Fiona Alderman: One September in Salignac
Another crazy time here in “sleepy” Salignac. Everyone thinks it’s a doddle living in a beautiful French village but in fact it it’s like everywhere else I think. From shouting neighbours , dogs and cats wandering about, seemingly abandoned even though I know most of where they live , to people taken into the psychiatric hospital , it is certainly not quiet.
The village has however wound down after the summer season, and there are now the “ Silver Surfers “ the more elderly generation, who come for their holidays. The weather is lovely at this time of year, the colours are beautiful as is the light, which is softer and calmer. It is a real Indian summer. The cafés are open and we recently sat having a glass or two of rosé wine reflecting on life, as you do. Nearly 18 years since we came here and how quickly it has passed. We have met some extraordinary people too and shared a lot of stories and laughter. I look after a gîte for Dutch people here and each Saturday there are changeovers and new people to meet. A few weeks ago there was a mother and daughter who came to visit and we got chatting. The mother had been in a Vietnamese concentration camp , but was such a character, full of “joie de vivre “ and humour. We also met a sweet Scottish couple , on holiday with their young baby , and when she heard me speak, she said ”eh, yure Scottish aren’t you? “ He was from Broughty Ferry and she was from East Kilbride and they had lived for a time in Shanghai, who says the Scots don’t travel?
We are sitting by the pool
In fact we are not, as we don’t have one. However, I have a little sign that I bought many years ago in London, and it is a source of amusement to people passing our door. If we could have received a euro each time someone commented on it we might be rich. However, all this leads to a famous French film called “ La Piscine” (1968) with the handsome heart throb Alain Delon. He plays a man entangled in a complicated relationship with his partner played by the exquisite actress Romy Schneider. It is a film about sexual possessiveness and jealousy centred around 4 main characters. It is set in a villa overlooking la Côte D’Azur with a gigantic pool dominating the scenes. All is well before a former lover of the Romy Schneider character (Marianne) turns up with his beautiful daughter and in true French style, who will pair up with who! The daughter, Pénelope , was played by English actress Jane Birkin, and this was her first major role . The two characters , Delon and her, tease and flirt with each other and you sense something is going to happen with them.
The other two , who had been former lovers , see what is happening under their eyes , and so it continues, until one night when the two men get drunk and “Harry”, Maurice Ronet, falls into the pool but Delon does not save him and instead pushes him under. He tries to make it look like an accident, and what follows is both clever and also macabre. I urge you to look at it if you don’t know it.
Alain Delon is a much loved actor here in France , still fascinating to watch with a penetrating stare that glues you to the screen. He is 81 now and just about to finish his final two film and play projects before leaving the stage. He is also a very successful businessman, owning thoroughbred horses to endorsing brands of perfume and spectacles.
He says he cannot watch “La Piscine “ anymore because the two actors Maurice Ronet and Romy Schneider, who had been his lover and companion in real life, had both died under tragic circumstances.
The Book Box
I saw a man digging a hole here recently and didn’t think anything about it, until the next day there was a little wooden box standing there. How curious? It is a book box, made for giving in books and replacing them with others. You can pass on your unwanted books for someone else to enjoy, or not as the case may be. It is tiny though and reminds me of a bird box. A small box for a small village? I have seen them in neighbouring towns and they are quite fancy glassed in affairs, much bigger than this one. I have done my duty and put some books in but have never, as yet, seen anyone using it . So French.
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