After the lady from the Ministry finishes her speech it's time for the handing out of the awards for the village ' happy garden ' competition. Every year the villagers are invited to submit photographs of their gardens to the mayor for judging. There was a time when there were 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes but the competition for the top slots caused such bitter inter-communal feuding that now all gardens are considered equal. Everyone who enters receives a medal and a small paper bag containing a bottle of wine and one of Madame Mayors dried vegetable arrangements. This year 15 medals and paper bags are to be handed out. Liberte, egalite and just a hint of fraternite.
Being rural France theatricality is in the air. The Oscars have nothing on the ' happy gardens ' award ceremony. A beturbaned Madame Bay receives hers with a tearful '' thank you, thank you, thank you ". She takes the medal from the lady in the white suit and makes a strange up and down movement that could have been a curtsy. The Marge Simpson lookalike with the beehive hairdo tells us she is '' honoured. Deeply honoured ". The very old farmer, who has submitted a photo of six nicotina plants in a pot , turns to kiss the lady from the ministry but the mayor skillfully interposes himself between them. A look of unadulterated terror can briefly be seen on the dignitaries face .
Then it's all over. All the medals handed out. The bigwigs quickly depart. Perhaps just a tad too quickly. The extremely tall, thin young man in the suit with drainpipe trousers positively sprinting out of the Salle des Fetes and into the back of one of the large Peugeot limousines. The mayor turns to ' the font ' and and says ' I think that went well '. The very old farmer knowingly informs us that the Parisienne in the white suit was ' his sort of woman'.
As we walk back across the village green we both agree. It may not be perfect but it's home .