Saturday, 13 October 2007

Paris Is Free, Hurrah

I've been keeping this piece of nonsense up my sleeve for the right time, like Wellington and the ground at Waterloo (no, not some second division team's pitch). And as this week for me at least is all about England and France - remember Waterloo, Agincourt, yes even Jeanne d'Arc (to any French readers we're especially proud of that one) - the time is now, especially as I need to post something to try to bury that bloody photo and we're a little short on the football front (bar Reidy getting a sick note for the Irish and the charm of the Palace website in expressing so eloquently the club's gratitude for Peter Taylor's efforts).

Actually when I think about it, while last Saturday was a triumph for Anglo-French relations, the signs of tension were already there. I've been thrown out of some of the usual places in my time, but I think it takes a certain style to be evicted from Lyon's Museum of the Resistance (think about it). They were shutting early and we were only half-way through, so we moved through the rest of the museum at a reasonable pace, only to encounter Monsieur le Jobsworth. He stood behind me and tried to hurry us along with arms outstretched. Now it's all about attitude and his was below par, so of course I developed an interest in each item along the way, the result being that our tango towards the exit was taking twice as long as before. The crunch came when I tried to take a detour to examine books in a closed souvenir shop. He called for security, even though by then it was just about over. I managed to stop myself shouting 'Vive la Resistance' as we exited left.

Back to the theme. As a certified pedant these things make me laugh. Years of editing to deadlines naturally makes you take umbrage at certain terms or use of language ('seems likely', 'still remains', 'existing clients' etc, never mind - with apologies to New York and Chicago, who must have to suffer them each day - Americanisms; in a recent TV interview a US woman said that she recently 'conversated' with someone). I even laugh at things like signs saying 'all shirts half price' (if all are priced thus ...).

There is probably some nature involved too; after all, there is an as yet unresolved argment between friends lasting more than 10 years over whether it is possible to have an 'all-day breakfast' (for what its worth, on balance I'm in the camp which says it is not). When some friends set up a site called all contributors were given a nickname. Mine was 'bollocksbollocks', as in the Platonic embodyment of the ideal, seemingly in recognition of a god-given ability to talk more bollocks than anyone else (I knew that philosophy degree was going to come in handy). Don't see it myself; the way I remember it even when I've been absolutely legless I was talking sense. But there you go.

Get to the point. This season's programme features an 'On This Day' page at the back. I don't know who writes this, but it's fast becoming the first item on the agenda for me. I'm just not sure if the humour is intended or if it's just my warped way of seeing things. My favourite to date is contained in the Sheff Wed programme:

'1944: Paris is liberated as the Germans surrender after four years of occupation. Led by General Philippe Leclerc, the French 2nd Armoured Division is the first Allied force to enter the city, and is greeted by loud cheers from Parisians'.

Now, I'm all for a little poetic licence, even for being rather tongue in cheek. But I'm prepared to hazzard a guess that the writer of this piece was not actually present at the time. And I'll wager that after four years of occupation - not to mention the small matter of the actual battle for Paris - there were more than a few 'loud cheers'. Sounds terribly English doesn't it? Those gay Parisians/Parisiennes delivering up a few hurrahs as the tanks rolled through.

For the record (see, the Battle For Paris, which was started by a resistance uprising, lasted some six days, with around 1,500 resistance fighters and civilians killed (German losses were estimated at 3,200 killed). The Allied commanders were not bothered about liberating Paris as they did not want to slow the broader advance on Germany, while the Free French under De Gaulle feared Hitler's instructions to raize the capital if it was lost would be acted on. In the event the French, fearful that the uprising would be quelled, broke ranks and Leclerc sent an advanced unit into Paris on 24 August, under Captain Dronne (General Leclerc followed the next day, as did De Gaulle). The German garrison surrendered on the 25th. There followed victory parades through Paris on 26 and 29 August (the latter a joint Franco-US affair).

So, in future programmes I look forward to our local historian's summary of the anniversary of the teaparty that was the Black Hole of Calcutta, the stroll in the park that was Stalingrad, and the game of football that was World War I.


Anonymous said...

If you're going to be this pernickety about language you really ought to learn how to spell properly: hazzard? raize?
Such pedantry will get its just desserts...

Blackheath Addicted said...

Sure will, that's what you get when you do these things with a glass in one hand and no spell check. Just checking on how many others there are out there.