So imagine, if you will, a beautiful Anzac Day commemoration, replete with upright old men and well-scrubbed schoolchildren, garnished with solemnity and flowers, all set to the clinking of war medals. Now take that ceremony and set it at the top of an old fort, where a flame burns beneath a crumbling tower and a French flag the size of a bed sheet. Spread out, to one side, a flock of masts, docked against a sprawling city and a ring of mountains; to the other, the Mediterranean, a little moody beneath the morning sky. Throw in a strong crowd of young and old, a ringing of bells from across the port, and a brass band that bursts into the Marseillaise at every possible opportunity, and you have an experience like no other this particular girl has ever had.

There was a little boy standing next to me, and in the solemn silence after the band played, he called out “encore!” and I couldn’t have agreed more.


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