The Saturday Shot #25: carrying on, and on, and on...

London 2012 - Keep calm and carry on
For this week Saturday Shot, I had to go back one more time to these unique scenes caught during the London 2012 Olympics. After all, the games were the reasons why I have been unable to fulfil my weekly social contributions.

I had brilliant times about which I wrote on this other blog (in French). And frankly speaking I wished that fortnight would carry on for a bit longer. Not only for the sporting performances, as with the Euro, Wimbledon, Le Tour de France, we have been blessed this summer... No, I simply think that during these two weeks, London and the rest of the world has been smilling a bit more than usual.

Since I always accompany my saturday pictures with a quote, I had to refer to the genitor of the modern Olympics:

"May joy and good fellowship reign, and in this manner, may the Olympic Torch pursue its way through ages, increasing friendly understanding among nations, for the good of a humanity always more enthusiastic, more courageous and more pure." Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937)




This summer marked my sixth year on the British soil. An anniversary which also means that I have now lived longer in the British capital than in Paris for instance. During that time I got accustomed to the local rhythm, the indigenous habits, the cultural disparities... I have blended in. This is quite an ambivalent feeling as Brits and French are traditionally referred to as what one could call frenemies, i.e. the worst friends and the best enemies. I wrote quite a few articles about this Entente Cordiale that unites both nations, but being right in the middle of it is an awkward situation.

Although I am not British, I feel sometimes so and this city is like home. So no wonder that during the Olympics I waved and cheered at team GB, that I carried a Union Jack in my backpack... I got lucky and could attend quite a few events in the end. The lottery granted us only some tickets for a men volleyball semi-final, but perseverance and tenacity (let alone networking and generous friends) opened a few more doors. At these events, we were there as French nationals, as Londoners, as sport supporters.

Moment of truth.

But at a time when nations drop their weapons and random quarrels to support their Olympian troops, you are supposed to choose sides. I felt like a child in the middle of a divorce case. I love both mummy and daddy. I value Churchill and De Gaulle. I want the goldfish and its bowl. I want weekdays and weekends... I wanted to support blue, white and red, no mater whether these colours are laid out in crosses or in tiers.

And I thought so. I thought that almost like a bi-national I had today both nations ingrained in my soul on parity. But it was not the case... It took me a minute to realise it. Well, two half-times of 30 minutes each and 1 minute to raise a flag an that was it. Goose bump, spinal shivers, a tear in the eye... But who would not when hearing this:

France retains its Olympic title by beating Sweden in handball final

La Marseillaise

France national anthem, La Marseillaise, was written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in 1792. The French National Convention adopted it as the Republic's anthem in 1795. The name of the song is due to first being sung on the streets by volunteers from Marseille but was soon adopted by the revolutionary armies which put an end to the French monarchy and dropped the seed of the Republic.
This song is a war song, a march that galvanise soldiers and unite them behind a cause... During the 1992 winter Olympic games in Albertville, a young, pure, white-dressed girl sung a capella this anthem in front of millions during the opening ceremony, and many only then realised how violent the lyrics could sound...
La Marseillaise (most commonly sung extract. Source: Wikipedia)

French lyricsEnglish translation
Allons enfants de la Patrie,Arise, children of the Fatherland,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé !The day of glory has arrived!
Contre nous de la tyrannie,Against us tyranny
L'étendard sanglant est levé, (bis)Raises its bloody banner (repeat)
Entendez-vous dans les campagnesDo you hear, in the countryside,
Mugir ces féroces soldats ?The roar of those ferocious soldiers?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos brasThey're coming right into your arms
Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes !To cut the throats of your sons and women!
Aux armes, citoyens,To arms, citizens,
Formez vos bataillons,Form your battalions,
Marchons, marchons !Let's march, let's march!
Qu'un sang impurLet an impure blood
Abreuve nos sillons !Water our furrows!

This anthem sung in the handball arena, the box that rocks as the British journalists nicknamed it, swept any doubt that no matter happens and how long I will stay away from my homeland, at core I will remain French. An interesting realisation amidst athletic performances which contrasts a lot with some conversations I have had with US immigrants who had decided to embrace the US Constitution and rejected their origins by doing so. Unfathomable for me. Now.

Enjoy a selection of pictures from my Olympics: