Blogging from rural France: Fiona Alderman, All the President’s women

Fifi’s Story from Rural France

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All the President’s women.

I have to begin this months article with the news on Monsieur Hollande and his affairs of the heart. He was known as le President Normal but he has really done the mal part rather splendidly! Even French people were shocked to find this rather insipid looking man cheating on the First Lady with a young blonde actress in the Rue du Cirque. Very aptly named. Already he had left his partner Ségolène Royal, the mother of his 4 children to live with the beautiful journalist Valerie Trierweiler. The claws were out with these two women and the rivalry that ensued. However the little actress was waiting in the wings all along and she played her part to perfection. She had in fact become involved with him for nearly two years beforehand helping him along in his political life. He gave a public conference when all had come out in the open and was severely told he must speak about the rupture with Valerie to the press. However as French privacy laws are very different in France he was decidedly not for telling. Nothing is new in this type of business in France where politics and power are a heady mix.

So what becomes of Mademoiselle Trierweiler? After a big “rest” in an exclusive hospital she decides to be discreet. For the moment she is not telling either , but I believe she will be writing a best seller soon!

He has not been a very popular President in terms of his polltical views and policies. Even Sarkosy, himself no stranger to controversy, is now looking a better candidate and there are reports of his come back in a few years time and the re-election. The French love a good debate however, and this story will continue to have repercussions on the country and its “joie de vivre”. PS There are now rumours that the President and his girlfriend are getting married this summer, so we wait with bated breath for the next scoop!

lydieLydie the hairdresser 

We used to have three hairdressers in this village which always seemed quite amazing to me, and they all had a story to tell. One was Claudio, an Italian, who was a character and a half.

Voluble and a charmer to boot, he had the ladies all over him, but things got a bit out of hand when he was arrested for possession of arms and perhaps drug dealing and he was sent to prison. I haven’t seen him now for a long time. Where did he end up? Jean- Pierre another hairdresser , I have already talked about as he is now Monsieur Chip man. In his travelling chip van he is doing very well finely cutting these marvellous chips. Lydie is the only one left and I have been going to her for a few years now. A thorough professional and likeable as well, she is not one for a lot of chat whilst doing your hair which is great as I like to relax and switch off when I go there. It is based in a little house and is quite old fashioned. The old hooded hairdryers and old sinks are functional and charming making it cosy rather than ultra modern. She is always busy and it is where the women getting their little French perms gather to gossip with one another. I try to listen in and discover what is going on! Going to a hairdresser in France can be daunting and I remember the first time I did it here. New vocabulary had to be learnt quickly to know what to ask for and what not to have! Luckily I just wanted a “coupe et brushing” ie a cut and blow dry, which isn’t too difficult to understand but “permanents, couleurs, garçonne (a cropped boyish cut) et forfaits” are not for me.

reading newspaperEvery picture tells a story 

We were recently at the re-opening of le café/tabac in the village. I think I spoke about this last time that our favourite Café de la Place owners were leaving to set up shop in the other and only café. Lots of changes afoot and we still can’t understand why? Except that it is a money spinner in that it encompasses not just the bar but the loto , the P.M.U (horses)  and the tobacconist. They have had a steep learning curve to understand all that is required in this type of business,and not just selling beer.Lilian (the owner) was telling us that the administration was doing his head in and he was looking very tired. He and his wife Cécile  are a great couple, hardworking and professional but the signs of strain are beginning to show. We have known them now of course for 14 years and they welcomed us without question. The photo above, is of another man who has always been pleasant and helpful. Michel is one of 4 brothers in their family building construction business in Salignac. He was in for a quick “demi” ie half pint to read his “journal” after a busy day. Barry caught him on camera and he was sitting underneath this lovely rugby picture. This area is noted for its rugby, notably with Brive that is an International team and Michel is on the committee of the local team here. He was also a keen player himself. The 5 Nations rugby matches are on the TV at the moment and of course we want Scotland to do well, but now my heart is a little divided for France. Vive L’Ecosse et Vive La France.!

 end of an eraThe end of an era

I have been teaching and performing Contemporary dance for over 35 years now and am still learning, I feel, with my students today. Locally, I do a weekly dance class called “L’Expression Corporelle” a grand title that just encompasses the body’s expression and the different ways of moving. I teach it in French or rather I try to! It is quite hard as my way of teaching has always been one of observation – gently correcting mistakes, and also with humour. I have never shouted or made someone feel bad as I remember having a few teachers myself like that in London and it just makes it worse. You just freeze up and cannot control anything. At the moment I have several ladies who are all at a different level from a complete beginner to someone who is quite experienced. I have to give simple excercises and also try to move them on too for the more advanced people. There is also a peculiar problem of them talking during the class! I have got used to it now, but before it bothered me as to why? It is not disrespect, in fact just the opposite. They discuss between them as they perform the exercises to encourage each other I suppose. In doing so though they don’t listen to the music properly and are often way off the beat which is awful for me!! However we have a laugh about it as this is the main thing to come and switch off from the daily problems and worries and to just enjoy moving in the space.

One of my favourite teachers many years ago in London was Alan Clayden, who was a marvellous man and who transmitted to us his passion for dance and all the art forms in relation to it. He was also an artist and sculptor. He made many pieces of choreography for me and this is depicted in this photo. When I left to come back to Glasgow, he gave me a tambourine that he used in class and which I now use here in France. For him it was the end of an era, time to move on but not to forget great memories. He died just a few months ago and this made me very sad but I do think of him and his wisdom when I take a class now. He is still dancing up there I think!

basket last paraMore French quirks.

 Just to finish up with here are a few funny expressions. When we say someone has a frog in the throat it is already unusual but in French it is “un chat dans la gorge” ie a cat in the throat!


One we all know now is a pleb, but in French it is” un plouk” which is an equally wonderful word. The beauties of language. I leave you on this Valentine’s Day with good wishes and “bisous” ie kisses from France.
February 2014. Fifi’s story from a rural village in SW. France.

Fiona Alderman blogging from rural France: Springtime in Salignac
A New Year's Letter from France, Fiona Alderman

This section: Fiona Alderman blogging from The Salignac Foundation France

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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