Visiting Paris under German Occupation

Visiting Paris under German Occupation

Helena Whitbread writes:

If I am away from my desk for more than two days I become a little anxious and fretful – worried that my work is not progressing. Though I enjoy time out with friends, going for a meal, shopping, and spending time with my family, poet Andrew Marvell had it right: ‘… at my back I always hear Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.’ Indeed!

So what has lured me away from Anne Lister lately? Last Sunday evening, our local theatre, The Playhouse, screened the film The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister and I was invited to give a short talk beforehand about Anne’s life and then, afterwards, to repair to the bar where I would hold a Q & A session. We had an enthusiastic audience, with only one dissonant voice – a very tiny, white-haired old lady, who claimed a seat on the front row who, when asked had she enjoyed the film, shot out a very disgruntled “No!” Oh, dear! Otherwise, a very successful evening. People were interested in Anne and asked me many questions about her and my work on the journals.

On Wednesday I went for lunch to La Cachette – quite a sophisticated venue in this otherwise small, stony, Yorkshire town. My reason for the lunch was that I have met (via Twitter) a woman, a lecturer in French at Sheffield University – Dr Wendy Michallat, who is translating the journals of Madeleine Blaess, a woman who was in Paris during the German Occupation.  The picture below is from Wendy’s blog about her work on Madeleine Blaess’s journals.

Paris RooftopsThe view is as it would have been from Madeleine Blaess’s window in Paris in the winter of 1942. Madeleine is now on Twitter, telling it how it is in Paris in 1942….@MadeleineBlaess and Wendy’s blog can be read here: http://blaessproject.wordpress.com/

The city of Paris during this particular period of history is greatly interesting to me. As Wendy is interested in the Anne Lister journals and only lives about twenty miles from me, we agreed to meet and have now formed a friendship based on our mutual interest in women’s journals.

Now, however, I am on the stool of repentance for neglecting my work and for the next six days I have vowed to resist the temptations of the outside world and give my full attention to Anne Lister – apart from little diversions, such as writing this blog post. (Oh, and watching ‘The Politician’s Husband’ on BBC2!)

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