Joan of Arc could have found the Age of Reason in Bonalbo 

Joan of Arc probably never made it to Bonalbo, which is a shame in a way because she may well have enjoyed our bronze Working Dog statue, our Hidden Mural or the enigmatic “There is no air” graffiti at the servo. 

That is, if she wasn’t totally freaked out of her maidenly medieval mind by the concept of air travel. It’s a double shame that Joan never made it here, because we may have been able to help her with her mental condition.

I discovered Jehanne la Pucelle, the Maid of Orleans, at a tender age. The Santa Collective (Mum and Dad) gave us four children a dreaded Group Christmas Present (cheaper than four separate ones). 

It was a plastic, battery-operated toy slide projector complete with half a dozen lame-o slide strips.

Dick Turpin the Highwayman promised action, but the slides only depicted a bit of galloping about and a “Stand and Deliver!” 

Then there was Joan of Arc. I remember the captions: ‘Joan has a vision’; Joan rides to see the King’; ‘She tells the King her story’; ‘Joan rides into battle’; ‘Joan is captured’ and ‘Joan is burnt at the stake’.

The burning at the stake slide showed, in vague hand-painted detail, Joan tied to a pole having a bit of a pray, and some flames. 

Today that sort of thing would come with a strict Parental Advisory about permanent scarring of young psyches, but in those days it was ‘just a bit of fun’.

I never really thought about Joan again for several decades. 

Repressed memory? I dunno.

Anyway, one night, for no good reason, I clicked on her Wikipedia page and learned a lot.

Her dad’s an upper-level French peasant. One night, aged 13, after a big meal of cheese, or whatever, she has a ‘vision’ in which she sees Archangel Michael, St Catherine and St Margaret. 

Perhaps they introduced themselves, or maybe wore name tags. It’s hard to know. 

Anyway, according to one, some, or all of them, she is the only person who can save France from the dirty English, who have been whupping le Frogs for the last decade or so.

Three years later, Joan rocks on up to the big house to tell the Lord her ‘holy story’. 

After copping an initial bum’s rush, she persuades a couple of knights to take her to see Le Roi

They dress her in an impervious onesie and men’s clothes so she doesn’t get ravished en route. This is very important, as you will learn.

She tells the King and his choice God-botherers her story. They are moved.

“We are moved, but be you a maiden?”

“Damn straight.” 

“If you are a maiden we’ll believe you, but if you aren’t then you are a witch and damn you to very hell!”

“Fair enough.”

The Queen checks her out.

“Yep, she’s a maiden.”

Everyone falls to their knees and Joan gets given a shield and banner and told to ride into battle with the boys, like a holy regimental goat, so everybody will know that the French have God on their side and they will win.

In summary, a teenage girl sees invisible friends. She tells people who don’t see invisible friends, but who are in the business of promoting invisible friends. These people are willing to believe her, as long as she is a maiden, which she is, so they do.

So, she busts the dread Siege of Orleans and clocks up a couple of big wins. 

The king promotes her whole family to the nobility.

She bills herself as ‘Joan the Virgin’ and her rousing battle cry, ‘Go, you good Frenchies!’ resounds across the land.But the English capture her and put her on trial. 

If they can prove she’s a witch it will show that the French don’t have God on their side and the moral high ground. 

Apparently Joan handles herself surprisingly well during the trial but they nail her on a technicality: cross-dressing. 

Yep, she’s a witch because she dresses like a man. And for that she burns.

So, yeah, it’s a real pity Joan never made it to Bonalbo. 

Someone would surely have just taken her aside and said, “Joni, they’re not real. You’re seeing things. Let’s get you some help.”

I kinda like it in the Age of Reason.

A lesson to us all.


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