Fiona Alderman blogging from Rural France – time is marching on


Local News from Salignac

A strange time here with one thing and another. The village is quiet before the mad rush for Christmas starts. I am thinking what a year it has been and how quickly time goes by.

We have had health issues and we seem never to be away from waiting rooms and hospitals so that I feel I have acquired a new skill as ” medical secretary” co-ordinating the numerous appointments.
The local medical centre has been undergoing changes too and we hope to have a new doctor starting work next month.T his will be a real godsend as it is so much needed in a rural community like this.There are already two separate nurses’ offices and they are both overbooked. We have a Polish doctor and a part time one who is Bulgarian, very International here!
My lovely people at the corner shop L ‘ Epicier took their annual weeks holiday recently. They work so hard and certainly deserve a little rest. I didn’t however expect a postcard from them from Alsace where they were staying. How lovely and much appreciated. They recently acquired a beautiful old grandfather clock from Pascal’s father who sadly died last year, and it ticks slowly and surely reminding us that time is passing. It chimes on the hour too which at first took me by surprise as it was quite loud!
Neighbours have been wonderful too, offering help when I needed to visit the hospital, and often dropping in with gifts. In this street alone I know English, French and Dutch people. We are of course talking about Brexit and how it might affect us? Again there is delay
with no real idea what will happen. We may need to apply for French Nationality which requires a tough exam on everything French , something I am not sure every French person might know?
A lot of British people have already gone back to the UK, but my friends here are waiting and watching. The local Mairie  however, has no information on the subject.
le ballon rouge

Le Ballon Rouge (1956)

Looking out my front door one morning I saw a blue balloon on the ground. First of all where had it come from and secondly it reminded me of the film so long ago now, called The Red Balloon.
A charming short film ,without words, set in the streets of Paris about a lonely little boy who befriends a shimmering red balloon. He takes it to school and it waits outside the window for him, he meets a little girl who has a blue balloon and the exchange between all four is beautiful. Lifelike and touching, it shows a simple world that can show hope and a better future.
It featured the 5 yr old son of the Director,and also his daughter who played the little girl with the blue balloon. Albert Lamourisse, apparently a true perfectionist, had almost 42 versions of his film before he was happy with it and he was also the producer as well as the writer.
The film is set in post war France , a bit run down and grey looking,so the red balloon shines even more brightly. The story continues with the balloon becoming more insistant ,following his young friend everywhere, even to the church where he is shooed out. However the local gangs are waiting, envious of this complicity between the boy and balloon, they try to steal it.Pascal,the little boy rescues it and a chase begins but ends badly. The gang of boys take sling shots at the balloon and eventually crush it.When this happens, all the other balloons in Paris come to Pascal’s rescue, a huge wave of colour to lift him high up over the roof tops of Paris.
People have long theorised about the meaning of the film and whether there was a religious element to it but in any case it is still remarkable even today. It won many awards, including the Cannes Film Festival, British Academy of Film and Television and an Oscar for the best screenplay.
A book was published in 1957, using black and white and colour stills from the film. It added words,and was acclaimed by The New York Times as the best children’s book of the year.
And to finish. The blue balloon outside our door? Maybe it was lost from a children’s party ,who knows?

The French Painting

A small painting found in an old woman’s kitchen in the North of France was found to be a rare treasure and fetched nearly 25 million euros. Found in her house when she decided to sell it, she thought it was just a Greek religious icon and had it for years hanging over her cooker collecting a good amount of dirt and grease. When the auctioneers first valued it, believing it was a Cimabue, the father of Renaissance painting, it was worth already between 4 to 6 million euros but sold for far more.
Dated from 1280, it is just 10 by 8 inches in size, and is part of a tryptic series of paintings the artist did of the Crucifixion of Christ. Called “Christ Mocked”, it has a gold background and part of its original frame and it was certainly a huge surprise to both the old woman and the International art world. The others of the series are housed in The National Gallery in London and in a private collection in New York.
The lady, already in her 90’s, will receive the majority of the money. Wow, what will she do?
The painting will be in a private collection but maybe lent to different galleries in the future.What a story and a nice Christmas treat for Madame.
Until next time.From Fifi’s stories from rural France.
November, 2019.
The Salignac Foundation Short courses in dance and film SW Dordogne.
Fiona Alderman Christmas in Salignac
Fiona Alderman: The Lady in Black

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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