Kicked into Touch

Editor Peter Furtado introduces this month's magazine.

Some moments in the past are so embedded in popular consciousness that it seems impossible that there could be anything new to say about them. Notoriously, most people over the age of fifty can remember what they were doing when they heard the news of John F. Kennedy’s assassination; the same cohort (at least its British elements) usually has a vivid recall of the events of July 30th, 1966, when England last won the football World Cup.

But how many know the full story of that competition’s curtain-raiser, when traditional English bungling led to the FA losing the Cup and needing secretly to commission a replacement? That story, told by Martin Atherton on page 21, is a bizarre farce that seems to belong in a Claymation movie rather than in a history magazine, yet it paints a genuine picture of one aspect of mid-1960s society: a rather clumsy and amateurish officiousness that was regularly caricatured in the popular culture of the day.
Another much more professional but equally mythic event in British history is the evacuation of the British army from Dunkirk in May–June 1940. In all the ballyhoo surrounding the sixtieth anniversary, it was all-too-rarely recalled that this rescue involved more than 100,000 Frenchmen as well, most of whom returned to their homeland within forty-eight hours to continue their unequal fight with Hitler. This month, Rhiannon Looseley (page 32) delves into this forgotten episode of helping hands extended across the water.

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