Frogs, Pineapples & The Dunkirk Spirit – Week 29 : 2017

July 23, 2017

If you can appreciate the pressure that Chris Froome is under on his bicycle, in the most difficult bike race in the world, then it humbled me to see him interviewed after a Stage. He must have been weary, he’d been attacked by hostile competitors for 5 hours and then had to help some insistent journalist get a story; he’s class personified. His fourth Tour victory has been well earned not least when those classy French spectators boo’ed him in Marseilles in the stadium during the TT. He’s ‘badged’ as a Brit but really he’s a Kenyan. We’re lucky to have him on loan.

Food Banks are a sad phenomena but it would be even sadder without them if people need them. I fail to read the Tesco notice advising what not to donate as well as what they want and tip toe up to the box hoping I have it right. It did make me smile that these recipients maybe don’t have too many demands but are sadly getting healthier despite no ambition. No one puts anything in the box that isn’t nutritious, sensible or worthy! Even I selected the pineapple fruit chunks in juice rather than syrup!

Last weekend saw a trip to Trent Bridge, Nottingham for a day of cricket. The weather forecast had advised on the morning of the day we were attending that there would be heavy rain at 11am through until 1pm. So we set off later to avoid sitting in it with no cricket being played. You’ll possibly not be surprised to learn that not a ball was lost through rain and we missed four South African and two English wickets! Unfortunately there were a lot more English wickets during the rest of the day and rain would have been welcome to delay our heavy defeat.

On the horizon is one of my rare trips to the cinema. Dunkirk portrays the events of June 1940 when, over several days, nearly 340,000 men were evacuated off the French coast in 800 boats of various shapes, sizes and seaworthiness. It was not a victory but spawned ‘Dunkirk spirit’ as a phrase and summarised what many of us would hope shows the resolve and adventure of the British spirit in the face of murderous adversity. In times of continuing tragedy then we receive these events, on the surface at least, with outrage, exaggeration, bewilderment, needing a political party, organisation or person to blame and often analysis that borders on virtue signalling or smug cynicism. Imagine in 2017 approaching pleasure craft owners i.e. civilians, often in their retirement, and asking them to sail 20 miles over open sea with the scant cover from the RAF and Royal Navy whilst calamitous hell rains off the French coast from German artillery and the Luftwaffe. You do this for no money, compensation and maybe the risk of losing your life and boat. Remarkable.

Today, as the boats sailed, we’d have journalists investigating the appalling circumstances that led to the need for this activity, the absence of any British plan to cope with the humiliating retreat, the British absence of an evacuation plan, the absence of a health and safety assessment, the absence of a plan of what to do immediately with 340,000 returning soldiers. At the same time as social media explodes with hate and anguish then we’d  probably have something like a Court Injunction to stop any movement until we have further actions or information clarified and agreed. Delightfully on prime time as the TV and radio channels fight for audience share we’d have interviews with Nazi experts agreeing with the enormity of the project and probably an ensuing debate on whether surrender would be the better option.

I don’t want to brush all our current tribulations under the carpet but when you put much of today’s challenges against history then are we who we think we are?

Lastly, there was a little merriment as my sister was selected by her grandson to read him a bedtime story. The pleasure was that we were not selected. Less merriment was had when said grandson appeared downstairs without his grandmother. He had survived the bedtime story but she hadn’t and was now nicely in the Land of Nod!

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