Thursday 31 March 2011


At this week's flower making group there was much mention of an evening get together for our commune and another local commune. When I asked what sort of an evening they said it was a lunch, with much delight taken in that I would understand their English word.

Ummmmmm sorry but lunch is always at lunch time. Didn't really get to the bottom of what they meant because they all got diverted to brunch and other meals.

Lunch was last night. We found the salle des fetes which was the only place lit up with cars outside and also a coach. Out of the coach came a few ladies in long (mostly black) dresses with white lace bonnets and shawls. We all cram into the village hall type room where some of the coach load are setting up with accordians and sort of wind up cross between a guitar and a keyboard - maybe hurdy gurdy??

Plastic cups of a fierce aperatif are offered. Him Outdoors looks hopefully at the bottles of red wine on the table looking for some assistance with his smiling and nodding but that is definitely for later. Some tiny squares of nibbles handed round. Everyone that we recognised seemed delighted that we had come which was lovely. Maurice (the boss of the flower tying on) made a point of telling Him Outdoors what a good flower maker I was - bless him. Surprisingly only two or three of the flower makers were there.

Then on to the buffet (or lunch, since buffet is french for sideboard?) couscous, cold roast pork, pate, bread, a sort of quiche mixture cooked as a loaf, several deserts and at last the red wine. Much talk getting louder and louder. General shedding of layers as the room begins to warm up with the bodies.

Then the musicians start, one of the ladies starts to sing and walk around flirting with the men. While she is singing, the dancers are arranging themselves. Half a dozen middle aged women and one tiny dapper man and one much larger man in huge wooden clogs who for some reason had a bandage wrapped round his middle outside his shirt but under his braces?? Some of the music was familiar to us from other events and some of the dancing but lots of complicated footwork, weaving in and out and spinning.

After a few dances we were invited to join in and lots of the younger ladies got up and danced in pairs. 'Strictly' eat your heart out. The best dancers were a couple that looked as if they should be part of a little house where the man and woman come out of the door depending upon the weather. Tiny, neat dark clothes, perfectly synchronised, obviously danced together for years and were thoroughly enjoying their skills.

Then they let the audience have a go and we all learnt the sort of line dancing that they do at every one of these sort of things with lots of laughing and jollity and confusion. By this time the dancers were very hot and tired and by general agreement there was a pause. And Maurice was called for. Mau.... rice, Mau.....rice, Mau......rice.

Now Maurice is a dear, rotund smiley man of about 60. With some pretence of hesitation he walks to the front and starts to tell a story much to the delight of the crowd who knew exactly what was coming. The story was something about a young man who leaves his village to go to Paris and goes to a bar and asks ladies to dance and then somehow that I lost completely there is mention of their underwear. Just enough vulgarity to make the elderly ladies giggle and the men laugh out loud. Such delight in the room at his brilliantly told story. We were laughing out loud with no idea what was actually being said.

Very simple. Very affectionate. Lovely.


  1. I used to enjoy these things...there's always a local Maurice who has THAT story that everyone's heard fifty times...and wants to hear again.

    It wasn't all that long ago you were wondering if you'd ever make contact with the people among whom you lived...just look at you now!

  2. Lovely account, Rosie. what fun! We always go to the fete communale during our summers in Normandy, but only to the lunch and the fete champetre afterwards. There's a bal populaire in the evebning, but it starts so incredibly late that we've never yet stayed awake long enough to go. We've not yet been there for the September soiree, but hope to do so either this year or next.

    We find everyone is pleased to see us attend, especially as we help to clear away the meal afterwards and shift tables and benches to get the salle ready for the dance.

  3. I know Fly - it's the joining thing, just like you said :-)

  4. I love how you have conveyed the sense of being completely, but safely, happily, at sea. That must be how we feel as children when things are going well but we haven't the vaguest idea what's going on. Great story, Rosie.

  5. Thank you Pliers. I seem to spend my life being happily at sea :-)