Monday, August 20, 2018

A Republican Baptism.

Brother and sister wait with ill concealed impatience while their master looks for their leads.

Sophie has two modes of walking. The agonizingly slow ' stop and sniff every flower ' mode and the ' Let's get a move on ' mode. Today we're in supra fast ' Let's get a move on ' mode. She has a whole world to explore.

On our way back from the morning walk we see a crowd gathering outside the church. The eldest son of the drainage engineer, Monsieur Bozo, is having his new born baptized. Being practical folks the ceremony is scheduled for a Monday morning when everyone is en route to work. The mayor, accompanied by his wife, is officiating. For the great event he is wearing his perma-press crimplene trousers, dark green 'shimmery' shirt and blazer. He is also sporting his red plaid pork pie hat. A tricolour sash completes the formal attire. The little Bozo is being welcomed into the village community in style. The Godparents are told they must '' contribute those indispensable qualities which will let him become a citizen devoted to the public good and respect for liberty ". Amen to that.

The ceremony is in the town hall but then the proud parents walk across to the church porch where a large conch shell has been filled with water .The mother holds the infant while a procession of aunts, uncles, friends and neighbours scoop water into their hands and dribble it on the bairns head. He kicks but doesn't scream at the indignity. This is one of life's innocently happy rituals. A puddle of water on the porch floor marks the spot where the water was poured and the wee fellow was, for a moment, the axis on which the universe turned. 

After everyone has gone I see the mayor reversing the little Renault up to the front door of the town hall. His wife hobbles out bent nearly double. With no one looking she seems tired and frail and in pain - not the laughing figure seen at the baptism. Madame Bay tells me she's had five hip operations but this number may suffer from village story inflation. Three seems more probable. The mayor helps her into the car and, unaware that anyone is looking, plants a kiss on her cheek and strokes her hair. Her presence beside him another of life's small victories.

At the bakers the cake selection is improving. So is the service. A bowl of water, ear tickles and croissant slivers are delivered to our table on the terrace. Bob gives the waitress his '' I really love you '' look. Sophie, being a diva and an altogether more exalted form of existence than her brother , takes it for granted.

So starts a happy new week in deepest, deepest France profonde. There are good people here.


  1. What a moving post. You've got such a good story-telling gift. Love this blog. All the best, Selina (Australia).

  2. One sentence involving a kiss and a stroke of the hair brings tears to my tired post-Edinburgh Festival eyes this morning. Gail.

  3. The bakery is looking better - everyone must be back from their holidays.

    What a nice moment, a quiet kiss is very touching.

  4. Can't say I've ever heard of a DIY drive by baptism, sans scripture, priest or church official. People do cling to comforting rituals.
    Pam, keeper of Bonnie the wee Scottie

  5. Way over here in Texas, the mayor's wife springs to mind when, say, my back is bothering me and I'm feeling sorry for myself. It must be exhausting to contend with such constant pain. You'd think the wonderful French medical system could do something to help the poor woman. As you have often said, the mayor is a lovely man.

  6. The love of mayor and his wife makes me tear up.

  7. Civilization turns on such small kindnesses.You paint pictures with words, thank you.