Call me The Baron. My full name is Nicholas Arthur Armbrister. I bloody hate that name! Do you know how I feel? My first name used when I’m naughty. “Nicholas, you’ve had a new tattoo!”
You must be part German with a name like that. Say it slowly out loud:
They got images of Hitler’s panzers and Blitzkreig, Stukas and goose steps. No denying my heritage, I’m part German, on my dad’s side. Armbrister.
He was in the British Army in World War 2, a Tommie. None of his mates guessed he was part German. Doing his bit for King and Country. His name is Arthur. The middle name I don’t tell anyone. Even today, I’m unsure why? Makes me eccentric – Nicholas Arthur Atmbrister – The Baron!
My dad is my best mate. His stories of seeing Manchester in flames, December 1940, when he was in his dad’s car going from Ashton to Oldham, fascinated me. When he was conscripted, I knew he was no German. He saw his army mates die and became a man. How can I compare? Arthur, the name I never use. Known only to me and my family.
Some things are hidden, for hidden reasons. Others are an open book, for me to decide. What would you think if I told you my middle name is Arthur? After my dad. He saw Nazi bombers high over Coppice. A silver speck against the blue. Our gunfire missed by miles. If these same planes had bombed my dad, I’d never be born or called Arthur.
He told me how he collected warm bomb shrapnel, when the Germans did bomb. Memories of an old man, passed down to me. When I’m in Manchester tonight with her, I’ll think, What is it like to see a city burn at night while under enemy air attack?