It was a luminous late August sunset, and we were in France, dining outdoors with some friends who have a magical, charming place in the countryside there. We were discussing audiobooks of the kind you could listen to on a long car journey and I mentioned how Julian, my partner, and I had enjoyed my Times colleague David Aaronovitch’s memoir of childhood and youth, Party Animals: My Family and Other Communists.
If you haven’t read it, do. David’s family were hardline members of the British Communist party. He was brought up to believe that ‘God Save the Queen’ was an anthem of imperialist oppression, and the revolution, hopefully peaceful, was perhaps just around the corner. The family holidayed in Bulgaria, had high hopes for the Soviet Union, and spent their leisure time in London at party meetings, distributing leaflets and banging the drum for the ideology in which they placed all their faith.