Fiona Alderman: Happy New Year from Rural France
Thank goodness 2020 has gone, and what a year, let’s hope for better times this year. I didn’t write anything last month as it was a difficult time “chez nous”. I hope to be a bit more inspiring for readers this month.
It was a quiet Christmas but marked again by neighbours and friends’ gifts left at the door and cheery phone calls. So much appreciated and many unexpected presents too.
So much love and kindness.
Well Brexit has finally arrived and now what for us living here all the time? I wouldn’t like to be thinking of moving now, not even back to the UK. We will need a carte de sejour though to prove our continued residency. This will have to be sought, relatively simply I am told, but I need to renew our passports first. So it continues.
The village is quiet still, no bars or restaurants open as yet, but I sense there is a bit of defiance and annoyance at how long this confinement is continuing. Already President Macron succumbed to the virus and we all lost touch of what was happening in the country? Then there was a “rave”party in Brittany at the New Year where youngsters were again defying authority.
The vaccine is being rolled out now but in certain regions only, and with the care homes and carers at the foremost. However, some French people I have spoken to are very wary of having this vaccine. Fear is uppermost in their minds as to how it will be employed. A new curfew has been put in place too, from 6pm and 6 am. Finishing work, for instance at 5 30, you could be fined 135 euros and if you don’t pay, 375 euros will be the penalty. Dog walking at this time though is allowed but with a special certificate.
Health is above all the most important thing but people, including me, are fed up with the mask wearing, if you wear glasses as I do, they steam up. Also I miss seeing the face and the expression on it, plus of course a little hug and a kiss. Bonne Annee and the reply is Et surtout la sante.
Miles in France
Miles David, the legendary American trumpeter, performed his last gig in France before he died in 1991 at the Gironde in Bordeaux. The Andernos Jazz Festival is one of the biggest summer festivals. I recently re read an article on him which was full of praise – he had always been held in high esteem by the French. Perhaps even more than in his own country. He was awarded Grande Medaille de Vermeille in 1989 by the future President Jacques Chirac. Then in 1991 received the Legion d’Honneur the highest award possible in France.
This last farewell concert was one of many, but this one was anticipated with some trepidation but also pride and delight to see one of the most iconic of figures in the world of jazz – along with his loyal musicians, equally talented, Marcus Miller, Kenny Garrett, Joseph Foley McCreary and Joe Zawinul, who would back Miles superbly. Just before midnight, the man would arrive, with customary black glasses, hair long and curly, wearing a brightly luminous patterned jacket, black polka dotted trousers, “jazzy” cuban heeled shoes – an elegance, which was total and about his own unique style.
As usual, his stage presence would enflame everyone, from musicians to audience, with the first notes put in place by Miles setting the ball rolling.
As was customary, his stance was towards the musicians and rarely towards the audience. He would play what he wanted and when. Always consumed, amazingly by stage fright, he would almost battle with the instrument, a mistress to be tamed, but with passion and love too. He would die only two months after this concert. Jack Lang, the then Arts/ Culture Minister, would call him the Picasso of Jazz. Very true. Then the musicians who had played with Miles like David Sanborn, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter took the music onwards and in different directions. Just what Miles Davis would have wanted.
(“La petite maison dans le champs … en noir et blanc et au carré” by Jean-Marie HUET is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
I saw an article recently and thought it would be nice to share with you. It was about little houses that are made economically and the French love them! A whole new way of living, simple and adaptable to your needs, also responding to the environment in a very positive way.
First created in America in the 1900’s, during the Depression, when people were forced out on the streets, they were built on part of a car, on wheels some even had a little porch at the side.
Now, more sophisticated and with every utility, they are built on a trailer, and so are transportable, giving you freedom to move where you wish. A permit is needed to lodge somewhere, but the idea is very appealing, and a lot of young people have adopted this alternative way of life.
Made of wood, with a steel roof that can be flat or sloping, with a mezzanine level, you would need to be tidy as every bit of space counts.They cost from 29,000 euros and upwards depending again on your needs. Sounds good. I would need a massive clear out here to fit myself into one, but probably very therapeutic?
Take care and keep well.
Fifi’s stories from rural France.
www.salignacfoundation.com Short courses in dance and film SW France.
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