They gave their all for their country. I could ask no more.

In the mid-90s when I was first in London there used to be a tube poster for the Metropolitan Tabernacle at Elephant and Castle

Do not let the excitement of being young cause you to forget your Creator.

In the same spirit, through the middle of this month, I thought don’t let the excitement of World Cup fever cause you to forget the Royal Air Force. We watched the Centenary Service, a deeply resonant occasion, best summed up by the friends who said afterwards how proud their grandfathers would have been to see it.

After the semi-final Gareth Southgate said of this magnificent England team, ‘They gave their all for their country. I could ask no more,’ and I thought of the Royal Air Force.

Zak took photos of a storm coming in over cornfields yesterday. Artists see formal exercises in colour, composition, focus, and critics see complex allusions. And I wondered what was happening this time in 1940, or how people in Britain felt right then knowing that Hitler was about to focus his whole power on them, personally. And never give up, and know they would win. They are a mountain of an example.

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Zak Innes-Mulraine (c) IMA Photography

After and even during the World Cup, everyone was saying that we must remember the spirit of togetherness it created, and try to preserve it. The politeness of that time. The morning after a big game night, you’d expect the streets to have exploded with litter. Not so, they were tidy even when England lost. A real sense that people like the players felt the best example of themselves at that time.

One more inspiring uniting thing this month, and it surprised me. Obviously I am impressed and humbled by selfless service and dedicated sportsmanship. I thought I was going to be embarrassed by the Anti-Trump protests – discourtesy to a guest, disrespect to office, and a nightmare for tireless diplomats trying to make things work. But after watching coverage of the day’s events, it was impossible not to love it. Political satire is one of our great institutions, and the Trump Protests were Gillray and Rowlandson on the march. It might not keep tyrants out like aircraft do, but it’s always stopped them growing here.

 

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