I SHALL NEVER FORGET ALBERT

I remembered the other day, our trip to France.

What brought this to mind, I do not recall.

It was summer.

We were seeking out 1st World War museums

In and around the Somme.

Wanting a pit-stop we found ourselves in the small town:

Albert.

*

In the town square was a public lavatory,

Not unlike the one above.

Not only I was desperate,

So, too, was my young granddaughter.

I opened the door.

What greeted me was a hole in the ground.

This was Albert.

*

Not only the stench knocked me backwards,

But the piles of faeces surrounding the latrine,

Where one had to have a bombers aim to hit the target.

I never even tried.

It would mean putting my feet in deep do-do,

Perhaps transferring said shit into the car.

We were in Albert.

*

Grabbing hold of my granddaughters hand, I turned and closed the door.

Eyes searched around the town square,

And there, on the right, was the only café around.

We went in to step back in time.

Like walking into a film, set during the early forties.

Not seen an oilskin tablecloth since the 50’s.

But this was Albert.

*

The coffee: superb.

The welcome: friendly.

Latrine out back: bottom of the yard.

The toilet English: no aim required.

What a relief.

We are in a new Millennium; aren’t we?

Yes, but not Albert.

*

Quaint and untouched was Albert

As it sat on the edge of the Somme battlefield, in Picardie.

There’s music in my head, but can’t remember the words to go with it.

It’s close to Armentieres and a Madam who could ‘parlez vous’.

In the middle of the Albert was The Musee Somme, set underground.

A sombre reminder of what men, like my Grandfather, went through.

For two reasons, I shall never forget Albert.