So we spent the week in a giant tent (it was all very Crimson Field) in France opposite a cow field -which cheered up the children and husband no end and provided me with amusement.
The point was to soak up the atmosphere, history and sense of commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. We out-field tripped ourselves, and by the end of it I was struck by several things:
1. The French way of managing events is great. Why have a roadblock when you can just leave people to sort themselves out? This (in our experience the other week) works. So you want to have a picnic and watch a parachute drop from the slip road of a motorway? Sure.
2. D-Day is Northern France. I’ve tried over the years to get husband to understand that there must be more to France’s history than WW2 (and of course, there is), but for that week, in that place, there really wasn’t. I guess the feeling of being liberated from occupation is one that they can understand all too well, but I certainly can’t and that makes the experience unique.
3. Re-enactment is for winners. They throw themselves into Jeep and truck ownership in a big way, kitting themselves out in period (and not so period) costume and setting up camp. I want to join in. I’ve started saving up.
4. There is a fine line between commemoration and a big, slightly inaccurately dressed excuse for a party. This was the only unsettling feeling I had about the whole week really. Everyone seemed to be in the party spirit, those that liked dressing up in camp gear had a great opportunity to do so, and the drinks were in abundance. But. Then you catch sight of a veteran, French, American, English, and you realise that their day was very different 70 years ago. It’s at that point that the warm glass of cider in your hand is a bit too sickly sweet and perhaps you’ve misjudged the sense of occasion.