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This year at Verdun the French put on a very impressive commemoration, tasteful, meaningful.

If anyone wants to know what makes modern Europe tick, they could do worse than start by watching the 11.11 ceremonies.


11.11 is commemorated all over France. The day is a national vacation, even the tiny villages have a ceremony. The French remember not only their own terrifying involvement in wars, but that of others too, encouraging I hope you agree?

While very pro French culture the French are equally pro European brotherhood well understanding that in the end war does not solve problems, it robs and ruins lives.

I grew up in Kent and London immediately after World War 2 and well remember the cripples from World War one, thousands (21 million people were crippled in WW1alone), the faces of Holocaust survivors, the work done at East Grinstead pioneering skin grafts.

Today’s rich and beautiful owe more than most of them realise to the burnt Spitefire and Hurricane pilots, skin graft pioneers,  who were in part, in Winston Churchill’s words, “The Few”.

as if that was not enough for the day, later I had a long conversation about the origins of the Universe, the possibility verses the probability of God existing and how all that relates to us as individuals. Does life have any meaning?

This was rounded off with a congenial (late) lunch including a splendidly tasty, tender piece of steak then off to Itzac to continue painting.