Monday, 16 July 2007

Liberty, equality, fraternity and fireworks


Yesterday, being Bastille Day , we attended, in the village, last night, the bal and repas celebrations, to mark, with suitable splendour and pomp, the of the birth of our glorious French Nation.

Being Brittany of course there are inevitably those who felt that it would have been far better for all had the whole State of France been drowned at birth and in his celebration speech, his first public appearance since the unfortunate experience with the Raki on the night of Nicolai Fartoocozy’s election as chairman of the twining committee, the Mayor was at great pains to point out that it is typical of the French to make such a fuss over the setting free of 4 counterfeit money marketeers, a couple of lunatics and a sexual deviant.

It was a stirring piece of oratory which kept his entire audience spell bound in awed silence, not least because he is still experiencing some difficulty with the left side of his face , which has not fully regained any sensations, and therefore he has a tendency to slur and dribble somewhat . Since the Raki overdose, one can not help but notice that he has developed an interesting facial tick, which causes his left eye to close and the corner of his mouth to quiver upwards in a sneer. However, he seems to have discovered that, by tugging hard at his left ear violently, he can curb the unfortunate involuntary movements of his visage and prompt his rhetoric into action. His French being rather idiosyncratic at the best of times this gives his oratory a rather surreal aspect. It was quite awe inspiring to watch, although wiser to do so at a safe distance as the spitting can be a trifle off putting.

The meal was a traditional menu and nothing to match Madame Grognonne’s exotic Arabian feast prepared for the Nicolas Fartoocozys inauguration, and the many French flags did look rather bizarre against a backdrop of Arabic mosaics and flamboyant arches left over from the same event. However, the dance itself was splendid, despite my fears that I might be prevailed upon to perform a gavotte with Jacques, which, after our soiree chez nous, is an experience I would rather avoid repeating.

The culmination of the evening at midnight was the tremendous feu de artifice display in the centre of the village with the whole square illuminated by red, white and blue fireworks accompanied by the sounds of Jean Claude on his bombard playing La Marseillaise with the help of Luc st Gilles banging his drum. Of course one could not quiet hear the musical accompaniment over the explosions and several of the older and more nationalistic Bretons refused to sing along anyway, but it was a wonderful idea to play the national anthem in tune with the light show, even if the reality fell somewhat short of expectations.

Remembering the recent demise of our hen house as a result of youngest fireworks display, we all stood at a safe distance, outside the salle de fete where we had a clear view of the church lit up in a spectacular explosion of colour and light and a tremendously loud bang which seem to shake the very soil itself with its exuberance. Poor Loic inevitably I am sure was shocked rigid by the cacophony but Madame Grognonne and Jacques had thoughtfully wedged him in a safe corner out of harms way by the church wall, before the fireworks began so that he would not come to any harm.

As the pyrotechnic display came to a close and the smoke cleared, we were surprised to discover that the loud bang all had taken to be the dramatic finale had in fact been the church tower exploding under the onslaught of a badly aimed rocket volley which kept the pompiers busy for the remainder of the night attempting to douse the flames which had spread from the tower to Monsieur le Bois’ wood store behind it .

I have my doubts, knowing the political affiliations of the Mayor and the town clerk, and the general dislike of our young curé who comes from outside Paris, as to just how accidental the destruction of the church tower was, but since the rise of Breton Nationalism here it is never wise for a woman of my high social standing to voice such opinions openly, I am after all despite being married to Chief Patissier for so long, a foreigner myself, not having been born in the commune. I do however suspect it may be some time before the state finds the funding to replace the damage ecclesiastical edifice.

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The illustration today is a painting of Marianne our symbol of France and the personification of our liberty. It is interesting to note that no one is quite sure who she was nor why she was chosen but must suppose that our forefathers had good reason for choosing a scantily clad, bare breasted, busty young woman with a red sock on her head to symbolize their new nation. Rumour had it she was suggested as a symbol by one of those liberated from the Bastille in 1789 but as to whether it was a criminal a pervert or the lunatic who suggested it has continued to be a point of some deliberation ever since.

15 comments:

sally's chateau said...

It's the way you tell it that makes me smile !

The Country Craft Angel said...

I have said it before...nobody does it better...

That Marianne looks quite a girl!!
(I know a Marianne and she is!)

warm wishes
x

Cait O'Connor said...

Bonjour,
I love your daily cheer-me-up blogs,
Merci,
Caitx

Suffolkmum said...

I missed the daily insights into your life so much while I was away!

Preseli Mags said...

Poor Marianne, what an unfortunate setting in which to fall out of your dress (and get captured by the paparazzi doing so). Brilliant blog, as ever. I was daydreaming in the bath this morning about moving to somewhere where it doesn't rain as much as it does in Wales. I thought of France, it sounds fun! xxxPM

Grouse said...

I thought they had got Sophia Loren to pose for the painting
M.L--- but no! Your secret is out...........you shameless hussie..............first exchanging communication with a strange american and now a painter's muse!!!!!!!

And how is poor Loic? Stiff with shock, still I'll be bound!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

It's like Coronation Street where you live!

FunkyMunky said...

Why does nothing this interesting ever happen where I live? I so enjoyed reading this.

Fennie said...

Splendid absolutely splendid - and I do so hope your ecclesiastical edifice is repaired by the Beaux Arts people or whatever may be their Breton equivalent. You never know when it may be needed to serve as a beacon - a blazing fire (again) lit at its top - to tell you all the Tour de France is on its way.

Incidentally, I hate to be a pedant but as I'm sure you know the picture celebrates the 1831 revolution rather than that of 1789, this revolution being the one that effectively saw off the restored Bourbon monarchy and reinstituted the Tricolour. The picture was painted by Delacroix, who almost certainly was Talleyrand's son (Delacroix senior being foreign minister and also impotent was demoted by both the government and by Mde Delacroix at the same time in favour of Talleyrand, who post Napoleon argued long, hard but unsuccessfully with the Bourbons to keep the revolutionary flag). It was about the only diplomatic battle that Talleyrand ever lost, though he went on fighting it for 15 years and eventually - in part thanks to this painting which he commissioned his son to paint (mysterious sums of money periodically arrived at the Delacroix studio) he was successful. However the painting was then promptly locked away in a vault by the authorities for an absolute age before being let out. It was, I suppose, considered a stray rocket that might land on anyone's ecclesiastical edifice and burn it down, too dangerous to go on display. Which just shows that history can be every bit as outrageously inventive as any of the Loufoque chronicles.

muddyboots said...

oh to be able to wave the union jack & celebrate our englishness without the being labelled as politically incorrect. perhaps we should have a cider, pork pie & cheddar day with very small flags......

Blossomcottage said...

Oh how I missed this even if it is only 6 days Well done, you really are the best.
Blossom

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Brilliant...and just what is my hero doing stuffed in the church wall?

lampworkbeader said...

Great stuff. Exciting story, politics and les pompiers. What more could a woman want?

Frances said...

How do you continue to keep this high standard of reportage?

Hoping that the electricity holds.

Knowing that your imagination will.

xo

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Oh dear echoes of the Purplecoo party and the burning down of yet another marquee . . . rushing on . .