an “impotent coprophile”. Based on claims from Otto Strasser, one of Hitler’s opponents in the Party, it alleged that the dictator forced his niece Geli to urinate and defecate on him. While it is hard to separate reality from politically inspired propaganda, Hitler’s obsession with the unfortunate Geli was probably the deepest of his life, and her suicide in his apartment brought him close to breakdown. Geli, like Eva, did not threaten him intellectually. “There is surely nothing finer than to educate a young thing for oneself,” he opined. “A lass of 18 or 20 years old is as pliable as wax.”

It is impossible to peer behind the bedroom door, but Amis’s speculation that Hitler was “sexually a void”, because of his obsession with hygiene, is contradicted by observers at the time, who suggest that Hitler and Eva did share a bed as a couple. They had interconnecting bedrooms at the Berghof and Hitler’s valet, Heinz Linge, attests that they would go to bed together.


Evidence suggests that Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun did share a bed as a couple

While Hitler’s maid, Pauline Kohler, wrote that “Hitler is not strongly sexed”, Eva Braun’s correspondence reveals nothing unusual – certainly not along the lines of fully clothed sex – except that once war had broken out, Hitler was unable to get interested. She used to show her friends a 1938 photograph of Neville Chamberlain on a sofa in Hitler’s Munich flat, saying: “If only he knew what goings-on that sofa has seen!”

It would be surprising, as Amis says, that such a warped psychology as Hitler’s could ever be “a considerate and energetic lover”. Yet, once I began to write about the Nazi wives, I realised that the ability of mass murderers to compartmentalise their lives is one of their most disturbing aspects.

A new documentary about Himmler’s home life, called The Decent One, by the acclaimed filmmaker Vanessa Lapa, focuses on the tender personal letters between Himmler and his wife Marga, largely about their daughter Puppi, even as he perpetrated daily atrocities. It raises the same questions as Thomas Harding’s book Hanns and Rudolf, about the private life of Rudolf Höss, the Auschwitz commandant, whose children played just yards away from the camp, oblivious of the horrors occurring there.

Looking at the women who loved the Nazis is not prurient. It matters because viewing the Nazi leaders on the human scale – as fathers, lovers and husbands – is what makes their activities more repellent than ever.

Jane Thynne’s new novel A War of Flowers is published by Simon & Schuster on November 20


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What it was like to watch Mount Vesuvius erupt in 1944

March 28th, 2014

I’m not sure about the height of Vesuvius, but I think it is about 4,500 feet. It has two peaks, Vesuvius being the highest by about 200 feet or so, while the other ends abruptly in a jagged edge. This was the volcano which caused such devastation to Pompeii and the neighbourhood in AD79. The whole thing is a perfect cone shape rising straight out of the great dead-flat plain of Naples. (We were located in Caserta Palace, about 15 miles away.)

For the greater part of the winter the upper half is covered in snow, and from the crater came a varying amount of smoke, not much more than from a factory chimney. One afternoon, when Jeff and I were out for a walk, we noticed a greater amount of smoke than usual, but thought no more about it. After dark, however, we noticed a deep red glow on the peak, and could see molten lava being thrown high in the sky and cascading down over the sides. It was a most amazing sight, and we watched it for some time. We still didn’t realise quite what was happening until we read in the morning papers that Vesuvius had given its most spectacular display for 15 years.

It got more and more spectacular as the days went by, and we saw millions of tons of molten rock slithering down the sides. The papers were saying this was the worst eruption for over two hundred years. Unfortunately, it was rather misty on many days, and all we could see was the steam and smoke from the streams of lava, which, by the fifth day, were almost down to the plain. It was much better at night as we could clearly see the lava being thrown high into the sky every few seconds, to fall back in a great cascade on the mass already moving down the mountain. All we could see of the stream lower down was the glow from burning trees and the face of the thirty-foot wall of lava advancing on the towns of San Sebastiano and Cercola, at 300 yards an hour. These were soon evacuated.

The slopes of Vesuvius are covered by some of the best vineyards in the country, and the whole area is very heavily cultivated. Hundreds of acres of this valuable land were being swallowed up never to see the light of day again. The uncanny part of this is that this was nature in action, and no one could do anything about it.

Ray Small, working in a special communications unit in Calcutta around a year after the eruption

San Sebastiano was the first town to get it. One evening I was listening to Advanced Press Headquarters where correspondents broadcast their reports to England and the States. None of the reporters mentioned the war – it was Vesuvius and nothing else. They broadcast a recording by two National Broadcasting Company commentators. They had spent a day with a portable up on the slopes, and they seemed to be having a hot time of it.

These guys had gone up so far that you could clearly hear the terrific roar as the lava shot out almost continually. Later they went into San Sebastiano and watched it slowly disappear. They said that in all their experience as war reporters, they had never seen such systematic and complete destruction. When 2,000 bombers wrecked Cassino, there were still skeletons of buildings, rubble and the rough outlines of the town to be seen, and the noise had been terrific.

In San Sebastiano they said there was a deathlike quiet except for a faint gurgle as the black crust of the lava broke and a mass of white-hot rock oozed out to advance a few more yards. About a third of the town had already gone; where it had stood was nothing but a big slag heap of lava, and a memory. Of the houses and shops that were there, neither stick nor stone remained in sight and would perhaps never see the light of day again. Bombs make a terrific row and leave ruins. Lava makes no sound and leaves – nothing.

Can you imagine a 10 to 30 foot mass of molten rock slowly engulfing Wembley High Street, and, when it is all over, not a stone was left in sight? Sounds crazy, but that’s the way it is. The lava slowly approaches a building, the heat setting it on fire, and starts seeping through doors and windows like a lot of thick treacle. The lava continues to flow in as into a mould, until the pressure of thousands of tons of molten rock becomes too much, and the building collapses, sinking through the thin crust and disappearing for ever.

The first stage of the eruption, when the lava was being thrown out, lasted about eight days. During this period, unknown millions of tons had been thrown out over the side, converting the mountain into a giant shifting slag heap. The main stream coming down the “Valley of the Inferno” had, at different times, caused the evacuation of three or four towns and several smaller places. San Sebastiano, along with scattered farms, was the only town obliterated and there had been no casualties.

The second, most amazing, awe-inspiring and fantastic stage followed. The lava stopped coming up, and in its place came smoke and volcanic ash. These came in such quantities as to be impossible to imagine. Gigantic, dense billows of smoke gushed up to 9,000 feet and more, before the wind could deviate it from the vertical. It was an amazing sight, and impossible to describe. It wasn’t just a vast plume, it was a dense, billowy, purple mass against the bright blue sky. The second day of this stage produced the most amazing sight of the whole eruption. The whole quivering, white-hot top of Vesuvius blew off with a terrific roar and a colossal, billowing mass of smoke and ash shot up to a height of three miles. It was really a most ridiculous and fantastic sight, this massive purple, black and pink mass soaring up into the sky.

It was the day after this that several of us decided to go and have a closer look at all this. It was another swell day, and as we drove the fifteen miles, we could see everything to perfection. As we got nearer and nearer, the gigantic mass of smoke towered higher and higher above us. It was continually billowing in and out, and the sun gave it every colour from black, grey and white to purple, blue, red etc.

Towering thousands of feet above us like that made us feel very tiny indeed, believe me. There was this colossal mass of smoke towering up into the heavens and merging to the right with a dense brownish fog. As we entered this fog, the sun vanished and it became very gloomy. We were rather puzzled at first to see that everyone was using some sort of head covering – umbrellas, saucepans and such like. We also noticed that everything was covered with what looked like rust-coloured snow, and the noise from the car on the road subsided into a quiet hiss. We therefore stopped and got out to see what all this was about.

Imagine our surprise when we were stung by millions of minute particles of rock. They were small, but they stung, and were thick enough to cause a fog. We got back in the car and went in search of a road up. We passed through a number of villages, and they were all strangely deserted. What with that, the gloom, the ash on the road silencing everything, and the great mass of smoke above us, it made us feel very queer. We went as far as we could in the car and then went on foot to look for the lava. Tons of ash were still coming down and I rearranged my cap to stop it going down my neck. Instead, I got it in my hair, and it took me three days to get it all out.

Unfortunately, we could not get very close to the lava as barricades were in place, but we got fairly near a great wall of it which was coming over a ridge towards us. We had a wonderful view where we were, however. We were only at the base of it, of course, but the smoke was going straight over the top of us, and was the most awe-inspiring sight I have ever seen.

The second phase of smoke and ash lasted for about two weeks, gradually dropping off the whole time. No one had been hurt in the lava, but about twenty people died in the ash, either through houses collapsing under the weight of it, or, in some cases, from asphyxiation. That will give you some idea how thickly the ash came down at some stages. Needless to say, this ash has ruined crops over a vast area. Places as far away as Salerno and the Isle of Capri received it. Long term, however, the areas of ash become very productive agricultural land. The smoke was so immense at one time that chickens went to roost in Bari on the east coast, and it continued across the Adriatic to Yugoslavia.

It’s all over now and, except for its new shape, Vesuvius is back to normal. It was swell while it lasted, and I am tickled to death that I was lucky enough to see so much of it from beginning to end.


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