As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy (6 June 1944), I’ve been reflecting on my visit to the region in 2012 and the continuing legacy of that fateful day. It was indeed an eerie experience walking on ground where thousands of soldiers had given their lives.
Gold Beach, near Arromanches-les-Bains, was one of the British landing zones. These days it seems to be a popular recreational beach, however reminders of its wartime role are ever-present. Remnants of the Mulberry Harbour built by the British to offload matériel lie scattered around Gold Beach.
Omaha Beach, to the west, was one of the American landing zones. The terrain is steeper and more rugged, and it’s not hard to imagine how difficult it must’ve been for US forces landing here under enemy fire.
Cimetière américain de Colleville-sur-Mer (Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial) looks over the beach and is a sombre reminder of the costs of war.
The photos above are also on my Flickr photostream.
During my travels aboard RATP trains (Métro/RER) in Paris recently, I spotted the quaint notice below aboard a few of the trains. Somehow, I have a feeling that the poetry (and meaning) may be lost on the target audience… (And yes, the walls of the 1970s-designed MI 79 rolling stock are actually orange.)
Les chewing-gums sont de grands romantiques,
Ces coeurs d’artichauts s’attachment très vite.
Mais les pauvres, rarement aimés en retour,
Cherchent désespérément le grand amour
Alors que la promesse d’un amour fusionnel
Est là dans tous les couloirs: c’est la poubelle!
Chewing gums are great romantics,
These fickle lovers attach themselves very quickly.
But the poor things, rarely loved in return,
They search desperately for true love
Yet the promise of a love that binds
Is there in all the passageways: it’s in the bin!
I recently received a parcel from France, delivered via La Poste (République Française). Rather than your usual generic plain text postage label à la Australia Post, this La Poste timbre de distributeur had a base design featuring paper planes. Génial!
La Poste postage label / Timbre de distributeur par La Poste
The hospital I work at has an arrangement with the New Caledonian private health fund Caisse de Compensation des Prestations Familiales des Accident du Travail et de Prévoyance Familiales des Travailleurs de la Nouvelle-Caledonie et Dépendances (CAFAT), which means that we regularly have French-speaking patients under our care – many of whom have little command of English.
Recently, I needed to check whether one of our CAFAT patients had any more of her own supply of gabapentin. Having established that she didn’t understand any English, I was forced to deploy my very rudimentary French…
Me: Bonjour madame, je suis le pharmacien… Avez-vous plus de la gabapentine?
Pt: Looks at me blankly. Pharmacien?
Me: Oui. Avez-vous plus de la gabapentine?
Pt: Matin et soir… « unintelligible »
I try a different tack and show her the tablets remaining in her medication drawer.
Me: Voici deux comprimés de la gabapentine. Avez-vous plus?
Pt: Un le matin… « unintelligible »
Me: Oui, mais avez-vous plus de comprimés? Plus?
Pt: « unintelligible »
At this point I give up…
Me: Ok, merci.
I later noted that the reason for admission was a central nervous system (CNS) lesion. At this point I realised that she probably had dysphasia secondary to the CNS lesion… so perhaps it wasn’t (just) my bad French!