When you’ve got a problem you need to stand up and admit it. Well, I’m standing up and I have to admit that I have a problem. I can’t help it, I have seriously attempted to find help and have desperately tried to get professional assistance but to no avail. I fear that I am destined to suffer with this for ever. My problem? Are you sure that you really want to know?
It’s all to do with bad history. ‘I can’t let it lie‘. Know what I mean? If I hear someone talking nonsense or just plain waffling about history and I know it’s not true then I can’t help but get extremely wound up inside. Normally I just walk away or have an internal rant but occasionally I really can’t ‘let it lie‘.
During our visit to Normandy and the D-Day beaches I had another ‘episode’ I’m afraid. I’m not proud of myself and throw myself on the mercy of the court for my unacceptable behaviour but there really isn’t anything I can do. It’s an illness!
I’ll set the scene. We had just spent a fabulous couple of hours looking around the Juno Beach museum that detailed the magnificent heroism of the Canadian forces that were involved in the June 6th 1944 D-Day invasion. Fascinating. Moving. Almost unbelievable. And incredibly humbling to read about the bravery of so many young men who fought for freedom 75 years ago.
Just before we left the centre I waited in the reception area as Jo visited the ladies room. With visitors coming and going around me it was a hive of activity. A group of 6 US tourists stopped right behind me and began chatting about what they had seen and called over one of the Canadian staff to ask a few questions. Now I wasn’t ‘ear-wigging‘ specifically but I couldn’t help but overhear the whole discussion.
US Tourists: We don’t really understand, what is this place?
Canadian member of staff: What do you mean?
Tourists: Why is this museum here and what are all the Canadian and British references?
Staff: It’s about D-Day and specifically one of the beaches involved.
Tourists: There was only one beach.
Staff: No. There were five.
Tourists: No. We’ve seen the film, there was just the one. D-Day was Omaha Beach.
Staff: No. That was just one of them. There was also Gold, Sword, Utah and Juno.
Tourists: Are you sure?
Staff: Of course. This is Juno Beach where the British and Canadian forces were in action.
Tourists: British? Canadians?
Staff: Uh huh.
Tourists: But in the film ……
Staff: I presume you are talking about Saving Private Ryan, that was just about one beach.
Tourists: Well what d’ya know?
Now at this stage I was still okay, smiling inside and just wondering if people believed everything that they saw on film. I guess if Tom Hanks is in it then it must be true …….. What followed wiped my smile away.
Tourists: So was D-Day anything to do with Dunkirk?
Staff: No, Dunkirk was in the First World War.
Tourists: Ah, we thought so. It looked older in the movie.
Staff: I will just check though.
With that she turned and called over her supervisor, one of the managers of the visitor centre.
Staff: Dunkirk? World War One right?
Supervisor: Yes that’s right.
Tourists: Nothing major then really?
This was the moment my condition flared up. I just couldn’t help myself and turned to face the crowd of faces standing immediately behind me.
Me: Excuse me.
They all stopped and turned very surprised.
Me: I am so sorry for butting in and I really apologise for listening in to your conversation but I just have to say something. Dunkirk was not in World War One and it was a major event. In fact it was bigger than D-Day.
Staff: I don’t think you’re ……..
Me: This isn’t up for discussion. It’s a fact. Both Dunkirk and D-Day took place in the Second World War in 1940 and 1944 respectively. Oh and there were five beaches of which the British were involved in three, the Canadians in one and the Americans in two.
Supervisor: Are you sure that Dunkirk wasn’t ……..
Me: Yes. I’m sure. Dunkirk definitely WWII.
Tourists: So Omaha beach wasn’t the only …….
Me: No. Just one of them. Five involved. Five.
Supervisor: I’ll go and check …..
Me: No. For goodness sake.
Tourists: Oh but wasn’t Dunkirk just the British?
Me: Yes it was. We were the only ones fighting at the time.
Tourists: 1940 you say? But didn’t the war …….
Me: (very patiently) No. The war started in 1939 and you joined it in December 1941.
Tourists: But D-Day was much bigger wasn’t it?
Me: (not so patiently) No. Dunkirk involved twice the number of troops as D-Day. 150,000 men invaded France but 340,000 men were evacuated from Dunkirk. Bigger. Much bigger.
Supervisor: So definitely not world war one?
Staff: Are you sure?
Me: (patience almost completely exhausted) Yes I’m sure. These are facts. This is history. I’m not making this up.
At this point Jo quietly grabbed my arm and steered me out of the Visitors Centre smiling and saying goodbye. The staff member and her ‘supervisor’ disappeared suddenly but the American tourists followed us outside and across the forecourt.
Tourists: How do you know all of this?
Me: (through slightly gritted teeth) It’s history.
Tourists: Thank you so much for helping us out buddy. We need to get up to Omaha Beach now for the D-Day stuff …..
I’m working on my ‘condition’ and watching as many Hollywood films as I can as part of the therapy.