Thursday 11 November 2010

Rememberance Day

I have just read last year's blog about Rememberance Day and it made me think that perhaps we have progressed a little socially. In very small steps.

Just the sort of weather today that makes me think of The Somme and the trenches. Cold, wet and miserable. Went up to the memorial in the car although it is only a short walk up the hill. Lots more nods of welcome. The mayor was there in his sash and Bernard - his right hand man - was there in his kepi, (left over from military service he said later) holding the commune flag. There was another man who obviously owned the portable CD player and microphone - hastily covered in plastic bags - rather officiously checking stuff.

The ceremony set off after a wait - not for 11 o'clock ,or the bells from the town, or the man that everyone said 'here's someone else coming' - with the french equivalent of The Last Post on the CD player. Bernard duly lowered his flag. CD owner then grabbed the microphone and said that there would be a minute's silence............................. Shortly followed by the beginning of the Marseillaise - oops - panic stations.

Lots of fumbling and button pushing which took up most of the minute.

(Interruption for car that wanted to get by.)

Then a transfer of microphone to the lad that reads the names on the memorial. After momentary tangle of wire and flag, each name was announced with a murmur of 'mort pour la France' after each one as we all stood with umbrellas dripping and heads bowed.

Then a continuation of the Marseillaise, a few words from the mayor and off to the Mairie for an apero.

CD player man then stood up and told the gathering a story which I think was about the first and last french soldier killed in the first world war. Definitely something about a french soldier that died at a quarter to eleven on 11th November 1918. But, as usual, in full dramatic flow a lot of it went over my head.

Nice to see the old boy that does the potager up the road out and about (His potager has been uncultivated this year). Spoke to the skeletal guy who we haven't met but wave at most times we go to the shops, who had obviously heard that we had had the trailer stolen 2 years ago. At last managed to continue a conversation with a lady that had mentioned to me before that she wanted to learn English. Still not sure what has prompted this interest, something to do with a DVD she wants to understand. But hey. She also had her friend who is the lady from the place where Him Outdoors buys sand/cememt and between them they were brave enough to talk. The sand lady is used to all the guys coming in who can't speak french so we all managed very well. (Helped along by a couple of glasses of Sangria!)

We are gradually getting less scarey, more familiar...........................

Monday 8 November 2010

Don't waste it

As children a large part of our play was with boxed games. As I remember it, we always had a new one at Christmas. Eldest brother would have the job of reading the instructions and then telling the rest of us how to play. There would often be a frantic search of the house for paper and pencils.
I could never bring myself to use the pads of paper that were provided with the game. My spirograph box still had all the paper that came with it when I retrieved it from my parents' house when we cleared it out! We have never used the Pictionary paper. Never written the answers on the Cluedo pads..................
I have noticed the same feeling today.
On Saturday we went to the twice yearly book fair. A sort of English Jumble Sale where every book is a euro. We took back the dregs of our last visit and some of the hospice shop trawl from England and brought home another 50.
I love the feeling of delving into the pile and sinking deep into a story. BUT I can't bear the feeling of 'oh no I'm halfway through and then it will be gone' Slow down, read more slowly, don't waste it. But I can't read slowly (or carefully, or remember it) just great gulps of words that transport me to wherever the author intends. And then it's gone and there is a huge feeling of regret that is bigger than satisfaction in the ending.
Still there are another 49 to go!

Friday 5 November 2010

It's unsettling

As I've said before, we live a quite isolated life in rural France. One of my contacts with the world is through here and today I have realised that two bloggers that I read with interest have moved on from France to other things. Another returnee has stopped blogging. Our only near English neighbour is set to go back to England before Christmas.

All these people, subconciously or otherwise, are writing/talking of the negatives of France.

Now, I know, from experience, that this is what you do when you are set to leave somewhere for pastures new. We have done it ourselves - although not from England to here which was a happy adventure. On some level, you have to go on to a better place.

That's all ok, and I understand, but for the ones left behind it's unsettling.