Published: 24 January, 2013
by JOHN GULLIVER
IT’S not often I meet a “happy” man who looks by every twitch and twirl of his face that he is exactly that – a happy man.
And Mat Schwitzer is such a man, all 95 years of him.
And judging from an interview at his home in Highgate, obviously his view of life isn’t something that has come with age. He looks the kind of person who carries with him the same spirit of the inner man that he had as a child.
Mr Schwitzer is keen to share his view of life, or philosophy as he calls it, with members of the Highgate Society whom he will address next Wednesday with a talk titled: The celebration of philosophy.
Mr Schwitzer, born of a Jewish mother, cultured and a lover of books and the arts, and a father a Catholic farmer, no interest in life other than his farm, Mr Schwitzer fled from Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1939 to London.
His parents were supposed to follow but couldn’t escape the Nazi net – and perished.
His voice quivers a little as he mentions his parents whom he last saw more than 70 years ago. A chemical engineer he ended up as managing director of a US company based in Lancashire where he stayed until his retirement, with this followed by nine years as a UN consultant.
Married for 61 years, his wife Joan, who died three years ago, became a much-loved president of the Hornsey Historical Society.
Nearly 25 years ago, he formed a “philosophy” society – and every month its members meet to discuss philosophy with each other in their homes.
It’s still going strong – the meetings are something Mr Schwitzer, now not too nimble on his feet, still looks forward to.
He calls himself a Kantian, a believer in Kant’s theories, among others, that we should, as Aristotle advised, live by a moral code, and seek friends who behave in a moral way.
We talked in the living room of his double-fronted terraced home in Shepherds Hill, where the walls of his front room are lined with photographs and paintings, all kept in exactly the same place that Joan left them.