Added on Sunday 25 Oct 2009
August in France, as I am sure many readers know, is holiday time. The whole of France closes for the entire month! We are not immune to this but unfortunately we are at the other end of the system where we get surrounded by holiday makers and tourists, it also coincides with many administrative duties that must be carried out before the vast army of civil servants go that we have in France on their hols. to the seaside from Paris. This can include all sorts of appointments, information requests or any other thing that they can think about to make you worry about during the sunny months....I now know that most of this is done deliberately on their part but it does not make life any easier for anyone in rural France but it maybe makes them feel better while they lie on the beach. The threat of the guillotine is still always there!!
In between all this we had a very pleasant, but brief, visit from a friend of ours who has bought a house not far from us (not far in French terms anyway) and his new girlfriend who neither Fiona nor I had met before. Anne comes from Eaglesham where Fiona's mother used to have a boutique but Bill and Anne have been living down in Carlisle for quite a few years when he was the news editor of Cumbria Radio. Obviously Bill and I had quite a lot of catching up to do and as it was Fiona's birthday that weekend we all ended up in the Cafe de la Place for a meal on the Sunday night. This turned out to be an excellent choice as the evening was beautiful and the food was great as usual and we all had a wonderful time. In some ways we felt that it was too short a time to do all the catching up but in another way now that we know that they are not that far away means that we can do all the catching up in the future!
Apart from all this I have been doing my visits to the hospital, doctor and nurses and most recently a trip to Perigueux to a medical council in regard to my retiral, this was apparently to do with my pension from the UK, although nobody has told me anything about this, but then nobody has told me anything about my pensions from France, Germany, Holland and Canada. All this despite the fact that I officially retired last week! The funny thing was that the appointment was on my 65th birthday at the same time as I was asked if I would like to work in The Dordogne filming for a Paris agency...funny how things turn out! I still have to submit some work on this one but it does seem to fine as far as, they and I, are concerned. Like everything else in France we just need to wait and see. It would be rather ironic if after 4 years of disability and a retiral I suddenly have full time work which will take me back to what I was doing many years ago! And being paid handsomely as well. One can dream after all!
In the last few months one of the greatest American dancers and choreographers died. His name was Merce Cunningham. He was 92 and latterly in a wheel chair but not someone to complain.Far from it. Up until a few months ago he was preparing for a grand tour of several countries and completing new choreography. This style of contemporary dance is the one that I ( ie Fiona is speaking now ! ) learnt many years ago and taught eventually both in the UK as well as in France. I first saw his company in the 1980's in London and was amazed at his way of moving . Coming from a strict classical ballet upbringing, his work was revolutionary. The idea that the movement could be seen with " no fixed point in space " was and still is an exceptional idea. This plus being non narrative( the complete opposite in ballet ) was a whole different ball game. He founded his company back in the 1940's, the dancers poorly paid, if at all... but from there they became one of the world's greatest companies. The name Merce Cunningham becoming synonymous with the best in modern dance, invention,energy and the breaking of barriers.
Here in Salignac, in conjunction with Dance Base in Edinburgh, I paid tribute to him. At the same time( albeit 1 hours time difference in France ) I did a minute solo in silence at La Halle, the medieval open market. Using his ideas of chance procedures I improvised several movement phrases as well as having 7 fixed positions. Barry came to take photos, no doubt remembering when he himself took photos of Merce in 1987 in Glasgow at an interview at Scottish Ballet. I was too overcome by shyness I couldn't even speak to him !
Well, we have lost a great human being and we won't see the likes of him again. Like all the truly greats, he was also very modest. Iin his words " You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on the walls, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive " Sounds good to me.Thank you Merce.
Difficult times at the moment for me but none the less...Rural France ? I still love
c Barry Paton Oct 2009