Sunday, 13 July 2008

Liberation, or not

Tomorrow, it is the 14th July and is Bastille/Liberation Day in France, a national holiday. The liberation of the Bastille was in 1789 when the Parisian crowds gathered outside of the cities prison (and arms store) and stormed the gates (after the gates were opened for them by the defenders). They released all of seven prisoners, several of whom had been placed there by their families for their own protection and one of whom was a mad Englishman. He is the one with the long beard seen in all the etchings of the time being carried around the streets above the heads of the masses. The next day they realized that he was mad and placed him under lock and key again. Mention this the a French person and the don't seem to be aware of it.

Just like the English when it comes to invasions. We haven't been invaded since 1066 comes the cry (from those who also talk enthusiastically about the 1966 World Cup and the Second World War) but this again is not quite correct. There have been several invasions since but mention these to your average English person and they have no idea what you are talking about. Liberation day in France is now celebrated by the French making lots of noise, eating loads of food and drinking to much wine and a local firework display. Fortunately they don't tend to carry English people around the streets any more even though they think we're all mad. But enough of revisionist history.

I have volunteered my services as a 'Friend' of the Shackerstone Family Festival on the 6th and 7th September in a vague attempt to get some free tickets. Its the only festival I get to go to in England during the summer as I am away for most of it. It's also our local festival on the Ashby canal and it happens just after I get back from France. A good selection of ex-working boats attend every year and the usual festival activities take place but there's no folk music that I'm aware of although there's a beer tent and that'll do for me. As a 'Friend' I suppose that I'm expected to take part in the preparation for the festival and with a bit of luck I'll get to wear one of those luminous waistcoats that make you look so important at these things. We'll probably arrive in good time, probably Saturday 30th, and moor up somewhere beside the festival field if the boat still works and Lisa hasn't done any lasting damage to it.

My holiday is over. It is no more. Today I am collecting Lisa from the airport.

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