Monday, November 12, 2012

Armistice Day.





Armistice Day. The mairie in the little market town festooned with tricolores. Up here on the ridge  the village memorial service is supposed to start at 10.55. It starts at 11.19. The mayor arrives on time only to discover that he's forgotten to bring with him the government letter that all French mayors are obliged to read. He goes home in his little Renault to get it. When he returns he finds that he's left his reading glasses on the kitchen table. Madame Mayor is despatched to get them. While we wait Angus is suprised to see that the large reels of red electrical tubing are still piled up in the centre of the village green. Plus ca change ....

Finally, we're ready. Sixty or so villagers in attendance. Not bad in a village with a total population of sixty seven. The mayor - resplendent in pork pie hat, blazer and  grey crimplene trousers - mumbles his speech. Then he slowly reads the familiar names on the war memorial. After each name the crowd replies '' mort pour la France  ". First on the list the mayors great grandfather. 37 names in total. The little lady in the purple hat sings the national anthem, her tremulous voice rising sparrow like into the morning air. The Marseillaise sung, as it is every year, slowly. More like the tenderest of love songs than a martial anthem. A minutes silence. Madame Bay, being Madame Bay, dabs her eyes with a handkerchief. Then the mayor turns to the crowd, smiles and says '' the same time next year ? .

'' Perhaps there's time for a quick glass of champagne ? " says the mayor to ' the font '.  The last of our visitors go at 1.30. Life in deepest France profonde.






10 comments:

  1. Assuming that's 1:30 pm not am?

    ReplyDelete
  2. No mention of the 'sale Boche'? We think the village looks to you and the font as the social directors.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

    ReplyDelete
  3. You seem to be responsable for private entertaining after funerals, services, etc. Have to think about it when I move to my next place... love from §Soutern Italy Susanne, Daisy, Foxiie and Kirigirigigi

    ReplyDelete
  4. I find it somewhat rude how the mayor invites himself over to your house without prior discussion. In this case seems like others followed his lead too.
    You may have to put a delicate stop to this tradition...."mort pour Angus"...except your wine cellar is filled for the long haul....smile.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I suspect your farmhouse is the gathering place for the after parties?

    ReplyDelete
  6. How delightful that the mayor seeks your company after an important yearly remembrance (and other times). Time in your village seems to be a relative thing, which is fine most days.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What would the mayor do without your supply of champagne? It sounds like a lovely service, even if it was done on the typical time table!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I commend you and the Font. Your kindness and generous spirit must make quite a difference in your village, in fact it does the same here for us.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Is Armistice Day there limited to honoring the dead of WWI? Here, Veteran's Day honors all our military dead, at least from the 20th and 21st centuries. Although the burials in Arlington National Cemetery go back to the Civil War and they may get little flags on their often communal graves as well. Have to check that out. Think the Spanish American War graves get flags, too.

    ReplyDelete