Tuesday, October 22, 2013

We are asleep with compasses in our hands.

The accordionist finally arrives, ten minutes late. He shrugs, looks at his watch and mutters something. The standard bearers process into the church, the villagers and dignatries crowding in behind. There is the slightest of delays while the young priest deals with an errant flag that has become entangled in the porch curtain.  

The ladies of the Beautiful Byeways Committee and the Floral Village Association have set aside their differences and formed a choir. They've had two, brief, rehearsals. The sound of Ave Maria, sung lustily, fills the church. The little lady in the purple hat conducts while the accordionist tries to keep up. Madame Bay waves at us. She's wearing an overstuffed black velvet beret which sports, for some unknown reason, a large red and vividly swaying cockade.

The young priest is a good judge of people. He moves through the mass at a jaunty speed, the sermon kept brief. The old combatants barely have a chance to get fidgety before it's time to proceed outside for the unveiling of the Algerian War Memorial. The flags, the porch curtain and the low doorway once again cause a momentary traffic jam.

France has many layers of government. All of them are represented on the village green. The Prefect , dressed in her official uniform, sweeps into the car park in a chauffeur driven Peugeot. The mayor , resplendent in a new suit and tricolour sash, makes a speech of welcome. The speech is briefly delayed while the mayors wife rushes off to the car to find his reading glasses. After that the Prefect inspects the guard of honour, lays a wreath and shakes hands with the general from Paris. The accordionist appears, the Marseillaise is sung and then the ceremony draws to a close. The old combatants mop their eyes.

Ten at night. Time for Bob and Sophie's last tour of the garden before bed. All is quiet apart from the sound of the frogs in the village pond and a solitary accordion carrying across from the Salle des Fetes. The old combatants and the depressive physiotherapist are still partying. It's been a perfect day in deepest, deepest France profonde.


  1. Words and pictures combine to provide those of us not living in deepest France profonde with the perfect evocation of the day.

  2. Sounds like the after ceremony festivities were the best. Hope the party helps the accordionist 's mood.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

  3. Finally a photo of Madame Bay.....love the red cockade on her beret (please don't say it isn't so).
    I'm glad that the ceremony went well with only a few minor hiccups.
    Love the happenings in deepest France profonde, and thanks to you we get to enjoy them too.

  4. I am glad it went well for all concerned. The church looks lovely.

    1. It has been restored with painstaking professionalism. The end result is that the church, after many years of neglect, looks as good as new. Maintaining the patrimonie one of the things the French do so well.

  5. At least the accordionist wasn't too depressed to turn up

  6. The church is glorious, as was the weather, it seems. And the Prefect looks rather nautical, all that sleeve braid. Is that really Mme Bay to the right of her? I pictured her as quite small.

  7. Certainly a beautiful day for such a ceremony.

  8. She reminds me of the woman from Bagdad Cafe.

  9. Still not sure which is Mme Bay - no sign of a black beret or a red cockade, but glad it all went well.
    French traditions are fascinating - I have been following the saga of French Law with interest on Chrissies blog - Napoleon still exerts an influence! http://hobosinfrance.wordpress.com/

  10. Lovely. The church looks splendid.
    Job well done.