Image via WikipediaOver at St. Supplice they are having a get together....continuing - or reinventing - the old Ash Wednesday tradition of eating salt cod. Not, of course, on Ash Wednesday as the black cassocked one kicked up stink about anything that might resemble jollity taking place on such a day. In his view jollity is for Easter and only to be consumed in moderation. And then confessed to. Privately. In the confessionals which he has had refurbished in the churches under his sway.
It's a good job he wasn't around a few years ago when life at St. Supplice was a bit more colourful....Jules used to reckon that it was nothing to do with Vatican II that the congregation did a sort of joint confession rather than frequenting the musty interior of the confessional, it was more that the black cassocked one's predeccessor was having too many lurid dreams after his stint in the box and feared for his soul.
Since those were the days when Denise was strutting her stuff in the vines, the bar boasted three generations of prostitute - a bit like running into Hecate when you nipped in for the racing paper - and the only lending library in the commune was Papy's collection of pornography, Jules might have had a point.
Still, as the black cassocked one is showing his Lenten disapproval by not attending, it promises to be a good evening.
It's going to be organised in the traditional way. The commune is providing the wine, you pay a few euros for the main course and you bring your own starter, pud, cheese, bread and implements. Plus cards or board games for after the meal. You'll be sitting on benches at long tables, so you don't know who you'll get as a neighbour and the only sure thing is that someone will try to teach me belote again and will fail.
The salt cod will be traditional too. Lumps of the stuff that have been sitting under a running tap for twenty four hours before being cooked, accompanied by boiled potatoes, Mme. Machin's legendary sauce and served direct from the cooking trays borrowed from the school canteen.
Nothing fancy, not expensive and a good night out.
Closer at hand, at Ste. Conasse, the British immigrant comunity are running their version in aid of charity. I haven't seen any flyers, it all goes by word of mouth, so I only know about it because the postlady's colleague who does the Ste. Conasse round asked her if I was going.
I telephoned the woman who runs everything that way to ask about it - by now I really fancy salt cod and it's a damn sight closer than St. Supplice, after all - and was told that it was booked out.
What would I have been having if I had have been having?
A fully catered affair at fifteen euros with the salt cod manifesting itself as brandade de morue, and wine available at seven euros a bottle. There would be a quiz night to follow, with an entry fee.
What was the charity?
We'll get everyone to suggest something and the committee will decide.
Well, St. Supplice it is then.
I'll be checking the map to make sure I keep to the backroads and the occasional track through the vines for the return as if I know it's on, so will the gendarmerie.