Someone once apparently commented, after Spain emerged into democracy from decades of conflict and oppression, that the price of its national unity was amnesia – a concerted and determined effort to forget or even ignore the past.
In Germany, the opposite appears to be the case, where the state has looked itself and its past in the face and decided that it can and will do better.
Here in Britain, there is much to be proud of in our recent past and the multiple memorable anniversaries and commemorations of defining moments in two world wars have brought that to the fore across the generations.
But there has also been a tendency for some to be mired in nostalgia rather than shaped by it in a way we can use constructively to fashion a new future.
You can’t, of course, know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve come from.
We can accept, in the words of writer LP Hartley, that “the past is another country; they do things differently there”.
It’s unrealistic to expect other eras to adhere to our current attitudes and outlook.
But creating a new way forward also means acknowledging that what was accepted and done differently in the past isn’t always deserving of unconsidered admiration now.
We live in times where rules, it appears, are made to be broken. Old certainties are gone and many refuse to tolerate any more what they see as embedded injustice.
That’s no excuse for defacing or tearing down monuments to the past. We are shaped by the worst of our history as well as the best.
Yet how many people actually know much about these parts of our shared story? Maybe we should use these physical manifestations of the past to learn more about ourselves and our place in the world, as part of a bigger picture into which we all fit somewhere.
It’s also important to realise that nothing stays the same. To everything there is a season; perhaps the season for these particular monuments and the names they commemorate has finally had its day.
And maybe in the 21st Century, we can find better ways of celebrating and honouring people than putting up statues or allowing immense wealth, however acquired, to talk quite as loudly in public life as it did? And, many would argue, still does.
So James Bond is going to be a dad? The ultimate Bond girl is five-year-old Mathilde, the offspring of 007 and his, to my mind, somewhat colourless squeeze from Spectre, Dr Madeleine Swann, who apparently makes her appearance in No Time to Die, Daniel Craig’s last outing in the role he has made his own.
Perhaps it’s a way to explain why Craig (in real life a recent, second-time father in his 50s) is looking increasingly craggy.
Like any new dad, he (and JB) will have had no time to die or to do much else for that matter, if any five-year-old worth her salt has anything to do with it.
Those who accuse the creators of this new scenario of being “woke” may well be right – he’ll be lucky to have snatched a wink of shut-eye in the last five years, let alone found the time to save the world.
Mind you, could there have been a few clues re potential paternity to be ferreted out from previous Bond titles? A View to a Spillage? Dr NO! Stop That Right Now!?
From Rusks with Love? Live and Let Dry? Thunderbawl? Thundercrawl? Quantum of Calpol? The Spy Who Burped Me? Daddies are Forever? Cry Another Day? Goldeneye Ointment? Enough already.
Perhaps he could ring up his old pals Oddjob and Rosa Klebb for a bit of babysitting or seek useful advice from Jaws about teething.
Q’s basically out of a job – an Aston Martin DB5 built out of Lego already exists – but he could perhaps help out his old mate by creating something that sweeps up the extra bits that lie about the floor and cause unsuspecting parental feet more agonising injuries than anything Blofeld’s henchmen could muster.
If we have seen the future of Bond – and it’s child-friendly – the only things liable to be shaken and stirred are gripe water or formula milk.
I can just see James up to his immaculately-tailored elbows in organic carrot puree, agonising over whether his little cherub should be vaccinated. When M becomes MMR you know you’re in a different universe indeed.
Swapping Pussy Galore for Peppa Pig will no doubt be an education and it’s probably going to be a bit difficult to keep that legendary cool when he’s up to his Walther PPK in Sudocrem and sanitising wipes.
And how much of a dent is his macho cred going to take when his very own flesh and blood is old enough to decide that Papa is well passe in the face of such competition as Dora the Explorer, Dangermouse or that young upstart Alex Ryder?
And, of course, with Super Spy Barbie as a role model and all the father-daughter – well, bonding, that’s bound to go on – it’s surely only a matter of time before we hear: “The name’s Bond. Mathilde Bond…”
Ms Bond, we’ve been expecting you.