Repas des Anciens

Today was the occasion of another Repas des Anciens – a meal, loads of alcohol and entertainment laid on by the village for it’s older inhabitants.

Bear was not feeling well because of a bad cold but he said he wanted me to go along without him. I didn’t need twice telling.

After making sure that he was tucked up with Lemsip, Vicks rub, cough sweets and a light lunch of scrambled egg and bread and butter, followed by a fresh orange I set off for the Salle des Fetes.

The new Maire was waiting at the entrance to greet  everyone. Her hand was bandaged and I asked what had happened.

“I fell over outside your house.” she explained. “The dog pulled me over.”

It seems she looks after the boys next-door-but-one (their mother is her niece) from time to time.

The tables were arranged in a U shape as always but there weren’t nearly as many places as usual. (Mme S hinted that the previous Maire had lots of friends and relatives among the retired inhabitants and they were boycotting this event.) Another noticeable difference was that the folk on the ‘top table’ did much of the serving, making sure we all had plenty of wine, water and bread and even bringing round the meal and clearing the dirty plates.

Was this because  they had less than two weeks to organise this event (because of the change in regime) or is it a sign of a change in attitude? The previous Maire and his lady always arrived last and made the rounds of greeting the guests when they were already seated at the tables. They were sociable and friendly but would not have been likely to play waiter and waitress.

One thing that never changes at these occasions is the array of little pill boxes – or just little groups of tablets – beside many of the plates. It’s amazing how many people swallow their medicine with wine rather than water.

Today’s entertainment was a trio – lady accordeonist/singer and two chaps on drums and guitar/keyboard. Someone once said to me that a definition of a musician was ‘a person who knew how to play the accordeon but didn’t.’

He should have heard the lady this afternoon. She was a suberb musician, able to play anything from Strauss to jazz with feeling and expression. She also had a very good, contralto voice but with the ability to sing high notes in a kind of falsetto.

Perhaps this is an appropriate moment to say a few words about French dancing. Even when I was able to risk the dancefloor I couldn’t get the hang of the dances. Waltzes seem to be at the dizzy tempo of a Viennese waltz and the tango bears no resemblance to the version I learned many years ago at Norman’s school of dancing. The third dance that seems popular is the Paso Doblé. I never learned that so am in no position to comment.

However, I have been watching carefully to try to work out the steps. They seem relatively starightforward but not everyone seems to do the same ones. And yet they can dance with different partners without tripping each other up so there must a pattern to it somewhere – or else the men have a particularly strong lead. But  with my flippin’ knee problems I’m not likely to do much dancing now so it’s not likely I’ll find out.

Fortunately I can still appreciate a good meal.

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3 Responses to “Repas des Anciens”

  1. Keith Says:

    Sounds great Sandy. I wish the the Mayor, or even the Council, or in fact anyone here would organise something like that for the old folk here. It is left to the local public houses to arrange a Christmas Dinner for their old patrons. If you don’t frequent the “local” then you don’t get an invite!

    If fact in Leicester itself, which has a high aging Muslim population, the local Imams and Elders from the Mosques do frequently organise meals and outings for their old folks.

  2. sablonneuse Says:

    As you say, Keith, they don’t do that sort of thing in England. We were amazed when we received the first invitation and even more surprised to find it was free. What’s more the food and wine are excellent, not to mention copious, and the entertainers are also top quality.

  3. canisfamiliaris Says:

    Can’t see our local council organising something like this – unless it’s a jolly for the ‘old boy network’!!

    derek

    It seems that lots of communes arrange things like this for the ‘oldies’. Usually it’s just meals but sometimes it’s outings.

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