Sunday, February 26, 2006

An 'interesting' experience and fifteen minutes of fame

Photo shows: Nita and Ron at AJEX Parade,Whitehall, Nov 2001

Looking back on the various articles that I have submitted, I seem to have written a lot of short stories based on Diary or Album entries.

The main reason for this peculiar format is that when I created my Army Album, in Trieste, in 1946, I attempted to cram into the pages of a relatively small book the highlights of eight very important years of my life, those between 1939 and 1947. It is therefore the ‘highlights’ of these years that I have, in turn, inflicted upon my reader and I can only hope that I have not been too boring in the process.

In retrospect, I think that I had an ‘interesting’ set of wartime experiences but none that were so unique or unusual for men of my age group, i.e. those born in the 1920’s.
Even the fact that I ‘changed jobs’, i.e. from Light Ack Ack to being in the Royal Armoured Corps, was not rare for men in the forces, particularly at the closing stages of the war when many regiments were being broken up.

Where I appear to have varied from the norm was mainly down to three factors.

The first was my decision to keep a diary whilst on active service, the second was the opportunity I had to make an ‘Army Album’ in 1946 whilst waiting to get out of the Army and the final factor was that I got myself involved in computing at the tender age of sixty-two.
As the direct result of all of these ‘factors’, I was in a good position to be able to place many of my experiences and photos, for better or for worse, onto the BBC WW2 website and this, at least, I have achieved.
My Album, which up to now has been buried away in my study, is now in the Public Domain and hopefully may provide some interest to researchers into WW2.

What I didn’t conceive, when I first started submitting articles, was the immense pleasure I was about to receive by the making of many good friends. I won’t name them, they know who they are, but their responses to, and contributions made, to articles I have written have given me immense pleasure and shamed my ignorance of military history.

I would also like to take this opportunity of thanking all of the BBC WW2 Team for being so patient, and understanding with all of us ‘oldies’. Occasionally they have had to take some stick from all and sundry but they have ALWAYS replied in a most polite manner, which is more than I would have done, given the same set of circumstances.

As to my "Fifteen minutes of fame"...

It was Andy Warhol who invented the phrase "In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes."

In my case, I reckon I must have had about about an hour’s worth , I hasten to explain.

Back in the 1988 my eldest sister Esther thought it would be a good idea to compile a family book with all the surviving siblings contributing their own story about the early life of the Goldstein family. The book duly came to pass under the title of “And Then There Were Eleven”, which referred to the eleven siblings in our family.

The original book, entitled as above, was published privately in 1988, strictly for sale amongst the Goldstein family and sold out immediately.
As a result of various other parties also reading the book it was found to be of modern historical interest and it sparked off various sidelines now detailed below.

In 1990 it was ‘read’ on to Audio Tape for the Jewish Care’s Tapes for the Blind and became one of its listed popular Talking Books. The book was then lodged, by request, in the Bishopsgate Reference Library and the Steinberg Centre, thus making it accessible to researchers. It was also used in 1993-4 by the Museum of London for its Peopling of London Exhibition at the Barbican; in 1996 by the Commission for Social Equality for its ‘Roots of the Future Exhibition’ and in 1996 by Central Foundation Girls School to record 20th century life for posterity in a time capsule sunk in the foundations of its new building in Bow.

On December 11th 1999 BBC Radio 4 broadcast “In These Arms”, the final episode of a four-part series examining family life over four centuries; it featured the Goldsteins as representing an immigrant family between the two World Wars. To make this program the BBC invited me to go ‘walkabout’ in the East End of London talking about my early roots and this formed part of a very interesting program that included readings taken from the book.

On the 50th anniversary of VE Day, ITV invited me and a few other WW2 veterans down to the Imperial War Museum and filmed me in front of a Sherman tank talking about VE day 1945 as seen from a field in Venice.

In March 2005 The BBC WW2 Peoples War filmed a trailer to encourage people to send in articles for the site. Together with Frank Mee and Joan Styan I made up the third member of an unlikely trio and the results were shown on BBC 4 for two separate weeks.

In March 2005 I was invited down to the BBC studios at White City and took part in a 25 minute interview by Stephen Sackur. Unfortunately for my self-esteem the program was never actually ‘aired’ as it clashed with the British General Elections.

The family have also managed to get entries in various books, as follows:

The Peopling of London, Edited by Nick Merriman (Contains the photo of Dad’s factory in Gt. Eastern Street).

The Day War Ended, Voices and Memories from 1945, Published by Weidenfield and Nicholson. (Contains Ron’s photo and story about VE Day as seen from a field near Venice)

Victory in Europe, D-Day to the fall of Berlin, by Karen Farrington (Contains a story about Sgt.Jack Goldstein and his final flight over Nuremberg, also Ron’s story of a British POW camp in Austria)

So, all in all, I reckon I’ve had my 15 minutes of fame but no one has ever asked me for my autograph !

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