Fiona Alderman: France at War
Before I start my monthly article I must pay my respects to the families and friends of those who have died in the recent Paris attacks. So soon after “Charlie Hebdo” and the country is again reeling with mixed emotions. One of those is undoubtedly fear, which has to be recognized and dealt with. The French people will stand up and recite their words of freedom, la liberté, egalité et fraternité, because if we bow to this fear the terrorists will have procured exactly what they wanted .
Memories of Josephine
Each month I thought I would pay a little tribute to a famous French person, either dead or still living. 40 years ago, the Black Venus, as she was called, Josephine Baker died. She was a music hall artiste famous for her “exotic” style of dancing. Glamorous and talented she wowed Paris in the 40’s and 50’s.During the war however, she worked with the Resistance in France, using her notoriety to gain information and to transport secret messages within her exquisite stage gowns. She was later decorated with the Legion d’Honneur for her bravery.
Sadly, she couldn’t have children herself, and so she adopted 12 children , The Rainbow Tribe, as they were known , because of all their different colours of skin and nationality. She bought Chateau des Milandes, in the Dordogne, in 1947 where she installed her tribe , to prove that we can all live together no matter what race or colour.
This chateau and its surrounding pretty village became a tourist complex, with a luxury hotel, restaurant, theatre and theme park. It continues today and is one of the most visited places in the Dordogne. It houses a museum dedicated to her and those wonderful stage costumes.
The final years before her death were not easy for her. Crippled by debts she barricaded herself into her chateau which had finally to be sold , and she declined further into ill health dying of a cerebral hemorrhage at only 69. She is still remembered as the generous lady of Milandes and is sadly missed for her “joie de vivre”.
A final word
This must go to the pianist who came all the way over from Germany in his van, 400 miles or so, to play an emotional “Imagine” for the French people. His name is Davide Martello and he goes all around the world with his self made piano to give a very sensitive rendering of music to all war or troubled spots. I came upon it by chance , when watching the news the next day after the attack. A tall striking figure playing John Lennon’s song , it was extremely moving. He is on Youtube and I think he deserves a big MERCI!
Well I finish this month’s article with a slightly heavy heart for the future of France and equally all countries concerned, but am confident that these terrorists will be dealt with and we will continue to live our lives as we should.
Fifi’s story from rural France. November 2015. www.salignacfoundation.com Dance and film courses in the Dordogne SW France.
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