I met Denis Poulot by the old lavoir as I ambled down to the Salle des Fetes. We’ve known each other for 24 years now; we’ve never been especially close but we share a relaxed camaraderie. We paused in our journeys to shake hands and exchange formalities, then carried on. Inevitably, this being Bastille Day, 14 July and we were both going to the ceremonial vin d’honneur, we chatted about Bastille Days past.
Denis drew up and looked into the distance. ‘It’s not the same any more.’
Molinot is a village deep in the Arriere Cote of Burgundy, has been a part of my life since 1993. In those days, the village was famous for the extravagance of its Bastille Day celebrations and people would come from miles away to enjoy them. Indeed, ours was so popular that many villages around had their celebrations on another day, since all the locals were at ours; and of course we reciprocated, making for a thoroughly convivial week.
Yesterday, the 7th of May 2017, will be long remembered. It is the day of the Fall of France.
This is not the first Fall of France. In 1940, German troops stormed through the Ardennes, completely surprising the French General Staff.
Nobody who has read Chester Wilmot’s ‘The Struggle for Europe’ can fail to recognise the similarities. In 1940, the French Establishment was represented by octogenarian and even nonagenarian generals. Their incompetence was complete. Counter attacks were so badly organised that battalions engaged on different days or in the wrong place. Communications were by carrier pigeon. The French armour, superior in numbers and quality to the German, was not allowed to operate freely, and instead was used as semi-mobile artillery for infantry support.
The result was that France capitulated. That was the first fall of France. An uneasy truce was declared, in which the Germans gave the French permission to govern themselves in territory not already under a German jackboot, but it didn’t last long; in 1942 the Germans assumed complete control.
I’m back from the Philippines again. As many of you will know, I’ve been going there every winter for the last few years.
I started in 2012, with a short 3-week stay; 2013 was longer, with a 6-week one. Then in 2014 I went for just under 4 months and in the next two years, just under 5 each, with this last being the longest. Although the last visit was not without its difficulties, I now know that I love the Phils. It seems like the place I always wanted to live but never knew where it was. Continue reading I’m back from the Philippines. And I don’t like that.→
I have begun wearing kilts again. I used to do this years ago but, erm, passage of time rendered them, uh, too small. Alack, the Fleming waistline now oscillates between 36 and 40 and those distant days of 32waist/32leg are long since departed. However, last year I bought a few more and now I wear them pretty much every day. And when I’m not wearing the kilt, I wear tartan trews.
Now what could possibly have spurred this aberrant behaviour? A sudden dose of ‘alt-fashion’ in the old fool’s noggin? A passionate longing for the owld country? Simple homesickness? Senility? Continue reading The English Don’t Wear Kilts→
Last week we had the first wedding in Molinot for five years. The Bride and groom have been together for years and decided to make it all official. It was a lovely event, very redolent of a rural France that is fast disappearing. Yes folks, la France Profonde is contracting. Soon it won’t be there at all.
Meantime it was nice to see an event like this, with all the colour, hilarity and distinctly earthy humour. This is the Arriere-Cote.
I don’t know when we’ll see the next wedding in Molinot, so better enjoy this one.