Sunday, 18 November 2012

Invasion of Saint-Gengoux-le-National

The army march into town
The townsfolk had been nervous for the past week, as the army undertook manoeuvres in the hills above St-Gengoux. It all came to a head on Friday, when the army finally marched into town, right up to the town hall and they laid claim to the mediaeval city.

Well maybe it wasn’t quite like that.. Let’s start again.

Thursday evening I had a meeting in St-Gengoux with the Office de Tourism and noticed that there were “no parking” signs all over the square outside the town hall, reason given a “Military Ceremony” between 08.00 and 12.00 Friday morning. Whilst there had been a bunch of soldiers on manoeuvres up in the hills round St-Gengoux, no one seemed to be any the wiser about what was going on. Now what is a Military Ceremony when it’s at home anyway? Especially as we never see any soldiers in town - ever.

Nifty footwork
Well we had to go and find out for ourselves didn’t we?

We have learned, over the years, that everything around here starts late, so we went to St-Gengoux at 10.00 in the hope that we wouldn’t have to stand around in the freezing weather too long. Amazingly, there were actually some soldiers, we asked what was going on and we were told there was a military ceremony – ummm yes we can read too – so still none the wiser.

Gradually after being pushed from pillar to post by someone in an official looking uniform and watching the Mayor of St Gengoux being pushed from pillar to post by someone in an official looking uniform, all was revealed. It was the passing out parade for the latest recruits to the Base Petrolièrs Interarmée from Chalon-sur-Saône. Petrol lorry drivers to you and me.

The troop are inspected
I couldn’t get to grips with why they kept doing “attention, present arms, order arms, at ease, attention, present arms, order arms, at ease……” and so it went on ad infinitum. Their drill skills were poor to say the least and the fact that the Colonel of the unit could not even turn through 90 degrees without tangling up his feet did give the show a little bit of an amateur touch. However, when all these young lads and lasses received their official caps, there was a real look of pride on their faces and with one of the lasses in tears, I must admit I felt quite proud for them too.

They then went off to march round the ancient streets, to show off their newly won caps and return to the Town Hall, no doubt for a glass of wine. But by then our feet were so cold we decided to abort mission before frost bite set in and we left them to it.

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