Today I had lunch with my father-in-law at the Fondation Universitaire (that’s him with the red beret on). Jacques Vandamme will celebrate his 89th birthday this autumn and is still going admirably strong. In a long, illustrious life, Jacques has lived through various episodes that I can only read about: the effects on his stockbroker father of the Great Crash (he was six); the Great Depression (he was in his teens); the Second World War (he was in the resistance and joined the British Army at the end); the first attempts at European integration (he was 27 when Schuman made his declaration); the Coal and Steel Community (he worked for the Belgian steel industry); the European Economic Community (as a Commission Head of Unit he helped launched the EU’s competition policy); the far-sighted and prescient 1975 Tindemans Report (Jacques was Tindemans’ chief advisor); and all that before he was fifty! I told Jacques about my Leefdaal discovery (see previous post) and asked him whether he had been at Leuven during the May 1940 bombardments. No, Jacques told me, but he was there as a law student during the 1944 bombardments. A devout man, Jacques told me that this was the most terrifying experience in his life. He and his fellow students had sheltered in the basement of their house as the bombs started to fall. ‘And I can tell you exactly how long the bombing lasted,’ he said, a wry smile on his face; ‘I had time to say two full rosaries…’ For people who have lived through such experiences European integration is not a question of ‘whether’ but ‘how’.