A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings
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Is Knocked Down By
August 22nd 1931
Earlier this year, the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – the second largest political party in Germany – moved into new offices at Briennerstrasse 45, near Königsplatz. As he approaches his forty-third birthday, its leader, Adolf Hitler, is enjoying success as a best-selling author: Mein Kampf has already sold 50,000 copies. He now has all the trapping of wealth and power: chauffeur, aides, bodyguards, a nine-room apartment at no. 16 Prinzregentenplatz. His stature grows with each passing day. When strangers spot him in the street or in a café, they often accost his for an autograph.
His new-found sense of self-confidence has made him less sheepish around women. A pretty nineteen-year-old shop assistant named Eva Braun has caught his eye; she works in the shop owned by his personal photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann. He has even begun dating her. Walking along Ludwigstrasse on this bright, sunny day in Munich, what can possibly go wrong?
A few hundred yards away, young John Scott-Ellis is taking his new car for a spin. He failed to distinguish himself as a pupil at Eton College. ‘I had advantages in that I wasn’t stupid and was quite good at most games,’ he remembers, ‘yet I squandered all this because of an ingrained laziness or lack of will … I was a mess … I cheated and felt no remorse and when threatened with the sack – “You have come to the end of your tether,” is what Dr Alington once greeted me with – I always managed to put on a tearful act and wriggle out.’
He has emerged with few achievements to his name. A letter from his father to his mother, written in John’s second year at Eton; reads:
I enclose John’s reports. As you will see they are uniformly deplorable from beginning to end … I’m afraid he seems to have all his father’s failings and none of his very few virtues.
Of course we may have overrated him and he is really only a rather stupid and untidy boy but it may be he is upset by the beginning of the age of puberty. But I must say the lack of ambition and general wooliness of character is profoundly disappointing.
Try and shake the little brute up.
After leaving Eton last year, John went to stay on one of his family’s farms in Kenya (they own many farms there, as well as a hundred acres of central London between Oxford Street and the Marylebone Road, 8,000-odd acres in Ayrshire, the island of Shona and a fair bit of North America too).
It was then decided that he should spend some time in Germany in order to learn a language. In 1931m aged eighteen, he has come to Munich to stay with a family called Pappenheim. He has been in the city for barely a week before he decides to buy himself a small car. He plumps for a red Fiat, which his friends (‘very rudely’)refer to as ‘the Commercial Traveller’. On his first day behind the wheel, he invites Haupt. Pappenheim, a genial sixty-year-old, to join him. Thus, he hopes to find his way around Munich, and to avoid any traffic misdemeanors.
They set off. John drives safely up the Luiutpoldstrasse, past the Siegestor. The Fiat is handling well. The test run is a breeze. On this bright, sunny day in Munich, what can possibly go wrong?
While Adolf Hitler is striding along the pavement, John is driving his Fiat up Ludwigstrasse. He takes a right turn into Briennerstrasse. Crossing the road, Hitler fails to look left. There is a sudden crash.
Copyright © 2011 by Craig Brown
How did Marilyn Monroe come to meet Nikita Krushchev at the Beverly Hills Hotel? Why did Jackie Kennedy stop inviting Andy Warhol to her Christmas parties? And what exactly did T.S. Eliot have to say to Groucho Marx over dinner in London? These encounters actually happened—and the results were often as poignant as they were hilarious and bizarre.
From Craig Brown, one of Britain’s finest comic writers, comes Hello Goodbye Hello, a delightful collection that recounts 101 unlikely and fascinating encounters between the rich and famous. Brown not only tells about how each meeting came about, but also offers his own commentary on the dynamics that characterized it. Whether examining Sigmund Freud’s reconsiderations of Surrealism after being shown a painting by Salvador Dalí; the Duchess of Windsor remarking on the intensity of Adolf Hitler’s eyes during a 1937 encounter; H.G. Wells referring to Josef Stalin as “candid, fair and honest” after a 1934 meeting at the Kremlin; or Andy Warhol talking about drug rehabilitation with Nancy Reagan at the White House, his observations are spot-on.
Hello Goodbye Hello is a witty, original exploration that shows how truth is often stranger than fiction.
Hardcover Book : 384 pages
Publisher: Simon And Schuster, Inc. ( August 07, 2012 )
Item #: 13-633715
Product Dimensions: 6.125 x 9.25 x 0.96inches
Product Weight: 20.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)