My War

All quiet on the Normandy Front.


This is a quiet village that manages a church, with clock and bells, a Mairie with a function room; which has been used twice in the three months I have been here (neither time revealing evidence of broken bottles or casual vomit), and a minor road that runs directly past my door, but knows nothing of rush hours and queues. There are always cars, vans, HGV’s interspersed with large tractors towing massive trailers of hay or muck. It’s the nature of the French countryside for farms to be dispersed parcels of land requiring constant movement between them. I suspect that this is due to the French inheritance laws which give property right to all the offspring of the deceased landholder. This may be egalitarian but, like much else in France, it is inefficient and inconvenient – quaint!

For these past six days, there have been few cars and “sans license” microcars (think posh tuk-tuk) passing my door. Even the HGVs and tractors seem less numerous. This is my war. A quiet war. A sadly pathetic war of isolation. I fight by staying at home. It is a worthwhile fight, but hardly heroic. This land of Normandy has seen bloodier.

My father fought his war navigating a ‘plane that took off and landed on the swaying decks of an aircraft carrier. From time to time he dropped bombs and torpedos on the ships and homes of the enemy. His open bi-plane (seriously) attacked the battleship Tirpitz in its Norwegian fjord. Flying steadily into the ack-ack so that he could aim, release and then photograph the consequences.

An uncle scaled cliffs at night, slitting the throats of Nazi guards to keep the peace before the real attack began. Another was captured and held prisoner deliberately shot in the legs after a failed escape attempt.

My grandfathers fought in the trenches alongside their pals; those who remained. When returning home on leave having to strip naked in their back yard to be disinfected by wives or mums, before being allowed into the home they were fighting for. Their uniforms remaining outside to be boiled in the copper to cook the lice.

They, more or less reluctantly, returned to normality and rationing. They got on with lives, not always well, but without option.

I sit in my heated home, plan my weekly shop; my excursion into the land of the enemy; tidy my garden; “work” on my computer; watch my tv; eat proper meals with beer or wine. This is my war! I hope to survive it. I hope to avoid contact with the enemy. I want to catch nothing and, in particular, kill no one!

This is my war, I hope I don’t suffer from PTSD after weeks behind my wall of toilet rolls.