I then told the boys two stories of friendships on different ‘stages’! The first friendship was between two politicians and genuinely had a big impact on the world stage. The second was the story of a life- (well, character-) changing friendship in a West End musical.
A decade ago, on 3 October 2010, I was in Dresden to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the reunification of Germany. I went there with Lord Douglas Hurd, former UK Foreign Secretary in Margaret Thatcher’s government. We were there on behalf of the German British Forum, a body on which we both sat (Lord Hurd was Chairman at the time). This forum was dedicated to furthering trade and friendship between the two countries. The dinner in Dresden was held in celebration of German reunification but also specifically to honour two former politicians, Douglas Hurd (born in 1930), and Hans-Dietrich Genscher (1927-2016), the former Foreign Secretary for West Germany, whose friendship had played a critical role in this momentous moment in world history. At the end of the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher (UK Prime Minister) and Helmut Kohl (West German Chancellor), along with the Russians, French and Americans, were working to re-unify West and East Germany. However, it is alleged that Thatcher and Kohl found it hard to be in the same room. The friendship between Genscher and Hurd, and their skilled diplomacy, eventually broke through the stalemate and on 3 October 1990 West and East Germany were reunited to form the country we know today. Twenty years later, I was honoured to sit between these two men in Dresden while they talked of those days, and how their friendship got them through.