Thursday, 25 September 2014

As You Like It

One of the best albums ever made - but is it suitable for mass?
I have had a pet theory for a while - that the priests round here seem to make things up as they go along during a service. Being an English Anglican - where things are well organised - you get a book when you enter the church and you just follow the instructions. Sometimes there is an either/or option and depending on the church you go to, they may take a course you are not used to, but, if you remain on the ball, you can follow things.

The church services I have been since we moved to France (excluding Taizé which is extremely well organised) you get given what could loosely be called an order-of-service sheet when you enter. This piece of paper serves to give you the songs to be sung (I refuse to call many of the offerings put before me, hymns) and a rough guide as to what might or might not happen. Then it appears that the priest does and says what the heck he likes. The songs are not necessarily sung in the order given on the sheet and as to the instructions, well forget it. The one Protestant church service I went to, I failed to spot the God link at all. Don’t get me wrong I am a great fan of Pink Floyd and Shine On You Crazy Diamond is my all time favourite, but how that fits into a religious service is slightly lost on me.

Whilst I have shared my theory with our church-going French neighbours, I have tended to get blank looks, as though it is obviously me that doesn’t get it. Well this is France and things are different, so I suppose it is just me and I certainly don’t get it. But now I know I am right and I have the proof!

We spent a few days in Provence and we visited the Basilica of St Maxime la Sainte Baume, reputedly the last resting place of Saint Mary-Magdalene. The church itself was not that spectacular and I am not a great fan of looking at caskets full of bones no matter who they reputedly belong to, but there was a notice in the church that I just have to share with you.

Proof !
Rather freely translated it welcomes visiting priests to the church to pray and to say mass if they like. However there is a condition, that they stick to the words given in “the book”. Ah ha, so there is a book, there are proper words and priests must be commonly making it up as they go along otherwise there would be no need to politely remind them to do things according to the liturgy or to not to do them at all.

So bravo to St Maxime la Sainte Baume for sticking to your guns and demanding that things are done properly. Sadly there was no mass said the day we were there so I couldn’t experience a French service along official lines. Next time we are near there, I will make sure I go on a Sunday.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Away for a couple of days and look what happens

Much loved logo of our favourite supermarket
We went off to Provence for a short break (don’t worry I’ll bore you with the details in a later blog) and we have come back to a very unwelcome surprise. They have changed our supermarket. I don't mean just reorganised it a bit, I mean totally changed it. The Intermarché we have loved and been loyal to for the last nine years is no more and Carrefour have invaded its hallowed space. No warning, no thought for the trauma it could inflict upon returning holidaymakers who just want to buy some oranges, milk and eggs for their first breakfast at home – oh no, they couldn’t care less.

It had been a difficult journey home in horrendous weather conditions and arriving, as we did, when the Friday afternoon rush started in the supermarket, with staff and shoppers alike looking bemused at what was going on, probably wasn’t maybe the best of times to be trying out the place

Temporary banner proclaiming the change - nice trolley though
We bumped into a friend in the supermarket who was equally lost, in fact she had returned from her holiday on Wednesday to find the shop totally shut and today she, like us, was struggling to find the simplest of things. The poor woman at the till, was battling with the new computer system trying to find the price for our oranges, or even to find the right button to get the fruit price-list. Did the staff know in advance I wonder? Or was it just as much of a surprise to them as it was to us?

Carrefour is not my favourite supermarket, they are expensive and the quality is not always what it should be, so the Tuilerie jury is out on this one. I hate to change my habits, but I can feel a change of supermarket coming on. Even though I detest the Atac car park, the aisles are far too narrow and the floor looks like it hasn't been changed since the place was built in the sixties, they have always had much nicer cheese and their grattons are the best in the region, so they will possibly be getting my custom from now on, I'll give the new shop one last chance then.....

Sunday, 7 September 2014

La Renetrée

Look no wobble
After three weeks of family staying with us and with closing the campsite for the season, we have all too quickly arrived at La Rentrée – return to school. When the kids go back to school for the autumn term, it is a big “thing” in France. You see “rentrée” everywhere, it is as if the country is reawakening itself after the soporific summer months. Strangely enough the rentrée this year has seen a return to some summer weather - sunny and hot - after a miserable and cold August. The hottest day so far this year was Saturday, when the local clubs and associations were having their annual membership drive in Cluny and we were called into action to do some Tai Chi demos.

What better way to spend a Saturday than gentle exercise on a sunny grass verge with the towers of Cluny in the background.
Tai Chi on a sunny lawn

Moments before impact
Unfortunately it was hot and I mean HOT, so we retreated further into the shade of a tree. That however, brought certain hazards with it. Even with my somewhat diminished height, twirling your stick under a tree means that it will eventually bump into some branches and if that doesn’t put you off your stride, I don’t know what will. The second stick demo and I made sure I was in the sun!

It was the first public set of demos we had done as a group and I thought we coped very well, the 24 of Beijing went well, no one fell over or even wobbled on the leg kicks and apart from my argument with the tree and Christophe’s fan flying off into the blue yonder at an inappropriate moment, we did rather well and at least the audience applauded, which made it all worth while.

Maybe next year
So it is back to school for us all, this time next year maybe I will be able to join in the fan demo as well – we’ll see.

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