Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out ...


Alongside the usual kettles, teabags, coffee filters and coffee makers my George Square kitchen is littered with pictures.

On the upper left resides an image from Lake Garda alongside a redundant flat-screen TV which hides a hole in the wall made by a previous incumbent of the property. We are talking lath and plaster here, not plaster-board, and the fragile lath option is less than forgiving.
On the far bottom right is an illustration an artist- son Ben penned for some long-forgotten illustrator who had, at one time worked as a cover- artist for a latter-day Pink-Floyd.

Above the redundant flat-screen, is an illustration for a 2017 Leopard article. Oldmeldrum was the theme as I recall and for some unknown reason the line-drawn graphic, in all its magnificence, failed to make it into print. But, it did make my kitchen wall.

As for Bob, well, he was a fictional character in a short story competition. I don’t often enter such things, after all most entrants are pretty much bound to lose. On this occasion however, I decided to take a chance.
The fee was just a fiver so, I went for it. Guidelines suggested 500 words and no more.

Titled My Uncle Bob it read as follows:

“Back in the day, my uncle Bob had an unfortunate habit of showing off his appendage to anyone prepared to pay much attention.

On holiday weekends he would sneak it out during the Saturday afternoon tea-dances down by the beach. The family would pretend not to notice when he hurrahed loudly and pulled out his trouser pockets in what appeared to be an elephant impression.
On the Sunday, he was often treated to an ice cream and, if he promised to keep his hands above his waist a plate of shrimps was proffered also.

To this day I have no idea why. But, it appeared to have the desired effect and the hurrahing became more of a purr.

He passed when I was nine and following the service we all attended an evening concert at the open-air bathing pavilion. Holidaymakers were invited up on stage to give a song or play an instrument and there was a balding comedian with a red jacket.
After the midnight bathing I have a recollection that next morning we bought milk and eggs from the local farmer.

I seem to recall black pudding as well, but I am unsure. 
He was a big, burly man in a boiler suit and I was told by my auntie that he had been a famous body-builder in his day. Latterly, the caravans were moved to the area directly behind the pavilion and the cafes. I think there is a chip shop there now.”

I am still awaiting the £600 prize.

The original gold painted picture frame on the right, where Bob’s tale now hangs, held an A-4 rendering of that old Niemöller classic which reads something like:
‘First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out.
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out.
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out.
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.’
There are of course many versions of Niemöller’s statement and the likes of Philip Green and Donald Trump may be required to recite a good few of them alongside the pearly gates.
What struck me in particular though, was that despite the fact that I had replaced Niemöller’s political statement with Bob’s ‘Back in the day, my uncle Bob had an unfortunate habit of showing off his appendage to anyone prepared to pay much attention’ - 500-word story some months ago, absolutely no-one has even noticed the change.

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