In this week's New Statesman: The myth of the Fourth Reich

Why Germany has to save Europe | Books of the Year | Jemima Khan on Pakistan | Stuart Maconie on EMI


In this week's New Statesman cover story, historian Richard J Evans, author of The Third Reich trilogy, describes the "spectre of history" looming over Europe and Germany's role in the eurozone crisis -- but argues that this has less to do with Nazism than with the economic trauma of the 1920s.

Elsewhere, in the annual pre-Christmas Books of the Year, contributors and friends of the NS -- from A S Byatt and Marina Warner to Martha Nussbaum and Melvyn Bragg -- choose their favourite reads of 2011. Pick up a copy to see which Ed - Miliband or Balls - was gripped by the weepy bestseller, One Day.

In her first column as associate editor, Jemima Khan reports on her recent trip to Pakistan where US drone strikes have exacted a horrible civilian death toll. David Blanchflower shares his hunch that "a European bank secretly had to be rescued with the infusion of capital" at the end of August, and the NS Diary comes courtesy of Evgeny Lebedev, who discusses his father's Russian TV punch, free press and the Leveson inquiry, and his newborn son.

All this plus John Burnside's new Nature column, 6 Music DJ Stuart Maconie on the decline and fall of EMI, Rafael Behr on the backbench revolt facing Cameron, Laurie Penny on the tactics of the US pro-life lobby and a new poem by this year's Forward Prize for Best First Collection winner, Rachael Boast.

Alice Gribbin is a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was formerly the editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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For the first time in my life I have a sworn enemy – and I don’t even know her name

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

Last month, I made an enemy. I do not say this lightly, and I certainly don’t say it with pride, as a more aggressive male might. Throughout my life I have avoided confrontation with a scrupulousness that an unkind observer would call out-and-out cowardice. A waiter could bring the wrong order, cold and crawling with maggots, and in response to “How is everything?” I’d still manage a grin and a “lovely, thanks”.

On the Underground, I’m so wary of being a bad citizen that I often give up my seat to people who aren’t pregnant, aren’t significantly older than me, and in some cases are far better equipped to stand than I am. If there’s one thing I am not, it’s any sort of provocateur. And yet now this: a feud.

And I don’t even know my enemy’s name.

She was on a bike when I accidentally entered her life. I was pushing a buggy and I wandered – rashly, in her view – into her path. There’s little doubt that I was to blame: walking on the road while in charge of a minor is not something encouraged by the Highway Code. In my defence, it was a quiet, suburban street; the cyclist was the only vehicle of any kind; and I was half a street’s length away from physically colliding with her. It was the misjudgment of a sleep-deprived parent rather than an act of malice.

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

I was stung by what someone on The Apprentice might refer to as her negative feedback, and walked on with a redoubled sense of the parental inadequacy that is my default state even at the best of times.

A sad little incident, but a one-off, you would think. Only a week later, though, I was walking in a different part of town, this time without the toddler and engrossed in my phone. Again, I accept my culpability in crossing the road without paying due attention; again, I have to point out that it was only a “close shave” in the sense that meteorites are sometimes reported to have “narrowly missed crashing into the Earth” by 50,000 miles. It might have merited, at worst, a reproving ting of the bell. Instead came a familiar voice. “IT’S YOU AGAIN!” she yelled, wrathfully.

This time the shock brought a retort out of me, probably the harshest thing I have ever shouted at a stranger: “WHY ARE YOU SO UNPLEASANT?”

None of this is X-rated stuff, but it adds up to what I can only call a vendetta – something I never expected to pick up on the way to Waitrose. So I am writing this, as much as anything, in the spirit of rapprochement. I really believe that our third meeting, whenever it comes, can be a much happier affair. People can change. Who knows: maybe I’ll even be walking on the pavement

Mark Watson is a stand-up comedian and novelist. His most recent book, Crap at the Environment, follows his own efforts to halve his carbon footprint over one year.

This article first appeared in the 20 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood