Tales from France
Chairman Ian Wilkinson opened the meeting of Seahouses Probus and announced the death of honorary member Edward McKenzie, for whom we stood in tribute for a minute’s silence.
Secretary Fraser Suffield told us that all was well administratively and that the next Probus Quiz will be at Alnwick Cricket Club on October 7, at 10.30am.
We voted in favour of investigating the possibilities of taking occasional bus trips.
We were then informed by treasurer Forbes Grant that all was well, and our chairman introduced ex-chairman Brian Crawford, who was to give us a talk entitled France in 1946.
Brian told us how he had gone to France to meet up with his pen-pal, Georges. This was much more of an adventure than at first perceived because Brian was to go from Darlington to Macon, North of Lyon, on his own. He was 11 years old, spoke almost no French and had his overseas allowance of £25 sewn into his clothing. He also had 12 new pennies that were “polished and sparkling like gold”.
He had to cross London from King’s Cross to Victoria, get to the cross-Channel ferry in Dover, and then disembark and find the train in Calais. Not only that, but he had to change trains in Paris.
We must remember that France had only been saved from the occupiers during the last year or so and things were not yet on an even keel. During his visit he witnessed the return of a local woman who had been the mistress of a German commandant and her retribution at the hands of the locals.
The holiday must have been a great success as Brian went back each year until he was 18.
His was a fascinating story, told with aplomb, enjoyed by the audience, and well deserving the fulsome thanks that were given by Roger Howell.