Stuff I learnt at The Imperial War Museum

My weekend kicked off in rather bizarre fashion. My brother & I volunteered to tag along with my dad to go south for a meeting with a Canadian multi-millionaire and the curator of the Imperial War Museum (I gathered it was something to do with manufacturing figurines for an anniversary of some sort for the Airborne Forces…). Stuff I learnt there:

1. Meetings can end up in unexpected territory.

It was the first time I’d been to anything even resembling an army barracks so that was rather interesting in itself. But I think perhaps the stand-out moment was when the curator produced this from a drawer in the office:

That, my friend, is Hitler’s private bathroom key (my dad asked me if I wanted to pose next to it but I’m not sure there is a correct way to pose with a swastika). Apparently some paratroopers scavenged around for some souvenir at his bunker after he’d killed himself and this was the only thing they found, still stuck in the keyhole, after everything else had been nicked. It was unnerving seeing it, not only because it belonged to the most evil man in the world but because it was just such a personal item. This is the key he would have been hunting down when he was really desperate for the loo, and it’s tangible proof that he was a human just like anyone else. THAT is, in my opinion, what makes it scary. As much as anyone likes to pretend that he really was just the ridiculous pantomime villain that British propaganda made him out to be, it’s also important to remember (as stupid as this sounds) that he was a real person, and that the Second World War was the result of a powerful force being put in the possession of a very angry, very twisted, human. This still happens today. And that’s scary.

2. Spitfires are awesome.

After the meeting we parked up at the museum and were fortunate enough to see biplanes and World War-era aircraft take off in preparation for an airshow. It all gave me a new-found respect for these amazing machines but, in particular, the Spitfire:

It really is a spectacular sight and you can see how it has caught the public’s imagination somewhat, despite it being the Hurricane that was the dominant force in those famous Battle of Britain dogfights. I think this was a special two-seater variant, and a ride would cost you a few thousand pounds (as well as a pilot’s license of your own!). I still think it’d be worth it though.

3. My dad is old enough to be in a museum.

Because he is:

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