I have been packing away some of my summer clothes and shoes and looking at my favourites, the espadrilles. So comfortable to wear and they look pretty cool too. I see everyone wearing them, men and women, and their simple but effective shape is most attractive. Originally worn by the peasants in the Pyrenees region in the 14th century, espadrilles is a French word of the Occitan/ Catalan language.
The soles are very strong and made in jute from Bangladesh which is the highest seller in the world for its unique quality. The canvas uppers are made in Spain and come in every colour and design. There are high wedged espadrilles too, often with lacing around the ankle which is very fashionable in the summer. They became designer items when the couturier Yves St Laurent gave them another dimension adding sequins and his monogram YVSL. They can cost up to 500 dollars in New York! I got mine from the local shop for just 7 Euros.
Since I was quite young, I listened to jazz music because of my parents liking for it, and it is where I first heard about Stephane Grappelli. A French violinist of such a talent , beginning at the age of 12 and learning to play in the streets of Paris. It was while he was later busking to earn a living, that he was spotted by another elderly violinist who asked him if he would accompany him for the music of silent films. On meeting the gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt in his caravan, and they would form in 1934, the Quintette du Hot Club de France which would become legendary. His style of playing, with his quickness and the fingers dancing over the strings was always accompanied by his little cheeky look of “See what I can do ?” He later met Martin Taylor, the wonderful Scottish guitar player and they would form a very successful trio with Marc Fosset and Patrice Caratini.
Barry tells me that he photographed him many years ago in Paris, and when he came to Glasgow in the 90’s for a concert at the International Jazz Festival , he went back to photograph him. Apparently this great man remembered him! Grappelli continued to play well into his 80’s, with some of the greatest musicians, including Yehudi Menuhin and Julian Lloyd Webber.
He was named “ the grandfather of the jazz violinists” – he died in 1997 after a hernia operation. Sadly missed.
The lady who lives in the chateau in Salignac, la chatelaine as she is known, came up to the house a few weeks ago bearing a little ball of black fur. A sweet kitten who had been abandoned she thought. She couldn’t keep it but thought of me as she knew we liked cats. We have named him Jacques and he is winning us all over by his antics. One of our other cats , a male, seems to have adopted him and they have a great time playing together. However, I feel rather like the concierge with all the opening and shutting of doors and surveying everything.It is constant!
The word concierge springs up an image to me of an elderly woman , checking up on the comings and goings of the building. She would be the guardian and employed to receive mail, hand over keys and relay information when required. In the 19th century in Paris, the concierge would have an apartment on the ground floor and would be ever watchful of all her neighbours.
I am now off to survey the cats food on their particular favourite plates!
That’s all for this month from “Fifi’s story from rural France”
Dance and film courses in the Dordogne.