Travels

Dunkirk revisited

Friday 3 May 2019

The day in reverse. I didn’t feel I did the Bray-Dunes wrecks justice yesterday – it was the tail-end of a long and active day – so I revisited at low tide this evening.

I had the beach to myself as the sunset over Dunkirk. I reached the Devonia first and was surprised how it had retained its profile.

Devonia was paddle steamer. It came under air attack and, after an explosion caused serious leaks astern, the commanding officer was instructed to beach the vessel as far inshore as possible in the hope that she could be used as a jetty and boarding point by the troops.

The MV Crested Eagle

was a wooden paddle steamer targeted by the Germans. Its fuel tanks caught fire and it sank with 300 soldiers on board, all of whom lost their lives. A BBC article personalised the tragedy, here.

Above the wrecks are the remains of German fortifications.

But it’s not all about the war.

Earlier, I’d cycled into Dunkirk again and visited a small and pleasant sculpture park, LAAC,

that had a range of pieces in its grounds. This made me think of Farage, I don’t know why.

Marching poppies.

And just because you can stack a pile of anchors, doesn’t mean you should. (Though it could be some reference to the ships lost during the evacuation.)

Art? Each to their own.

The gallery in the centre

had a small but good collection. (Yes, that is a guy meditating.) A couple of fun pieces – the car’s a Trabant, decorated to mark the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The staff were brilliant, really friendly and helpful.

At the start of my day I woke to the great news about the local elections. It put me in mind of the Dunkirk spirit when quiet and reasonable people stood up and manned the boats to save the country. It’s laughable that May and Corbyn are maintaining that the electorate are telling them to get on with Brexit! Numpties! (Conscious of my audience, just add your own level of abuse and expletives here – don’t hold back!)

It’s not a protest vote. Outside the main news feeds, unfiltered by media or spokespeople, you get an unalloyed version of people’s anger on Twitter. It is full of photos of Labour Party members’ cut up membership cards and resignation emails. Good on the Lib Dems and Greens, they have been consistent throughout the whole farce and they’re closer to representing my politics than any of the others, and not just about Brexit. Corbyn and Labour’s antisemitism easily matches the Tories Islamaphobia. It’s time for the reasonable centre to regain its voice – this part of the world bears the scars of what happens when politics fails to deal with extremes.

(Saturday – This post has been delayed as it took on some weird formatting, now hopefully sorted – fingers crossed. Hunkering down as very high winds rock the van in the alternating hail, rain and bright sunshine – won’t be going far today.)

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