“Elle chante très bien derrière”

How interesting it is that a few words in a foreign language can take one back to a moment 80 years ago with a far greater clarity than one can remember yesterday’s date.

I was about 18 years old at the time and even half the words in the above quote will take me back with pleasure to a moment I will never forget.

In August 1927 Vernon Warner’s family had joined ours f or the summer holiday of four weeks. We were on our way through France to Switzerland in our two cars – Vernon’s Chrysler and father’s open 5-seater Buick. There was no need to book stopping places in those days and seeing a notice of a restaurant and Hotel a few miles ahead we thought we would make our night-stop there. It was a lovely evening for eating outside and the proprietor suggested we waited while he prepared a special meal for us. A few minutes later we heard a chicken squark and the proprietor returned to tell us he was cooking a chicken meal which would be ready soon!

When this arrived it was getting dark so we pointed our cars at the tables outside and enjoyed a lovely meal in the lights of our cars’ headlamps.

While we were eating there was the sound of an approaching sports car and a young French couple called in for a drink and a snack. The car was a Bugatti with an enormous exhaust pipe. We made friends and discovered he was a famous opera singer. When they had finished eating he suddenly broke into song. He had a lovely voice and listening to it in the open air under the cars’ headlamps was a scene I will never forget. They were moving on and as we bid them farewell Vernon pointed to the Bugatti with the words that started this reminiscence.

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