I shall say this only once

I THOUGHT I was going to Cannes. I imagined I'd be swanning around with other celebrities, strolling on the Corniche, drinking in the haunts of generations of movie stars.

I THOUGHT I was going to Cannes.

I imagined I'd be swanning around with other celebrities, strolling on the Corniche, drinking in the haunts of generations of movie stars. I was wrong.

In fact I had misheard and went to Caen instead with a bunch of journalists to write a travel article about the area.

In some ways it was a bit of a personal odyssey.

My grandfather George on my mother's side had been at the D-Day landings and fought in the ferocious battle of Normandy of which Caen is the regional capital. His regiment the 11th Hussars, he would often tell us, were always at the front. As light armoured reconnaissance they were meant to be.

The beaches of Normandy are an evocative place. It was here the Allies, with overwhelming force, began the invasion of Europe that was to herald the end of the Third Reich.

Most Read

Britain of the 1940s called, and my grandfather and his generation answered.

I have since researched that George, a Desert Rat, arrived on Gold beach just a few days after the first landings. He spent weeks in the Norman countryside, known as the 'bocage', fighting hedgerow by hedgerow, field by field, village by village, and town by town as the allies gained a footing and began the liberation of Western Europe.

His war, which later saw him decorated for gallantry during action in Holland and witness Montgomery take the surrender of the German army on Luneburg Heath on May 4 1945, was fought at much the same age as I am today.

It is a humbling thought and surveying the beaches of France where our freedoms were fought for in the most bloodiest of battles is a moving experience.

As I mentally imagined myself back to 1944 and what must have been a terrifying ordeal, I also spared a thought for the journalists that told the world the liberation of France had begun.

Today I think journalism in a war zone is far more dangerous than it has ever been. Indeed journalists themselves are often high profile targets in the modern theatres of war.

Back then, much as today, journalists were at the front line. They risked their lives to tell a story.

If George could risk his life in a cause I know he believed in, I hope I would do the same.

I'VE been yet again to the dental hygienist.

It's turning into a bit of a saga but, without going into too unpleasant details, I had a lot of scraping that needed to be done.

Karen, the lady with the steel implements, clearly enjoys my visits. Possibly because she gets to talk for half an hour about anything she likes while I'm completely at her mercy prostate in her chair.

“I think I'll need to see you once every two or three months James,” she announced during my last visit.

“Great” I replied, “Any chance of any novocaine? It's a pleasant alkaloid and I need a pick me up.”

I managed to utter this reply during a brief respite from the scrapey thing.

“Nice try James. No drugs today but you are doing well,” Karen replied.

“Thanks,” I replied with machismo, “I can handle pain.”

Whereupon dental nurse and assistant Maxine, who also enjoys talking and used to be a hairdresser and doesn't think much to Gordon Brown, piped up, somewhat sarcastically I felt, with the words “Yeah, brave soldier. Do you want me to make up a certificate?”

DECORATING my new compact pied-a-terre in the Edwardian resort of Felixstowe, is a never ending job.

I've only got five rooms and it's taking up all my energy. Nevertheless, I have made some progress.

I've bought some curtains after managing to annoy a lady in a Felixstowe curtain shop by being completely unable to make up my mind about what material to use and measuring the bay window in centimetres - a cardinal sin apparently.

I've finally managed to find someone who will carry an upright piano into a first floor flat - it's taken a lot of pleading.

After weeks of searching, I've got a plaster ceiling rose for the salon with sea views (distant).

But the more I get done, the more there seems to do. One job always seems to turn into three.

Can anyone recommend a piano tuner? Has anyone got a chandelier they don't want? Should I use a pole or a runner for a huge bay window?

It's only a flat. God knows how people do a whole house.

APPARENTLY Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe has “brutally honest” friends and family who kept him “grounded”.

The life of a celebrity isn't easy and I sympathize with young Daniel.

I often think its remarkable how I keep so grounded at all when I look at the strange people from the world of amateur theatre and East Anglian journalism I seem to surround myself with.

ISN'T it rich, don't you love farce?

The BBC was forced to apologise to the Queen for wrongly implying she had stormed out of a sitting with a photographer.

Scenes of the pair clashing, over a request to remove her tiara were followed by footage of the Queen walking down a corridor and telling her lady-in-waiting: “I'm not changing anything. I've had enough dressing like this, thank you very much.”

The BBC said: “In this trailer there is a sequence that implies that the Queen left a sitting prematurely. This was not the case and the actual sequence of events was mis-represented.”

Naughty BBC.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter