Mr Feutren (Fruity) isn’t from France
but Brittany. Important. Make no mistake.
Something –– anger? passion? –– has shorn his face
to a bald, beak-nosed, hunched-electric presence.
Yes, he fought with the SS during the war.
A Breton nationalist, why should he hide
what he believes? What he did was justified
(though I’m not sure who these justifications are for).
The Irish, so stupide! Hard to believe
how little we know, and how can we make a start
when, in restaurants, we ignore the heart
of asparagus, to nibble at the leaves.
Now he has lost patience and swoops to wrench
some slowcoach from his desk. I am in his sights
and will be next. Because of (or despite)
whatever he fled, he teaches excellent French.
When our French teacher (in St. Conleth's, Clyde Rd. Dublin) died in 2010 he left a load of papers of 'historical interest' (along with a bequest of £300,000) to The National Library of Wales. This created a minor scandal because of his historically interesting past as a Breton nationalist/collaborator in the Bezen Perrot, essentially an SS unit. He even had a proper uniform and title: SS-Oberscharführer. He fled after the war, first to Germany then Wales and eventually Ireland. Though I never learned a word of French (or much else) in school, he was a vivid presence, and apparently (according to my school friends) a brilliant teacher. So I've included him (above), in a sequence I'm working on about my school days (ironically titled 'Academic').
PHOTO: SS-Oberscharführer Louis Feutren, ID photo for his Soldatenbuch, c. early 1945. (Bezen Perrot archives)