Get Me Out of Dear Old Blighty

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 12.57.31From 38 degrees C in Touraine, to 20 in Dorset, the English Summer once again lives down to direst expectations. However, it was masochistic British fun, reminiscent of schooldays and corporal punishment, to cycle this morning round the abandoned Tarrant Rushton airfield – with its concrete runways, perimeter road and hangars – in pelting rain and glacial winds. The airfield was used for glider operations in the Second World War, launching the famed Pegasus Bridge operation on the eve of D-Day. The pilots who left from here were the first to touch French soil on D-Day. The previous day we had left French soil via Brittany ferries, with machine-gun-toting soldiers patrolling Cherbourg and every passenger subjected to body searches and exhaustive luggage searches. Nazis, jihadists, migrants… still going strong, this fortress built by Nature for herself. 

Yesterday, a fête in Blandford Forum was washed out by rain, then the entire town forced indoors by a horrific stench of manure that suddenly wafted in like a Biblical plague from surrounding fields. We took refuge in Tesco’s. At the fish counter, we reached for two little bags of overpriced mussels only for the spotty white-hatted youth working there to stop us and point at the notice saying that service on this counter stopped at 7 pm, and it was now 7.02 pm. On a previous visit to the same fish stand, we asked for oysters and had to explain to the girl serving there what oysters were: this time, they had some – 10 miserable little molluscs arranged in two lines, 50p each. Ah, this royal throne of kings, this Brexit isle…

In the words of the great francophile Orson Welles, « Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.

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