Old ladies at war

An ode of thanks to the now old lady warriors of WW II.

A ramble on the occasion of International Women’s Day, March 8

Last November my aunt Diana died of a heart attack: still in her crumbling home in London Metroland, by her well-maintained garden, in full possession of her faculties, at the age of 92 91. Pat and I went to the funeral, and stayed with Diana’s friend and neighbour Hilary, a contemporary who complains she can only face two hours London driving at a time; and we learnt of Hilary’s war.

This post is about the stories of five old ladies in WWII: or rather of the young women they were. I will use only their first names to protect their privacy.

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Fair winds and foul

A merchant ship sets off with a working kitesail, while Congress cuts US fusion funding.

An unsolicited puff for a nice new technology from Hamburg:


Photo © Skysails

This ship is currently being loaded in Bremen with chipboard production machinery. It sets sail on Saturday for Caracas. Presumably it will follow Columbus’ route to catch the trade winds.

Here’s a streaming video of a test trip on another merchant ship in the North Sea, which shows shows how the kitesail is actually deployed – much higher than in the photo-op.

The carbon footprint of shipping is plausibly said to be 2% of the world total, more than that of Germany. The designers, Skysails, hope for fuel savings of 15-35% with fully optimised kitesails. So you are looking at a device that could potentially save Belgium’s entire footprint. (End of puff.)

But does it work?

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Saki’s Easter egg

Gavrilo Princip and Saki’s easter egg.

The reports about the bomb plot foiled by German cops using the rule of law

include the tidbit that the cell stored their materials in a house in Freudenstadt in the Black Forest.

I know Freudenstadt; it’s a cute resort town, where after you’ve bought your hand-carved ornaments in the Christmas market and sipped your Glühwein, there’s not really much else to do.


I was reminded of the chilling short story by Saki (the English writer H.H. Munro), set in a Central European town like Freudenstadt, The Easter Egg.

(Continuation gives away the punch line, so I suggest you read it first).

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Three rabbis ordained in Dresden.

Unalloyed good news is rare, so I wanted to raise my virtual glass to this. Last Thursday three rabbis were ordained in Dresden, the first in Germany since the Holocaust. (I wonder if “ordination” is the right technical term?) The rabbis trained at a Progressive rabbinical seminary attached to the University of Potsdam; another Orthodox college in Berlin will graduate its first rabbis soon.

There was apparently a lot of coverage in the German media – see here for the ZDF (German public TV) report. The BBC ran the story prominently too.

Why did the community choose Dresden for the ceremony, as it’s 125 miles south from Berlin or Potsdam?

Continue reading “Roses”