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My grandfather – a rather special doctor


Long live democracy
John Julius Norwich Writer
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I remember one marvellous moment in Strasbourg, it was just after the Greek colonels had taken over Greece, remember, there'd be a coup where the military had taken over, and we had a meeting in Strasbourg at which we had to decide whether we were going to now kick out the Greek delegation since it no longer represented a free... freely elected government. And Gladwyn made just the sort of speech you would imagine about how the Greeks had invented democracy and now they'd betrayed democracy and certainly the Greek delegation should be expelled until such time as the good and free and noble Greek people had once again elected a free, you know, you can hear it all. And he sat down to polite applause and I couldn't resist murmuring into his ear, 'Gladwyn, you do realise that you and I are the only two people in this assembly for whom not one vote has ever been cast, I think we ought to keep a very, very low profile or we'll be out on our ear like our Greek brethren.' He couldn't understand it.

John Julius Norwich (1929-2018) was an English popular historian, travel writer and television personality. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, at Eton, at the University of Strasbourg and on the lower deck of the Royal Navy before taking a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford. He then spent twelve years in H.M. Foreign Service, with posts at the Embassies in Belgrade and Beirut and at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. In 1964 he resigned to become a writer. He is the author of histories of Norman Sicily, the Republic of Venice, the Byzantine Empire and, most recently, 'The Popes: A History'. He also wrote on architecture, music and the history plays of Shakespeare, and presented some thirty historical documentaries on BBC Television.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Greece

Duration: 1 minute, 23 seconds

Date story recorded: 2017

Date story went live: 03 October 2018