President's Report - July/August 2006
This month's report is a combined July/August edition, occasioned by the fact that there was no monthly meeting in July, and exacerbated by pressure of other commitments on our hard-working editorial group. It is a well known historical fact that on 18 June 1815, Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Waterloo by allied forces under the Duke of Wellington, ably assisted by a Prussian army led by Field Marshall Biycher. Also well known, is the major factor in Napoleon's defeat - he delayed attacking Wellington's army until midday to allow the ground to dry out, a delay that allowed Biycher's troops to progressively reach Waterloo and swing the tide of battle against Napoleon.
However, I am pleased to report that on 25 June 2006, on the lawns of Old Parliament House in Canberra, Napoleon's French forces (members and immaculately prepared cars of the Peugeot, Citroen and Renault clubs) won a resounding victory over the British force (a motley collection of Rover, Morris, Vauxhall, Bentley, Jaguar etc), with not a single Prussian in sight. Indeed, a resplendent Napoleon featured in the next day's Canberra Times, thus enshrining the glorious French victory in the 2006 Battle of Waterloo. Needless to say, French celebrations also occurred on 14 July, Bastille Day, marking the storming of the Bastille by armed Parisians at the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789.
As invited representatives of the Peugeot Association, John Bower and I attended a lunchtime reception at the French Embassy, and this was followed, in the evening, by our traditional Bastille Day club dinner. Hard to know how many people were at the French Embassy - perhaps 200 or so. It took 20 minutes in the queue outside the embassy for most invited guests to even get in the door, though I was informed later, by a friend, that dignitaries, including him, were swiftly admitted through another entrance.
Despite the crowd, the ambassador, M. Francois Descoueyte, met and shook hands with each person in the reception hall, and enthusiastically led the singing of La Marseillaise after a short speech. It was a cold, overcast day, but I was warmed by good French red wine, accompanied by excellent bread and cheeses. Barry McAdie, from the Renault club, who also attended, told me later that the French ambassador lamented the fact that I did not attend as Napoleon - maybe next year......
The Bastille Day dinner was held at Zaraz Restaurant in Braddon, where 16 members of the Peugeot, Renault and Citroen clubs enjoyed an excellent evening - our thanks to the staff of Zaraz for providing terrific food in very pleasant surroundings. Napoleon did not make an appearance, but Josephine was there in all her glory. As usual, our singing of the French national anthem was abysmal, but we all agreed to do better next year. The Bastille Day dinner was held in lieu of a club meeting in July. This month our club meeting will be held at a different venue: Canberra Services Club, on the corner of Canberra Ave and Manuka Circle, just near the entrance to Manuka Oval.
The meeting will be at 8 pm on Tuesday 29 August, but I recommend that members aim to arrive before 7.45 pm so that the formalities of signing in to the club can be dispensed with in a timely manner. The club has a warm, friendly atmosphere, and it could become our regular meeting place if members feel it has the right ambience. So, let's have a good turnout for our first meeting at the CSC, when I hope to entertain you with stories and photos from my several recent trips to the Tanami Desert region of the Northern Territory.
Keep on Pugging,