France: a Final Frontier

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil: otherwise known as 'the three monkeys'

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil: otherwise known as 'the three monkeys'

You have obviously enjoyed reading my wandering wonderings so far about France – thanks for the feedback; the page clicks rocketed to nearly 1000 yesterday, and from all over the world, e.g. Canada, Cambodia, Australia, Russia, Egypt, Jamaica, Brazil, South Africa, as well as closer to home in Europe of course.

Of course it’s not been just about France really, it’s also about what God is doing in us, and in peculiar old me in particular, and I’m not sure why you should be so interested as I’m just a bald guy trying to get to heaven.* So I trust some of my inward thoughts – influenced as they are by the places we’re visiting, the people we meet, the books I’m reading, the time apart to be “still and know…” – will in some way help you and bless you, make you think a little about something you might not have thought about, make you laugh perhaps, and make you thank the Lord that you’re not married to me.

There were a few of photos that I wanted to share but haven’t quite made it into the tales of unfortunate events so far recounted. So, in no particular order, here they are with a few notes of explanation where necessary: –

Emilie choisit la charcuterie...

Emilie choisit la charcuterie...

Whatever you call them – Saucissons secs, Chorizos, Bâtons de berger, Csabai, Finocchiona, or Salchichon – we all love ’em! Especially Emily and I, who spend much time perusing, tasting, exploring the myriad different saucissons you can find in French markets and supermarkets. It’s one of our favourite hobbies.

Moules, naturellement... actually no, they're cooked.

Moules, naturellement... actually no, they're cooked.

Did I say we love moules? Yes I did didn’t I…

Mes quatre filles!

Mes quatre filles!

For some unknown reason it has become a tradition that I take a pic of Judith and the girls along the promenade in St Palais, but à l’arrière! I’m not sure why. We have several years worth now of photos like this – a bit like chalking up family heights on the kitchen doorpost (did you do this when you were little?) Lucy used one of the photos to design a lovely piece of art she gave me for my birthday one year which she entitled “My Girls”. It hangs near my bedside.

Emily's favourite vegetable: vanilla

Emily's favourite beans: vanilla & cocoa

Come on! They’re almost vegetables.

Encore!

Encore!

Did I mention the moules…?

LIFE GUARD TAKES LIFE TOO SERIOUSLY

CAP D’AGDE: POLICE MOVE IN AS LIFE GUARD TAKES LIFE TOO SERIOUSLY

A bizarre episode occurred one day when we were quietly minding our own business on the beach at Cap d’Agde in the Mediterranean. There was quite a lots of surf – part of the reason we had chosen this particular beach – and so there were several red-vested life-guards in evidence along the shoreline and on the rock-pile breakwater jutting out into the bay.

Everything was going swimmingly, so to speak, when suddenly one of the life-guards situated on the the breakwater started shouting and blowing her whistle and, by a combination of shouting and wild waving of hands, shooing loads of people back into shallow water. She was evidently not satisfied with the reaction of the folk in the water as she marched on to the beach, still shouting and whistling, waded into the water and starting remonstrating with the disobedient men, women and children who had disregarded her orders. We had, up to this point, been lazing happily in the sun on the beach – Emily and Lucy playing cards, Grace tanning, Judith and I reading – but it was impossible not to be drawn in to the brouhaha.

The rebellious people (in the main French – there seemed to be hardly any étrangers down south this year, certainly very few Brits, perhaps off-put by the poor sterling-euro exchange making most of the trendy Riviera resorts further towards Italy really expensive) were now slowly and reluctantly responding to the barking life-guard with the sort of enthusiasm shown by prisoners-of-war, but she was far from satisfied.

A serious altercation erupted between her and one group who seemed to have questioned her authority; before long several other life-guards had joined in, and within minutes mounted and armed police arrived on the beach blowing horns and demanding that everyone evacuate the sea and remain on the beach. I began to think that maybe we were ignorant of something – like  a nuclear test about to take place just off-shore – but as I arose and joined the throng now pressing in around the hoity-toity, in anticipation perhaps that the air-force or Foreign Legion might appear at any moment, I discovered, no, that it was just a question of the fact that the life-guard had received a challenge to her authority and had called in the reinforcements.

After this everything calmed down almost as quickly as it started, one or two people were meekly escorted off the beach and into a police car (no doubt for “questioning’) and the rest of us were allowed back into the sea if we wanted. Many more people than before did venture into the sea (like us for example) as the surf was far higher than before – no life-guard seemed to mind – and nothing more was said. So as the Guernsey Press might report “DRAMATIC MOVE AS POLICE DEAL WITH FRACAS AT BEACH: No-one was injured.”

The episode epitomized for us the difference in culture between the French and the English. Had events transpired this way on British soil, or rather sand, there could have been two possible outcomes, but probably not the one we witnessed in France. Either people would have been compliant and moved out of the sea fairly swiftly, grumbling quietly under their breath but generally asking few questions, or, more than likely alcohol would have been involved, it may have escalated into a riot on the streets, there would certainly have been injuries, and probably a judicial review resulting in several people losing their jobs and politicians piously stating that “lessons must be learnt”.

I like the French way better.

_______
* with acknowledgements to the estate of the late great John Wimber for the misquotation.

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