Peter Rhodes on Theresa's tears, the no-fly movement and the privilege of chatting with the warriors of D-Day

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published: | Last Updated:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

The Longest Day

I FORECAST that Theresa May's term would end in tears. I suggested her likely successor, Boris Johnson, is trouble. After her weepy farewell and as the battle to succeed her heats up and the EU election results sink in, there are only two things to add.

FIRSTLY, if you believe the line that May was the worst prime minister ever, wait until you see the next one. Secondly, about that sobbing in Downing Street. Mrs May wrote her own resignation speech. She must have known that the closing line about loving her country would reduce her to tears, so why write it, and why read it out? Real tears deserve all our sympathy. Self-induced tears don't.

WHEN it comes to saying goodbye, I much preferred Tony Blair's last words to the Commons in 2007: "I wish everyone, friend or foe, well and that is that, the end." It had an air of Bilbo Baggins about it. I half-expected Blair to slip the Ring on his finger and vanish. And although it was the end only of Blair's political life as an MP, his words reminded me of Shakespeare's lines on the death of Macbeth: "Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it."

HISTORY'S verdict on Theresa May? Columnist Rod Liddle quipped: "In negotiating with Brussels she was hopeless - the kind of person who comes out of DFS with a full-price sofa."

AS next week's 75th anniversary of D-Day approaches, I take pride in my little book, For a Shilling a Day. First published in 2002, it's a compilation of interviews with about 200 old warriors, most of whom have since died. The chapter on D-Day from the first glider landings to nightfall on June 6, 1944, is told by squaddies and sailors who were there. Thanks to their powers of recall, it builds into one of the most vivid narratives of the Longest Day you'll find anywhere. For a Shilling a Day is no longer available new but, as bookshops and libraries turn over their stock, you can occasionally pick up good used copies for less than a fiver.

I FOUND a copy for £3 on eBay a few days ago. I was not surprised that it fell open at the much-read section on D-Day and the incomparable memories of Sgt Horace Hill from Cradley. As the commander of a converted Churchill tank, he was pitched against the beach defences of Hitler's "impregnable" Atlantic Wall. It took the Nazis four years to build them. Horace and his pals smashed through them in just half an hour. What a day. What memories. And what a privilege to have talked with so many old soldiers to get it all down, before it was too late.

HATS off to the no-fly movement, a small but growing body of people who have chosen never to fly. I used to know lots of people like that. They were called grandparents.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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