Well, a very unexpected email yesterday from a Belgian woman, Vicky Possot. She said that she was idling through the Internet, looking for a reference to her father, René Possot. He was a Belgian army officer, a paratrooper and a commando, when he commanded the Belgian army’s anti-tank missile school in the early 60’s. She discovered a reference to him on page 60 of my book A Journey of Days, in which I wrote about a linguistic adventure … or misadventure … that I had had while in Belgium on a missile course in 1963 … that’s 47 years ago. From the book:
“I got to be very good friends with the school’s commander, a Belgian Army paratrooper named Capitaine Réné Possot. He invited me to join him and his wife, Louise, for a weekend in Liège, which was where she lived with her daughter, Claire. I arrived in Liège by train, was picked up at the station by René, and taken to his home in Visé.
“In the evening, we decided to go out to a nightclub for a few drinks. For some reason, I was sitting in the back of their car with Louise while René was driving. It was very warm and humid, so I commented, innocently, I thought, “René, je suis chaud” (I am hot). He laughed and said, “I hope not. You are sitting back there with my wife!” Then the two of them explained to me with much amusement, that, in French, there are two ways of saying “I am hot.” If it is the weather that is making you hot, you say; “J’ai chaud.” Literally, “I have heat.” The construction that I had used means “I am horny,” which, while accurate at the time, was not what I intended to say. Happily, both René and Louise thought it amusing rather than alarming.”
Back to the email from Vicky Possot:
“Good evening Sir
First, please forgive my bad English, … I was searching something on the net with my fathers’ name Possot René, and I was surprised when I read those few words about him!!! I know, (I was a very young girl) that he received Canadian people when we were living in “Visé” … are you really writing ‘This René Possot” story ?? he was in fact captain… I just remember little things !! It would be strange and also amusing to find you by that way.
Please forgive me if I’m not right but the name of Possot is very rare !!
Hoping to read from you soon,
My recollection is that René had a 12-year-old daughter named Claire. I remember this because Claire was my mother’s name. If the Vicky who wrote me is the same woman, then 47 years have passed since we last met and she is now about 59 years old! I have responded to her email but have not yet had a reply. I will keep you posted.