I spent the day at home, watching Ken Burns’s brilliant documentary on Vietnam – a war that feels part of my childhood

My birthday. At 61, increasingly a memento mori rather than cause of much celebration, though I did have a lovely dinner with friends at the weekend. But even then I was just as aware of those who weren’t – and never would again be – there as those who could make it. Rather than go out on the day itself, I chose to remain at home and treat myself to several episodes of Ken Burns’s remarkable documentary on the Vietnam war. Quite why this series has not had bigger plaudits and been given a more primetime billing is beyond me. Some of the footage, such as Ho Chi Minh in Moscow during the 1930s, is just sensational. As are the interviews from survivors on both sides. I guess that to many people it is now just a forgotten American sideshow from 50 years ago, but to me it feels part of my childhood as I can still remember the news bulletins being dominated by horrific images of the war in the late 60s and the early 70s. Having got to bed by about 11, I was woken up by my phone ringing. It was my son. “Just how asleep are you, Dad?” he asked. Not as much as I had been. Or wanted to be.

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