The anniversary of the death of my father reminds me of another sad loss this year. Germain Guillemin was a man of gentle patience, a skilled marine engineer and later a hard-working local councillor. When I was just 17, he and his wife gave me a perfect introduction to French life. Each day he came home for a glorious three-course lunch. Afterwards he and Nicole sat close and drank coffee together, in easy companionship. It was bliss and it seems like another age.