D-Day? An away game against Germany with Yanks

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The Independent Online
A RECENT poll tells us that most people have only a hazy idea of what D-Day was actually all about. Can this really be true? Well, of course it can. But to make sure, we have done our own survey of what a cross-section of ordinary people think historically happened on D-Day. Here are the illuminating results.

Margaret Thatcher (itinerant lecturer): You should never go into Europe. Never. Except if the conditions are right. I have always said this. I shall go on saying this until I am dead. I shall probably go on saying it long after. Let me say it again. Go into Europe, yes - but only if the conditions are right] And were they right in 1944? That is not for me to say. I will say this, however. They could not have been worse. Thank you. I will invoice you.

Ian Paisley (a doctor): D-Day was the day when thousands of ordinary men and women crossed over into France armed to the teeth, ready for any brutal treatment they might receive - and why? Because they were all going into a Papist country, that's why] Yes, France is a Catholic country] Who knows what might happen to you in a Catholic country] You might be forced to stay married to the same woman all your life] You might be forced to have babies when all you wanted was a bit of fun] You might be getting people shouting at you and telling you what to do, and no let-off] Well, I'm telling you that we don't want that sort of thing here and that's final]]]

Bill Clinton (politician): It was a difficult decision to make. Have no doubt about that. The President of the time had an election coming up in the next year or two. He couldn't be sure what the effect on the voters would be. How would they take the news that America had got involved in an invasion of France? Most of the voters had maybe never heard of France. This D-Day thing was a damned difficult decision to make. Have no doubt about that. Believe me, I should know.

This is a recorded message. If you require any further information, call the White House press office. It was a difficult decision to make. Have no doubt about that . . . .

Michael Portillo (political agitator): I think there came a point when the average decent and quiet British public got absolutely sick of the constant violence and the constant unrest, and said, Enough is enough] We don't want you here any more] Take your chewing-gum and your jitterbugging and your loose sexual mores, and get over to France where they might appreciate it] And over they went, and I think we were right to make them go]

Woody Allen (intellectual): For many of the Americans in the wartime forces, this was the first time they had been to Europe, right? For many, it was the first time they'd been out of America. Actually, for a lot of them it was the first time they had heard proper English spoken. But what they all had in common was that they had been in Britain for three, maybe six months. And you know that it is physically impossible for an American first-timer abroad to be happy more than three days in any country. Amazing, isn't it? An American can spend 40 years in Des Moines, Iowa, and never run out of things to do, but after three days in London they're bored already. I guess it takes a special sort of mind . . .

Anyway, they were bored out of their minds in Britain] They'd had six months of British cooking and British weather and British conversation - can you imagine] They were desperate to go somewhere else. Then they found out that France was only 20 miles away] They were crazy to get to France] So the authorities, who weren't stupid, kept them cooped up in England for six months till they'd gone out of their minds with boredom and then let them loose on occupied France. The Germans ran like chickens. Who can blame them? If you saw a horde of half a million bored Americans descending on your country, determined to get through the place in three days and have a good time and then the hell out, wouldn't you retreat a little?

Terry Venables (football supremo): No, well, away games against Germany are always difficult at the best of times, even on neutral grounds. So I think we did well. Injury problems? You always get them. It's par for the course.

John Betjeman (late poet laureate): Goodness, what a lot of people

Making noises on the sand]

Oh dear - there goes a Norman

steeple]

What a shame. Its shape was

grand.

Now here comes a Yankee

bomber

Blowing up the German

tanks . . . .

Let's come back here in the

summer

France this springtime? No,

thanks]

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