The Last Chance
Be warned: this post will progress from honour, to shame, to the unspeakable. I never promised you tasteful.
This article, 'Honouring the Brave', memorialises the final celebration of fourteen different nations' effort to defeat Hitler in the D-Day landings.
THEY came together for one last walk with old comrades and the ghosts of their brothers who stayed forever young.It was the first time the German chancellor was invited to the D-Day Landing ceremony, the men who survived are edging eighty now, and there will be no more large scale official ceremony in their honour in their, or our lifetimes.
They're smaller now these survivors of the Longest Day. Frail, stooped, white-haired and wide-girthed are the great liberators today. They hobble more than march, deep breaths puff out their cheeks and many need a stick, an arm or a chair to fight the ravages of time.
But they still have razor-sharp creases in the trousers and shoes they can see their lined faces in. Their barrel chests still fill with pride at the medals they bear. Medals which set them apart from us lesser men who will never be tested the same. They still attempt a ram-rod back, the chins still jut. They may be slower of foot than they were when they raced from their boats 60 years ago into ferocious German fire but there is still the same determined steel in their stride.
Age cannot wither these legendary veterans of Operation Overlord.
And as the survivors, now in their 80s and 90s, defied the heat of the French sun to officially walk together for the last time in front of the sands of Arromanches, they still looked like the callow young men who landed here to free the world from an awful tyranny.
I post the link not only to pay respect to the men who lost their friends, their family, their health and occasionally their peace of mind in the conflict. I post it also to point out to American readers the scale of heavily loaded references to Bush 'arriving late' - an obvious attack on American involvement in WW2.
[Context: Some time ago, I found myself on Anne's and Cyn's comments, having to explain the extent of anti-Americanism in Europe that stems not from Iraq, but is simply ever present and taken for granted at all levels. I felt real shock at the discovery that Americans weren't aware of this.
I mention this antipathy not to condone it, or to propagate it further - god knows, jingoism is execrable in any form - but because it dawned on me that American bloggers simply did not know about it, and were shocked when detected. Their shock, in turn shocked me.]
This sort of denigration is culturally unremarkable - so much so as to go unnoticed everyday in Europe, and nobody here has been 'invaded'. Essentially, any imperial power creates enemies - but it seems important to me that America lose it's feigned innocence about how the rest of the world perceives them. Nobody's happy with you guys. They never will be. You can't change that. Get over the shock.
Secondly, tomorrow in the UK is the first and last chance to see Venus cross the face of the Sun.
Nobody alive and in England this century will have had or will have again this opportunity. (The last occurrence ws 1882.)
At around half six tomorrow morning (earlier in the north, later in the south, according to the local rag), if you're outside, and you've not lost the art of making pinhole cameras, you can witness another ritual which won't be seen again in this generation. Try to see it with the naked eye, an' your eyes will be stuffed.
Edit: it's ok, I took the unspeakable references to poo out.
Best Blo'te of the Day So Far: Bandhag
"What if, contrary to the popular saying, you can take it with you?
How gutted would you be to get to the Other Side and find that even there you were priced out of the property market and that it was only the pious fuckers who'd sunk all their disposable income into ISAs and bonds instead of pissing it up the wall on booze, drugs and thousands of impulse-purchases that could afford the biggest, fluffiest, whitest clouds and the fanciest gold harps, while you had to share a flimsy Cirrus with your mates and fight over who used up the last of the manna?
Aetheism - you know it makes sense."