All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Ah, yes, I remember it well

Maurice ChevalierImage by Truus, Bob & Jan too! via Flickr

I know I am old because I can now remember what my cousin Hugh said to make me so upset when I was three. The memory of the upset had lingered, and I knew it involved frilly knickers and a pond, but only now has the full, unexpurgated version returned. So I must be old.
Memories of the France I moved to are clear and always have been, so I'm not sure whether they will stay clear or whether they will be assimilated to the recent period and disappear as I get older and concentrate on the events of childhood as yet unrevealed to me. I hope not, as it was a happy time.
People smoked, drank and drove cars that fell apart if they went over thirty kilometres an hour. Naked women jumped from windows and fled through the vines as their husbands returned unexpectedly early from market. Gendarmes had a bar in their barracks and were much better tempered in consequence. Papy up the road cooked in a cauldron and had a pornography collection which was the envy of several communes around. The man with the three wheeled tractor had not been driven from the roads. Jules slaughtered his own sheep and I could buy the meat. The old people got together in the winter evenings to play cards, knit and tell stories. Andre was soaking blackcurrant branches in his wine to make it taste better. Lawyers went on strike and defendants were left to make up their own stories. Monsieur Untel was cleaning his drains with eau de vie. There were eight bars in the commune and a cafe which was cheap and good. There wasn't a Parisian, an artist or an antique dealer in the area.
As that great collaborator used to sing
'Ah, yes, I remember it well.'

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  1. How lucky were you! Or is it luck to see that disappear? Yes, I think it is, to have experienced it. There were vestiges of that when I moved to Spain 20 years ago (which is why I chose Spain, not France, which seemed to have moved on by then). You'd have to look very hard now to find it.

  2. Pueblo girl, lucky to have had it, sorry to see it go, you're right.
    Now life seems to be stifled by endless regulations..gone are the days of planning permisssion requested with a sketch on a fag packet. Can't say the results are any better, just cost more and take longer.

  3. Fly, what great memories, you should be writing your memoirs. My sister was born when I was three and I've always remembered exactly what my mum was wearing when she came home from the maternity hospital carrying her new baby (such was the shock of no longer being the only one, I suppose - or maybe three is just a very impressionable age).

  4. Michele, I was an only, so never usurped in the family's only recently that childhood things have floated to the surface, so I imagine that Alzheimers is not far away...

  5. I think we should be told the story of the frilly knickers and the pond, before the speculation keeps us awake. I remember someone leaving the nursery door open when I was sitting on a potty, and my older cousins making fun of me. One is now a merchant banker and the other a barrister, while I'm...not. So you can see how it scarred me.

  6. Brother Tobias, you are right. Once a detail is revealed to the (small) world, there is a right to full disclosure. If only politicians would abide by this rule....
    I had been wading in the pond, unsupervised hordes of fanatical social workers in those days....on a day when my mother had dressed me for company...and had plonked myself down in the water, three year old style, the legs giving out. Knowing that there would be repercussions, I had removed the knickers and was wringing them out when Hugh saw fit to remark that I was a 'right wee whore like your mother'.
    The first part of the sentence passed me by, but the comparison with my mother was too much for my sensibilities and I howled.

  7. Aaah...a gentle walk down memory lane. Those were the days. Bring 'em back!

    Fly...Can you e-mail me please? My e-mail is on my blog. Sorry to have to ask. I'll explain why in the e-mail. :)

  8. HT...will do. I'd thought about asking you to e mail me, too, but couldn't work out how to put it on!

    My cousin Hugh is mortified by my reply to Brother Tobias.....probably fearing a visit from mother with her zimmer frame....

  9. French Fancy, I would love to, but I don't know anyone in the media, publishing, etc. and from what I see, the successfully published are the well connected. Someone pulled my plug years ago.