Erase history, erase the lesson…

France – June 10th 1944 

On a sunny Saturday in a rural farm village known as Oradour-sur-Glane 642 innocent people were massacred by the German 2nd Waffen SS Panzer division. They just turned up out of the blue that morning. Women and children were herded to the local church and then grenades were thrown through the windows. The men were split up and put in the many barns that surrounded the area. Those barns were set alight and any one trying to escape were immediately shot. The small peaceful village was then practically levelled by German grenades and fires. A harrowing tale of unnecessary violence toward fellow man. War has always been the same and the survivors were less than 10.

Instead of bulldozing the wreckage, it was decided that a new town be built very nearby and the current remains left as a reminder, as a monument of the harrowing destruction and loss of life war brings upon this world. And trust me, I know this because I have been there twice, and it’s poignant, quiet and sombre. You can feel the atmosphere among the silence. The still charred stone of buildings along the high street. A doctors car still left with it’s door open, rusted and sunken into the ground. The church, now without a roof or stained glass in the window frames. Bullet holes in the walls and many more plastered over a WW1 monument. The museum that straddles the monument puts everything into context, without it, maybe the place would be wrongly conceived as just a ruin, because new generations forget, but within those crumbled bricks and a growth covered tram line is the truth of what history really serves, a reminder and lesson of where humanity went once, and a hope that we can learn from it.

Oradour-sur-Glane, France: Remember. – Rick Steves' Travel Blog

Statues fall and so does the lesson…

Every now and then a moment in history moves many people toward a desire for change. As humans we should always be trying to better ourselves. Regimes fall and over time they are forgotten mostly, or at least their context is. Those people who died on that sunny Saturday are forever immortalised by the wreckage of their home which serves as a monument. If the French authorities were to tear down this monument, or if a mob of protesters looking for change suddenly invaded it, then there would be public outcry.

I see the news and what is going on right now. I can only think the same thing when I see these mobs tearing down statues, some of people who serve important moments in our history. There is no thought, just spray paint and tear it down. Of course some of these statues represent people and a time far gone. Slavery or even genocide, people who probably shouldn’t be paraded in public places, but removing that statue and that name entirely is erasing history. Erase the history and you erase the lesson and again we lose our humanity. 

Not for one moment should you think I agree with these statues and what they stand for morally once upon a time, I agree that they should stand as a reminder of where we were and where we are now. Like Oradour-sur-Glane in 1999 they opened that museum and gave everything some context, because people of that age were rapidly passing away, time takes away good people and memories of a certain time.

Put these statues in museums with some context beside them. People have lost reasoning because there is no context and they are desperate to see something done. Why is there a statue of this person? And more importantly why was it re homed to this particular exhibit.

You keep the history, you keep the lesson and eventually you reinstate humanity. I know what happened recently is terrible. And Black Lives Matter very much so, even more now than ever because racism needs to be stamped out and we can only do that via education and history. I’m 100% with everyone who’s feeds have become activist feeds recently, keep flying that flag, keep being proud to call bullshit on racism, but remember the history that got us here and view it in the context of modern day. This year alone has been the true test of humanity and we need it more than ever!

The Paris Rescue: The Willie Abrams Saga by C.J. Evans – Review

Action, adventure and history; a combination that makes for a good read and sequel…

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The story of Willie Abrams continues and this time he must face the place that haunts his war time past, peacetime France. We’re taken specifically to the city of Paris on a rescue mission first planted in the previous outing. This time around Abrams is accompanied by long time friend Banesfield and of course old flame Julie who’s father they are looking to save. They carry a dynamic and likeable chemistry that fits well into the the genre which has action, deception and twists.

From the Eiffel tower to the catacombs below this adventure spans the city where the trio team up with someone they first thought were adversaries making for a unique scenario where Julie wants her father returned safe. It becomes a sort of cat and mouse chase that is capped off with an action packed shoot out.

The Paris Rescue is a fun immersive read with a satisfying feel good resolve while also nodding to a potential sequel.

4 Stars 

‘The Door’ – a paranormal account

The events relayed in this account are true.

 

There have only been a handful of times in my life when something has happened that cannot be explained. Many of us have experienced the same; from the cliche odd bump in the night or the feeling of being watched to even something lurking in the corner of your eye. I’m a sceptic and even after this encounter and another after that, I still am. But to this day it still remains unexplained, so let me take you back to the summer of 2013…

Like the year previous I had joined my significant other and her family on the annual summer trip to the south of France; a beautiful place all year around; in the summer the weather is a hot as Spain and this is accompanied with the forest backdrop that could be England but way more rural.

Our road journey was around 10 hours plus and on this year my S.O and I were joined by some close friends. The accommodation and our home for two weeks would be on a former farm converted into ‘gite’s’ – barns which now serve as self catering holiday homes. Of course with our larger party we were in the 12 berth gite. Located on forest surrounded hills and farms, this place truly is picturesque and remote. All roads leading there are single track and you can even hear how quiet it is; bliss. This is without mentioning the stunning Jurassic Park like views.

gite

Our rooms were decided upon arrival and so myself and my S.O took the top left area. You can see from the pic above the window in which our bedroom was and this was the left hand wing of the gite. Up wooden stairs and a left hand turn into an alcove half way up would bring you to a narrow corridor which then faces another corridor leading left and right with a bathroom between a pair of rooms. If you were to go further up the stairs instead of turning left it would take you up to a living room area and then moving right would take you to the higher section of the gite and to more bedrooms on the right wing – this is where a pair of our friends took a room each. It is worth noting the stairs which were varnished wood had been installed by way of slotting into the wall; you would have to literally tip toe not to be heard and they made a distinctive ‘drumming’ when anyone walked on them.

After what was a long travelling day, we had eaten dinner and the general mood amongst our camp was good and fun; we were in the usual spirits of exchanging stories, jokes and generally messed around like we always did in each others company. We were on holiday and things were good.

Eventually it was bed time and so myself and my S.O went back to our room and began to unpack our stuff. At this time everyone else was probably doing the same or going to sleep and so silence ruled over the gite for the night.

Whilst I decided not to fully unpack I got myself into bed and as my S.O was considering joining me our bedroom door softly opened. The door was previously closed with a handle that requires pulling to open.

At that moment neither of us were startled and I thought about perhaps yelling an expletive at probably a prankster in the night. Instead I walked up to the door and behind it was nothing but the darkness. Now there was probably enough distance for whoever decided to play this prank to be easily discovered and still I didn’t see a soul in sight. Upon walking out and even getting to the stairs I expected the culprit to be huddling somewhere but there was nothing. Being one of rationale I shrugged my shoulders and returned to bed, this time locking the door.

The next day I quizzed those who I consider to be behind such activities to no avail. To this day nobody has admitted to opening that door. It’s worth mentioning on that night the window in our room was not open and as far as I can remember there was no strong winds or even a breeze outside.

My answer wouldn’t point towards the paranormal until the owner of the place mentioned in passing to one of our party about this particular gite being ‘haunted’; not a lot of sleep was lost as this was mentioned on our final day. The story even developed to be one of a little girl who can be seen around the extensive forest surrounded site.

Because there are so many variables, I spent some time being very sceptical on the matter. We had even returned the next year to the same place and nothing had happened for the whole duration of that trip.

Even though I was slightly wary that next year it wouldn’t be until 2017 when something else happened involving ‘The Stairs’...

 

 

Good news can always be found, somewhere.

Humanity had a bad weekend. It seems like bad events such as the one in Paris are becoming more and more frequent. Most of us won’t be able to do anything that could help a situation that unfolded but instead we find ways of processing and paying tribute.

There are no words that could possibly describe what those innocent people went through and there is no justification for those who inflicted such diabolical acts. Life will find a way of being the judge.

As humans we do the best to process. Many who use facebook took the opportunity to pay tributes by covering their profile picture with a French flag. Many others vented via tweets and statuses.

The downside of humanity is sometimes the action we take. However the upside is our reaction we have as people. In extreme situations of danger people commit heroic acts to keep sometimes complete strangers safe from harm. That itself should be celebrated, but that doesn’t bring back those who undeservedly lost their lives. Sometimes in order to process and think about what is going on in the world we look a little closer to home.

Turn it back on yourself for just a moment and you can realise compared to those people who faced shear terror on Friday your life isn’t that bad. That’s how I process stuff like this because there isn’t really any other way for me. Sure we can live in paranoia that we are going be next but that isn’t living. None of us should in fact live in fear, we should all have hope that things are going to be ok and that is what humanity is to me.

You may be in a shitty situation at work or home. Money may be your biggest worry or the car you drive may not make the next view miles down the road. This road is in fact long and winding. All of those things mentioned find ways of resolve but are in fact minor problems compared to others.

‘One day you are on top of the world and one day you are the clown’ says one of my favourite vocalists Chris Daughtry in a particular song called start of something good.

To me that means one day you will be ahead and one day you will be behind. Just be glad you are in the race because those people on Friday were taken before their time. What better way to pay a tribute than to go out and make something of your life.

Without sounding too preachy my life is exactly as Chris Daughtry sings that song. ‘Things might work out how they should’.

I take a closer look at myself and things are good. Very recently I started a new job across departments at work. This decision is turning out to be the best I have ever made in my life, but work for me wasn’t always great, neither was my car and money situation. What’s money I still ask?

There once was a time where I said I’m a writer and had no content to show for it. Right now I sit here typing with a brand new book ready to be edited and then hopefully self published next year. After finding an editor and someone who can help publicise it (he says).

Good news can always be found somewhere but if it can’t make some of your own. We as people are powerful beings, just the power of words can change society. Although there isn’t anything we can do to bring back those many good people who left us in Paris, we can sure dedicate ourselves to appreciating and making the most of what we have. That is our life and our humanity.

Not many of us will ever win anything big. I personally haven’t won anything particularly big but the little victories, there’s something I specialise in and savour. I’m surrounded by good friends and people who make this life better to be in.

Its been a difficult but very rewarding year for me. The seeds have already been planted to make 2016 blossom into something good. It’s never too late to grow your own good news.

 

robin quote