Sunday, November 12, 2017

A privilege to meet.

The Armistice Commemoration is due to start at 11:00. The mayor has mislaid the official speech that all French mayors have to read. After much searching he finds that it’s slipped down the side of the old Renaults passenger seat. As he emerges from the car waving the lost speech in the air a pack of hunting dogs race round the corner of the village hall and go careering through the village. Several minutes later a cortege of white Peugeot vans follow on. It's the neighbouring villages Saturday morning hunt. We finally get underway at 11:16. 

The mayor is in a brown suit with matching brown shirt and tie. For this most sombre of duties he wears his tricolor sash and red checkered pork pie hat. Madame Bay is in funereal black or what might be funereal black were it not enlivened by a pair of turquoise, orange and yellow running shoes. Monsieur Bay and the retired gendarmes are in blazers with medals. They stand ramrod straight. One of the Bay's great grandchildren carries the flag. Great grandfather tells him when to dip it and when to raise it. The little boy positively beams with delight at being entrusted with such a great responsibility. 

The little lady in the purple hat sings the Marseillaise. The villagers mumble along one – or in the case of those villagers with hearing that isn’t what it used to be - two notes behind. The village odd job mans dogs who have been quietly watching proceedings from his balcony decide this is a good time to howl. The old lady at the crossroads lays a wreath of bright orange flowers on the war memorial steps.

The mayor turns his back on the small crowd and reads this years speech from the French President or Defence Minister or possibly both. There is no explanation as to why it's being read or who has written it. The speech appears to  mention every country that took part in WW1 apart from the Brits. There again the mayor mumbles so I might be wrong about being written out of history.  Then the name of the French villagers killed in the fighting are read out. The mayors great uncle first on the list. 37 of them in total. After each name Monsieur Bay and his colleagues shout out 'Mort pour la France'. Each time the great grandson dips and then raises the flag . A minutes silence. The bell in the church tower tolls. This year the mayor becomes quite emotional. It's his first ceremony without his wife in attendance. Madame Bay notices but she hides her feelings by blowing her nose loudly and frequently. There are gentle intimations of mortality in the air.

We stand and chat as the villagers one by one drift home. It seems the mayors wife has had her third hip replacement. They have had to drill into the already brittle bone to make a new socket. This has proven to be a difficult operation for the surgeons and a painful one for the mayors wife. The mayor tells me she is in great pain but tries to keep cheerful. ‘’ Between you and me she’s very depressed “ he adds. With that he looks down for a moment, then smiles and heads off. 

There are some quiet people in life you are just thankful to have had the privilege of meeting.

Bob and Angus take a long late afternoon walk while the rain holds off

The PONs spend their evening watching 'The Font ' prepare Gaufre de pomme de terre, creme de fromage frais et magret fume. Bob and Sophie are uncertain whether they prefer Gaufre, Cream Cheese or Smoked Duck.

This seems a good thought for a Sunday :


WFT Nobby said...

Angus, there are many residents of your village whom I feel privileged to have to have read about and through your ever wonderful and vividly written blog.
Cheers, Gail.

MOPL said...

Nicely recounted for us. You are so right about the quiet people we meet in life.

MOPL said...

I support Bertie and Gails comments. You all give so much to the rest of us who read this blog

Susan said...

The list of allies must have been so long it confused mayors all over. At our ceremony it was the Australians who got missed (I noticed because I am Australian). The Brits and Canadians were definitely mentioned. There was a bit of a dig at the late entry and isolationist policy of the US.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
hmmmmm... the suspicious might wonder, based upon your observation and Susan's comment, if French communities are using a kind of 'you don't belong here' sublimation tactic... wherever you're from, we won't mention it. That said, there are definitely folk worth the meeting in life. Everywhere. YAM xx

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

I also agree with Gail's comments. And Jim Comey's tweet as well.

Unknown said...

Such a lovely post, oh the pictures in my head. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Gail sums it for me as well. The Comey quote is very good. And may the mayor's wife heal well.

Coppa's girl said...

Wholeheartedly agree with Gail's comments.
I hope my Lab. doesn't read this post - Bob and Sophie have such sophisticated palates, and all my girl gets is plain kibble !

Emm said...

Agreed, as well, with Gail's comment. I've just read the obits and remembrances for a long-time colleague, who died a week ago, far away, and am thankful to have had the privilege of meeting.

I, too, like Comey's quote, and especially his follow-up: "I included the picture of the Great Falls of the Potomac because I like it and because it reminds me of my favorite scripture verse, from Amos: 'But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.' ” Shade!

Bella Roxy & Macdui said...

We think the PONs should have another few tastes so they can decide which they prefer.

Beau and Mom said...

Yes, It almost feels like my second home at times! Thank You for sharing and your wonderful words & pictures.