A long day

Our band, “Carpet Dragons,” has a gig booked for December 2nd, in Bassercles, a village near where we rehearse. Unlike last time, when we were part of a larger event, this time we have to supply our own sound man and equipment. Pascal, who the group used pre-covid, being unavailable, we looked for someone else; Mika, the bass player found someone, so we’re going to have a full run-through in the village hall in November, hopefully we can work together, though the system Tito uses is nothing like what the guys are used to.

We had a rehearsal booked for this afternoon, but the Maire of Bassercles wanted to meet us beforehand, to discuss stage layouts, costs, posters, etc, so I set off this morning, in the relative cool. We’re experiencing another heatwave, due to last until Tuesday, so the temperature is anything up to 35°C in the shade again; I was very pleased to be spending the day in the cellar of Jean Marc’s house, where he’s built a studio that stays reasonably cool.

Pierrette, Jean Marc’s wife, took photos of us for a poster; there was a discussion about the possibility of just using a logo, but finally we concluded that it would be best to have a photo so people aren’t too disappointed when they arrive and find that we’re no spring chickens.

One thing it seems we need to do is form an association (everything is an association here), this will make it easier for people to book us, as well as having various benefits for us. Michel, our singer and spokesman, had spoken to the Maire before and, having been a Maire himself for several years, knows the process; “it’s not complicated”, he assured us. Adrian and I looked at each other in disbelief; everything is complicated in France! To prove how simple it is, Michel read from the notes he’d prepared; it started off ok, with the name of the group, going on to a sort of mission statement, but that’s where he lost Adrian and I, who, by “article 19”, on page 5 of Michel’s notes, had completely lost the will to live! But Michel’s going to deal with all that; my job, being the only one who lives in Dax, will be to take the prepared papers into the sous préfecture, where I hope they don’t ask me any questions.

After a very leisurely meeting/apéros with the Maire, we all sat down to lunch; each person had brought a contribution – Jean Michel the main course, Adrian the cheese, Michel the wine and I took a lemon meringue pie for dessert.

Lunch probably wasn’t the best idea we’ve ever had; we didn’t start playing till 3.30pm and everyone made so many mistakes (no French lunch is complete without wine). We had to get through the whole set of 11 songs, though, as Michel, the singer, who lives near Marseilles (8 hours drive), won’t be joining us again for a month.

By 7pm we’d finished; I wasn’t the only one feeling wrung out, but we’d made good progress. At least I only had an hour’s drive home, unlike Michel, who set off straight from rehearsal and should be home by 3-4am.

Below is a link to a video of the band, made a few years ago, before I joined them. I hope it works.

A welcome to St Paul

Everyone who’s moved to St Paul in the last year was invited to a reception this morning. It was held in the Mairie (town hall) and you were supposed to sign up beforehand, though I think quite a few just turned up as there weren’t enough chairs, the room was full and people had to spill over into the corridor and the balcony.

The Maire gave a speech extolling the virtues of living here and introduced those of his helpers who were able to attend, we watched a short film about the town, were given a nice tote bag full of goodies and sent off the the “forum des associations”, being held just up the road.

All clubs, whatever they do, tend to be associations; there were far more than I expected – everything from dance classes to food banks, from the club that puts on bull fights, to judo and tai chi. I got caught by one woman on the cremation stand – I only stopped for a look because I thought I must have misunderstood! But no; you sign up, leave them something in your will and they’ll make sure your wishes are followed. She was very pushy; when I said that my children know my wishes, she insisted that they might know now, but once I’m gone, will they really carry them out???? Unfortunately, my french isn’t good enough to tell her that by then I really won’t give a monkey’s! Finally I got away, clutching a large sheaf of papers, which have gone straight into the recycling.

I found the painting club that I was looking for and even a patchwork club that does a bit of textile art too. A friend had asked me to look out for ballroom dancing classes, but there weren’t any.

After lunch, I went to man the cycle club stand at the twinned event in Dax. If I thought the forum in St Paul was big, Dax was huge, with over 100 stands, as well as demonstrations of all sorts of sports, dancing and even stilt dancing. I took a video, but it won’t load up.

There were lots of visitors and we handed out numerous flyers about the cycle club; whether or not that will translate to new members remains to be seen, but at least people know we exist.

I also found a group doing Spanish classes, which I’ll join at their open day in a couple of weeks, as I’m keen to improve my Spanish so I can go to Peru to help my friend Susie with her charity.

On my return I met my neighbour, Antonia, in the car park; she’s invited me to two events next weekend, gradually I’m getting to know people.