I met Denis Poulot by the old lavoir as I ambled down to the Salle des Fetes. We’ve known each other for 24 years now; we’ve never been especially close but we share a relaxed camaraderie. We paused in our journeys to shake hands and exchange formalities, then carried on. Inevitably, this being Bastille Day, 14 July and we were both going to the ceremonial vin d’honneur, we chatted about Bastille Days past.
Denis drew up and looked into the distance. ‘It’s not the same any more.’
Molinot is a village deep in the Arriere Cote of Burgundy, has been a part of my life since 1993. In those days, the village was famous for the extravagance of its Bastille Day celebrations and people would come from miles away to enjoy them. Indeed, ours was so popular that many villages around had their celebrations on another day, since all the locals were at ours; and of course we reciprocated, making for a thoroughly convivial week.
I don’t know why it is that I have accumulated such a collection of ─ well, I suppose you might say ghost stories, though I tend to think of them in less definite terms myself. The fact is that I have never seen a ghost with my two eyes, and in fact I long ago gave up any hope of doing so. I must not be one of those gifted with the sight, as it were. However that may be, though, I seem to be a magnet for stories of the weird and the macabre, as if they seek me out─ and in the strangest of places.
The most recent addition to my collection was found in just such a casual way as all the others. I had been on holiday in France, when I was suddenly called back because of an illness─a very severe one─in the family. It happened that the nearest airport from which I could get a flight home was Lyon, so I made my reservation and got myself there as soon as I possibly could. Continue reading “The Horror of the Blocked-Up Window”
Yesterday, the 7th of May 2017, will be long remembered. It is the day of the Fall of France.
This is not the first Fall of France. In 1940, German troops stormed through the Ardennes, completely surprising the French General Staff.
Nobody who has read Chester Wilmot’s ‘The Struggle for Europe’ can fail to recognise the similarities. In 1940, the French Establishment was represented by octogenarian and even nonagenarian generals. Their incompetence was complete. Counter-attacks were so badly organised that battalions engaged on different days or in the wrong place. Communications were by carrier pigeon. The French armour, superior in numbers and quality to the German, was not allowed to operate freely and instead was used as semi-mobile artillery for infantry support.
The result was that France capitulated. That was the first Fall of France. An uneasy truce was declared, in which the Germans gave the French permission to govern themselves in territory not already under a German jackboot, but it didn’t last long; in 1942 the Germans assumed complete control.
Seventy-two years later, the second Fall of France has just occurred. Instead of dottering relics from bygone wars, fought decades before, today the French establishment is represented by a dandified fop called Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frederic Macron. This poodle sans couilles is now the President-elect of France.
I have begun wearing kilts again. I used to do this years ago but, erm, passage of time rendered them, uh, too small. Alack, the Fleming waistline now oscillates between 36 and 40 and those distant days of 32waist/32leg are long since departed. However, last year I bought a few more and now I wear them pretty much every day. And when I’m not wearing the kilt, I wear tartan trews.
Now what could possibly have spurred this aberrant behaviour? A sudden dose of ‘alt-fashion’ in the old fool’s noggin? A passionate longing for the owld country? Simple homesickness? Senility?
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