Tag Archives: Dunkirk

When Defeat Is Victory

7 May
Dunkirk Beach

Image via Wikipedia

I can think of two examples: Dunkirk, and Tory Boy’s first time on a ballot paper.

The two are not comparable, of course: I have nothing but admiration for the men at Dunkirk and those who spent days ferrying them to safety.  I once met a Dunkirk survivor.  He lived next door to my Nan, and took my teenage self in for a cup of tea because she was out when I arrived.  I spotted his certificate and he told me all about it.  I very much regret not keeping a notebook back then, because all I remember is the dim light in the flat and the certificate in the frame.

I admire my son, too.  He was asked to stand as a candidate where he lives, in Thursday’s council elections, knowing that he would not win.  He did stand; he didn’t win; he didn’t mind: it was his duty. 

He did rather better than might have been expected, though; of the three Conservative candidates, he polled the most votes:




Liberal Democrat 202 Not Elected
Labour 1131 Elected
Conservative 467 Not Elected
Conservative 407 Not Elected
Green 731 Not Elected
Labour 931 Elected
Liberal Democrat 130 Not Elected
Liberal Democrat 98 Not Elected
Labour 1085 Elected
Green 522 Not Elected
Green 419 Not Elected
Conservative 303 Not Elected

He laughed when I congratulated him.  It was an alphabet accident: of the three, his name came first on the ballot paper. 

Makes you despair of the electorate, doesn’t it?

Anyway, well done, Tory Boy: I’m so proud that you were willing to fall on your sword for the party.


27 May

I have two anniversaries coming up this month. On 30th June thelaughinghousewife will be one year old. Look forward to an exciting post: I’ll share my statistical analysis with you to celebrate.

That’s the last day of June; on the first day of June I will have been married to the Hub for twenty-five years. Look forward to a…umm…post: I’ll share my autopsy with you to celebrate.

Today, however, is a real anniversary: it is seventy years since the evacuation of Dunkirk began. I don’t know if this story is known anywhere except in Britain, so let me give you a brief summary:

In 1940, the Germans forced British and French troops back onto the beach at Dunkirk in France. British Navy ships couldn’t get in close enough to rescue them so Churchill sent out the call for everyone with a little boat on the coast of Britain to sail over the English Channel and help out; around 900 responded. In just over a week, almost 340,000 men were saved. We consider it a victory, despite losing all of our heavy equipment. Whenever Brits pull together in a crisis, we call it ‘Dunkirk spirit’.


Wikipedia has this interesting fact: The St George’s Cross

flown from the jack staff is known as the Dunkirk jack and is only flown by civilian ships and boats of all sizes that took part in the Dunkirk rescue operation in 1940. The only other ships permitted to fly this flag at the bow are those with an Admiral of the Fleet on board.

I was privileged to once meet a Dunkirk survivor. As a teenager, I went to visit my Nan and she was out. Her neighbour invited me in for a cup of tea while I waited for her to return; I spotted a framed certificate and he told me he got it because he was at Dunkirk, and proceeded to give a first-hand account. I was fascinated but this happened thirty years ago and I very much regret that I don’t remember anything of what he told me; I wish I had kept a notebook in those days.

Sky News is showing the flotilla of original Dunkirk rescue boats setting off for France this morning to commemorate the anniversary. Sky News is getting on my nerves at the moment. They need to sack the person in charge of the news ribbon at the bottom of the screen because their spelling is dredfu. I almost lost it yesterday when it came up with, ‘Should there be more academies?’ I started to write a snotty email to them saying, ‘Yes, there should; then you might be able to employ someone who can spell “acadamies” properly…’ and I realised that the Sky spelling was, in fact, correct. I have sworn the Hub to secrecy and after twenty-five years he knows better than to disobey me, so I think my error will remain unknown to the world. If it does get out, he better hope somewhere there’s a little boat waiting to take him to a safe harbour.

PostScript: You can read all about it here:


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