People in my generation were born during the Second World War. Our parents were in the Armed Forces or associated support services. Others shared experience on the Home Front. Impressive achievements included the preparations for democracy in post-war Germany and for building a better Britain too.
The tragedy was the division of Europe by what became known as the Iron Curtain. That division left many victims of the Nazis as victims of the rulers of the USSR, at least until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet empire.
During Parliament Week, in discussions with pupils, students and teachers, I realise many were not around when the countries of central and eastern Europe could not choose their governments, their political representatives or freedom. When first I stood for parliament, Spain and Portugal and Greece were dictatorships. Yugoslavia had not broken up. Czechoslovakia was one country.
I have given funeral and memorial addresses for people who survived serious threats to life during WWII. One was sunk twice before enduring life as a Japanese prisoner-of- war. Another suffered the loss of his jaw and a bullet through the chest. Neither was resentful nor ever expressed hatred.
I commend the recent film The Great Escaper. Michael Caine’s character leaves his sparky understanding wife played by Glenda Jackson to visit Normandy. One scene illustrated mutual feelings as the German and British veterans meet. In each of my early years as an MP, I would join Turkish, British and Commonwealth veterans of the 1915 Gallipoli campaign.
This past weekend I have attended the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly session with the spectrum of elected politicians from Sinn Fein to Unionists, together with representatives from the Isle of Man and from the States of Jersey and Guernsey. Senators and TDs from Dublin are clear that their ancestors were nationalists, not terrorists.
The terrible conflict in Ukraine, the brutality of the Hamas attack on Israelis in Israel, the suffering in Gaza and what happens from now on will be assessed by historians; those writers will not agree on causes just as opinion writers disagree on what now is justified or necessary.
Locally, I was charmed and impressed by the Ukrainian art exhibition at the Worthing Museum. Yaroslava and her colleague explained each of the displays, including paintings, embroidery, headbands and brooches. Save the date: on Saturday 25 November, there will be a Day of Ukrainian Culture at the Museum and Art Gallery.
Later I was welcomed by players and staff at Buzz Bingo. Ken Turner, the general manager, has come from Dover. Everyone anticipates a special Halloween evening.
Congratulations and thanks go to Lt Cdr Cllr Noel Atkins and Lionel Harman with others for organising The Immortal Memory for the Royal Naval Association’s Nelson Dinner at the Ardington Hotel in the Steyne. We are also grateful to the Mayor and his consort for attending the dinner. Vice Admiral Nelson was immortalised during his lifetime. He was most famous for the victory at the Battle of the Nile before his final and fatal success near Cape Trafalgar.
I spoke about the dinner I hosted in 2003 when two marine generals and 38 admirals were present. The music included a cellist playing the great naval tune Tom Bowling, then Cleopatra (the Salad Days song about Egypt), before everyone joined the chorus to The Ruler of the Queen’s Navee / When I was a Lad.
On Wednesday this week, I have a question to the Prime Minister. I could draw his attention to the new jobs figures. There are almost four million extra people in work since 2010. Locally the Office of National Statistics has published the constituency claimant count. The 2.9% of the population between 16-64 is significantly lower than the UK claimant rate of 3.7%.
As Rishi Sunak completes his first year as prime minister, we can discuss progress and areas where more progress is needed. We can make history together.