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.
The broader media gave the story of how a young woman was set upon by five other women for sunbathing in a bikini in a park in Reims, France, some attention today and a few new titbits have come out. (I covered this yesterday.)
According to the national newspaper Le Monde, under the headline ‘Emotions and hasty conclusions’ the woman who was attacked is Angélique Slosse. Three of her alleged attackers have been named, Inès Nouri, Zohra Karim and Hadoune Tadjouri. The other two are minors and their names have not been released. All five are Muslim.
On Wednesday lunchtime, at the Léo-Lagrange Park near the town centre of Reims, France, a 21-year old woman was sunbathing with two of her friends, dressed in a bikini. This is perfectly normal and if you visit any park in France in summer, especially a hot one like this, you will see plenty of women wearing swimsuits getting a tan. It’s a French passion.
However, the woman, whose name has not been disclosed, was spotted by a ‘group of five girls’. One of the came over and told her to ‘Get dressed, it’s not summer.’
The sunbather replied that the newcomer was not ‘the religious police’ and at that point all five of the girls attacked the woman, requiring her to be hospitalised. She was signed off work for four days.
My neighbour was given this with a load of other bits and bobs. She thought it was a toy, but closer examination made me disagree. For a start, it was quite clearly a gun of some order, but it didn’t have any kind of handle. There wasn’t a conventional trigger either.
It might have been a toy cannon, but it didn’t have a carriage. Yet opening it up revealed that it was chambered to take a real twelve-bore shotgun cartridge. Plus it’s made of very heavy cast iron. It’s just not like a child’s toy at all.
Pork. It’s such a mainstay of French cuisine, that it’s frankly impossible to conceive of French food culture without it. Every thing from saucisson to saucisses, fried, grilled, cured, dried, you name it, the French have a way of eating pork like that.
Well, summer did finally arrive here in P’tit Moulin and the warm balmy days are back. I must say they are very welcome, and could have been here sooner. The girls are all out in their skimpiest dresses, to show off their golden-tanned skin and the boys…well, who cares about the boys anyway?
Napoleon was actually a tall guy. Did you know that? It’s true. The legend that the great conqueror of Europe was severely vertically challenged is just that—a legend. Maybe not quite an urban myth—I don’t think they had those back then—but nevertheless, a myth.
My friend Antoine the potter had a little incident with the Gendarmes from Bligny not long ago. Now before I begin this tale, I feel I should put to rest a belief that has become, apparently (according to my children,) current in the UK in the last few years.
This is that the Gendarmes in France are not real police. Well, they are, and this is a classic bit of Anglo-Saxon, er, confusion. I believe it has even been aired on that odious arch-slimeball Stephen Fry’s television show; not that that would make it any more the truth.
Tomato plants? Well, spring in France this year was the worst I can remember, and so far summer has not been much better. By this time I should be on first-name terms with the community of lizards that live in my courtyard, but this year, hardly a hello. They’re all still hiding.
Mind you, it’s not been so bad for all the critters in the yard. My pet hate, les limaces, our delightful Burgundian slugs, are positively thriving. I mean, these ones are not shy, they don’t even try to hide, and they’re bright orange anyway. Maybe it’s a warning that they taste disgusting. I’ll let someone else find out. What I do know is they like my tomato plants. Continue reading “Slugs and Snails and Tomato Plants?”
Ever wonder why French men watch the news? I did a piece a while ago about ‘Why Americans Go To Church’ which was stimulated by some or another piece of typical septic-tank arrogance but was really meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Kinda.
Anyway this is also meant to be a bit of fun. Did you ever wonder why it is that so many French men seem so very well versed in current affairs, news, and general what’s the buzz? It has nothing to do with the Bac de Philo or anything like that.