Monday, 8 November 2010

In remembrance of times gone by

Whilst life here comes as close to perfect as it gets, there are those odd moments when things get a little shaky and this week I was confronted with a bit of a dilema. One of the French institutions that I find unfathomable but intriguing all the same, is the village dispute. Passions run deep over here and fence sitting is not one of the french strong points. Our village has a population of around 300 and we are deeply divided along the lines of 'For the mayor' or 'Against the mayor'. To some our mayor is a jumped up oportunist with ideas above his station. He is more interested in a quick deal and personal glorification than the welfare of the village. To others he is seen as progressive, outward looking, seeking to place Montmelard on a wider platform than the village boundary lines. To me, he gave permission for us to put up some signs highlighting where we are, gave his blessing to the barn conversion and seemed genuinely happy to conduct our wedding service as and when we get around to naming the date. So, my dilema- Last weekend a flyer arrived in the post box announcing an afternoon of cine film up in the village hall depicting village life from 1973-1980. I enjoy history, particularly local history, so this seemed a great opportunity to take a look at the village pre my arrival. I called my neighbour, full of enthusiasm, to see whether she wanted to come with me. 'Non!!' It appeared that the film had been put together by a group that were 'against the mayor' and as such we should boycot. My neighbour has been a good friend and so I decided that, on this occasion, I would stay home. Two days later I was visiting Cote Pain, an exceptional baker just at the top of our road, who specialise in rustic 'artisanal' breads. Their chocolate and nut bread really is to die for and it is one of our little treats we indulge ourselves with. The lady who runs Cote Pain had said she was happy to display some of our leaflets so I had taken a batch up to her and these had been lovingly displayed on a small table next to the 5 grain loaves. As I was leaving, a sheet of paper was pressed into my hand. I recognised it as the advert for the film show. 'Please will you come and support us at this show, it would mean a lot?' I mumbled that I would love to and left, blushing. So, support the show to support my breadmaking friends (who were supporting my business) but be labeled as 'against the mayor' or stay at home, please my neighbour and be labeled as a mayor follower. How did this happen? In the end, interest in the film won the day and, dragging Mark with me, we spent a very enjoyable couple of hours watching footage from 35 years ago. We spotted people we now know, all well into middle age, as youngsters and tried to recognise places that have since been renovated. At the interval there was home made cake (we took 5 pieces to save the young lady serving having to find some change) and a raffle. By the time I got home there was an email waiting for me from my neighbour. her mother in law had spotted me in the audience. I owned up and emphasised that I was there purely in a research capacity and in no way did it reflect my politics. I think I've been let off.

So, onto one other great french institution - Jean Michel Jarre. Mark and I have quite different music tastes and when we first moved in together were astounded when we could only find one album we had in common (The Pussycat Dolls!)Yet we both like JMJ, although I confess I probably haven't listened to any of his music since the 80s. In need of a night out we headed down to Lyon to watch this legend in concert. What a showman, what a show. The celebrated laser show was jaw droppingly impressive and JMJ, although he must be into his 50s, moved with the energy and suppleness of someone half his age. Excellent. We've now been humming Oygene IV and Equinox for a week so probably need to get out again soon!

By the way, the postcards of Montmelard are from the turn of the last century, we're a little behind the times here but had moved on from horse and carts by 1976!!

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