And now Indonesia. The unstoppable rise of the religion of a thousand tiny pieces continues unabated while populations rail against their ineffectual leaders. Armed forces depleted, the young indoctrinated against their parents values, the media appearing to conspire by down-playing certain events and the police not daring to reveal the ethnicity of their meagre haul of suspects, it’s little wonder that many are gloomily – or gleefully – predicting a Third World War. Once again Germany is the host in a deadly international tournament, with events taking place at various high-profile venues near you, although you may wish to avoid the ringside seats.
But hey, it will soon be spring and everything looks more optimistic as the days draw out and the buds start to open. Everywhere is fecund and young people everywhere take their lithe bodies away to meadows and bosky glades, dripping with heavenly promise. France, of course, is known for le romance, l’amour and ooh-la-la and just a stone’s throw from the foetid morass of ‘The Jungle’ the French countryside is as tempting an arena for a dalliance as any. Just such a place was the backdrop to one of Pierre’s favourite wartime anecdotes
Now an elderly French gentleman, Pierre still chuckles as he recalls the day’s events, back when he was a young boy. Walking along a country lane, the smell of blossom in his nostrils and new, green grass tickling his ankles, the buzz of crickets and the trills of many skylarks were suddenly intruded upon by the sounds of heavy breathing and low moans. He stopped and listened; he had heard such sounds from his parent’s room in the night and curiosity getting the better of him, he hit the ground and crawled slowly through the bottom of the hedgerow. On the other side a young couple were making love in farmer Gaston’s wild flower meadow.
Pierre watched, transfixed, as the pair abandoned their modesty and most of their clothes, gasping and panting and getting down to business. He watched as the dance played out and the young man rolled on top. Suddenly, the woman went still and stiff. Sacre bleu! Thought Pierre, She is dead! He panicked, crawled back through the bushes and ran all the way to the village where he hammered on the door of the local police station. Fat Jacques, the gendarme eventually answered the door, brushing baguette crumbs from his tunic and smelling of garlic and saucisson sec. He ruffled Pierre’s hair and asked what was wrong.
As Pierre told his tale the policeman laughed and said “Oh, mon petit Pierre, one day you weel know all about ze young love ...ze spring time, ze air, ze flowers. c'est magnifique!” But Pierre was not to be deterred. He carried on to the end of his tale “But ze woman... Monsieur, she is dead!” Jacques stopped laughing. “Mon dieu!” he cried “Get ze docteur!” and pulling on his tunic he gave instructions for Pierre and the doctor to meet them at Gaston’s meadow. Then he sped off down the lane to see for himself.
Looking cautiously over the field gate he could see, in the middle distance, a man’s buttocks moving rhythmically in the lurid sunlight. The woman beneath him was still as a corpse. Moving stealthily and breathing shallow despite the fire in his lungs – a small town copper gets little exercise – Gendarme Jacques slowly crept up until he was on the opposite side of the hedge, close to Pierre’s original vantage point. "Mais... Sacre bleu!! Eet is true. Ze woman, she is dead!" his thoughts screamed to be given voice. Suddenly he became aware of footsteps behind him as Pierre and the doctor arrived, both badly out of breath.
Truncheon raised, Jacque burst through the gate, grabbed the naked young man and pulled him off his immobile partner. The doctor rushed over to examine her. The young man was desperately trying to get into his trousers as Jacques struggled to find his handcuffs. Young Pierre watched then shouted to Jacques and pointed into the field. “Look!” The woman was on her feet, clutching her dress to hide her body, as the doctor packed up his medical bag and strode towards the group by the gate. “Well?” asked Jacques.
The doctor laughed "Come come Jacques, surely you are not so old to remember ze young love, ze spring time ze air ze flowers?” Jacques was not amused. “I saw what I saw. Zere was ze couple, just as young Pierre said, naked in ze field and ‘aving sex. But ze young woman, she was motionless. She was dead!” Young Pierre was trembling, looking at the woman as if he was witnessing an apparition. The doctor clapped an arm on the shoulders of Jacque and Pierre and ushered them from the field as the young couple gathered up what was left of their dignity. “Ah, mes amis, do not worry.” Said the doctor, “Ze woman, as you see she is not dead. She is just English."
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