Thursday, September 13, 2012
Democracy at work.
Wednesday night. The village council meeting. The grass outside the salle des fetes a mass of tractors, white vans, battered Peugeots and a large combine harvester. Proceedings are scheduled to start at seven thirty but the mayor doesn't arrive until eight . A further twenty minutes before some semblance of order emerges. The mayor , resplendent in a new beige cardigan , takes his place on the stage. Madame mayor straightens his tie. Item one on the agenda, indeed the only item on the agenda, the ' removal of offensive wording ' from the frescoes in the church.
The very old farmer launches into an impromptu history of the French Republic. The deputy mayoress says something incomprehensible , and lengthy, about conciousness and the origins of life. The old farmer blames the socialists. The lady with the beehive hairdo wonders what right ' those folk in Paris ' have to dictate history. The man that sells lawnmowers complains about the price of petrol . The lady in the purple hat says her mother saw General de Gaulle in Toulouse in 1958. Monsieur Bay, republican fervour fuelled by two large glasses of armagnac on an empty stomach, sings the Marseillaise. Madame Bay in turqoise turban and what might be described as a fur jacket, if fur jackets were scarlet and shiny , looks on adoringly. Everyone starts to talk at once. The Jack Russells run in and out of the kitchen.
The meeting finishes , inconclusively , at ten thirty. Democracy at work.