In related attacks in the Ile-de-France region, a further 5 were killed and 11 injured.
Now we have learnt of the awful carnage in Paris on Friday the 13th – a black day indeed – and thoughts come to mind again of our ties across the Channel.
Fakenham’s French connections are exemplified for me through its long twinning associations with Olivet on the River Loiret, a link which stretches back more than thirty years. Many of us have travelled to this charming community and hosted return visits here. Fakenham has also regularly honoured the death of a Free French airman for the past twenty years with a special ceremony at his graveside in the Queens Road cemetery. Lt Gabriel de Gramonte was on exercise near RAF West Raynham during the war when his plane crashed. I was proud that our town council was moved to get in touch with the mayor of Olivet following the Charlie Hebdo tragedy to express its commiserations and solidarity.
After ‘Black Friday’ I visited a close French friend here to show what I could only describe as my ‘entente cordiale’. Claudie and her late husband Don hosted me for a couple of weeks when I first started teaching at the Grammar School in 1979. It was to be the beginning of an enduring friendship. She assured me that her daughter Clare - a former pupil of Fakenham Grammar school – and her Paris-based family, were safe and sound. We then talked through the shocking events that had unfolded so recently and tried to make some sense of it all. As a leading member of the twinning committee, Claudie said she would take steps to contact Olivet again with words of sympathy and compassion. When you feel so helpless in these situations, even something as modest as this can be worthwhile.
I’m not sure where the term derives from but fly-posting has become a bit of an issue hereabouts. It seems that wherever there are railings, someone will decide to attach a banner advertising a forthcoming event. Or, in the case of local schools, to let us all know that in terms of Ofsted inspections they are ‘moving towards outstanding’.
Other tagging points which catch the eye of those wishing to flag up their bingo session, choral concert or whatever are upright posts or protective shields around trees in the town centre. Roundabouts have also been targeted. The downside for me is how well these postings are monitored. And their quality. As a councillor was prompted to remark earlier this month, there are so many flapping about that the whole town begins to look scruffy and untidy. It must be said that a lot of the banners are well made and neatly displayed. Those that are not, really let the side down. Lots of posters seem to remain long after an event has happened. How irresponsible is that? Complaints about such things get directed to the county council which periodically swoops on certain towns – it happened here in recent weeks – removing posters and banners and suchlike en masse. It would be handy to know about the legality of fly-posting, a direction which is currently being explored by the town council. I certainly wouldn’t wish to stop the broadcasting of community events here but would applaud some sort of regulation to keep the troops in order.