A walk around Lille this morning to take a photograph of the fish restaurant (sadly now closed) with wonderful mosaics, and the truncated cathedral. Also the Flemish-style Old Bourse, in whose courtyard I was delighted to discover plaques commemorating French scientists and technologists who contributed to industrial development (with particular reference to Lille’s textiles). The heroic style was an odd choice to mark feats such as the improved production of sugar beet . . . but actually that’s of far more use than winning a battle thousands of miles away, so why not? What I really liked was the cartouche for Jacquart (that was their spelling); yes, there were the punch cards, displayed like a Roman cornucopia.
I walked out to the star-shaped Vauban fort, which is still used by the French military. It was there that I discovered a war memorial with a difference. At first I laughed at the “travelling pigeon” inscription and the overblown symbolism (yes, I know pigeons were “war heroes” in that they carried messages across enemy lines, but they did it involuntarily so I’m not raising my chapeau to them). However, having read the side panels I changed my tune and began to see the pigeon – if not direct from Ararat – at least as a sign of reconciliation. The memorial, erected in 1936, is dedicated to colombophiles who were shot by the Germans for sheltering messenger pigeons.