Thursday, May 21, 2009


Today is a public holiday in the historically Catholic but formally laic republic of France. Why? Well, believe it or not, we're celebrating an archaic act of magic. At an unspecified date during the first century of the so-called Christian era, a man in flesh and blood named Jesus, who had been recently nailed to a cross until he was assumed to be lifeless, suddenly took off skywards, like a hot-air balloon.

I shall always remember the lovely image of my future wife, when we were innocent students (?) at the Cité universitaire in Paris, trying to communicate with an English friend who couldn't understand why the French nation went suddenly dead for a day, for no obvious reason, in the middle of May. Christine attempted to use her elementary English (which has improved a lot since then) to tell the fellow that France was celebrating a magnificent ascension that took place long ago, but the uncouth Pom simply couldn't understand what she was trying to say. So, Christine turned on her miming talents, and she fluttered her arms in a vain attempt to inform the English numbskull what the sacred aeronautical Ascension was all about. I've often imagined that, after Christine's convincing demonstration of a holy bird taking off from the gardens of the Collège Franco-Britannique in Paris, our English friend no doubt became an awed monk, and spent the rest of his life in a state of Christian sublimity, maybe in charge of the pope's private jet. I really must ask my friend Graeme Henderson, specialized in aeronautical history [display], to look into that question...

No comments:

Post a Comment