I went to a commemoration for the 25,000 French soldiers, mostly conscripts, killed in the Algerian War. No wars are good and that was worse than most with a total of some 300k casualties and dreadful brutality on both sides. 14 flags borne by ancient combatants were paraded; a service was held in the local church and I hoped my hordes Presbyterian minister ancestors were not spinning in their graves at my presence. Lots of maires were on display as well as the great and the good from the sapeurs/pompiers and the gendarmes. I now know sufficient of these guys to do some schmoozing. Mr Biggish Gendarme was a fan of single malt whisky and said ‘Bye bye. Have a nice day. Toodle-oo’ when we parted. The French do like making speeches and the microphone was handed round to anyone who wanted it. They also have some spectacularly miserable tunes to mourn the dead and tears were on the cheeks of some of the veterans.
An expert dropped by to advise on beautifying the village. The most interesting suggestion was to surround the grandson’s premises with a 6′ wooden fence. By coincidence the local gendarmes turned up to confer with the maire and they thought this was an excellent scheme, so it will happen. He will not be a happy bunny. Tant pis.

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