Monday, August 3, 2015
The high point of the year.
Seven out of fifteen potters show up. The preponderance of no-shows may have something to do with the lady with the beehive hairdo's secretarial skills. Being blessed with unplanned for triplets makes for a somewhat scatter brained approach to village administration. '' I'm sure I posted out all the confirmation letters " she says in a tone of voice that hints at less than total certainty.
At ten we do a tour en famille. Bob and Sophie are remarkably well behaved. At eleven Angus is sent out, alone, to show willing. He is instructed not to spend too much. In light of the poor turnout this instruction is then amended to ' you'd better buy something small from every stall '
Angus returns home with a collection of artisinal mugs and small bowls. These will join prior years offerings in the basement. 'The Font' thinks Angus may have bought the smiley faced mugs last year.
The pottery kiln is lit. It blazes away. Smoke seeps out of cracks in the brickwork. The master potter seals up the cracks with putty. He refreshes himself from a bottle of Johnny Walkers kept for such occasions. By 12.30 he's settled into a state of talkative contentment.
The master potter and a variety of local farmers enjoy lunch under the plane trees on the village green. Madame Bay and the ladies of the Beautiful ByeWays Committee have cooked sausage and frites. The Old Farmer, by now rather red in the face, dispenses wine from a variety of cardboard boxes. Smoke rises from the barbecue and the kiln. The mayor greets me with unexpected profondity " M'Ongoose - La vie passe comme la fumee ". Angus decides it best to nod. The heat, the boxed Malbec ( €14.39 for 5 litres from the Cash and Carry ) and Madame Bays saucisson have combined to create a moment of deep conviviality.
The conviviality doesn't last. The master potter realizes that the kiln has gone beyond the firing stage and that some of the bricks are melting. The subsequent auction of 'fired' pottery is a muted affair. We buy what is described as a 16th century style cookery pot for €10. The only bid for what has by now become a blackened piece of clay. It takes some time to extinguish the kiln which continues to belt out smoke and ash like an Icelandic volcano.
Excitement over, life in the village can settle back into its summer torpor.