Bonjour Madames and Monsieur’s, Est-ce que vous etes mariee – K ?,
Most French villages back BC, i.e. Before Collingwood, were established next to a river, creek, abutting marshes or good arable land. The village of Sancerre is set on top of a prominent hill which is only prominent because it rises abruptly all by itself. Its self contained like a pimple on the landscape with a contagious disease. All about are hills of equal height but they shake hands with adjoining hills with an irregular dip between like they are line dancing. Being prominent and stand alone, it was a good defensive possie as back BC, everybody else apart from your tribe, wanted your possessions including goats, daughters and plonk. If you had a good baker then he was taken as well.
Over the years the Sancerrian’s built ramparts, a thick defensive wall with six towers, arrow slots, places where you can throw dung beetles down on the enemy and holes where you could surprise Fatty Arbuckle with a sharp pike thrust into the belly button. Only one tower remains, the Tower of the Strongholds, Tour des Fiefs in Froggy speak. This tower is where they lit a fire on top to warn and call in the surrounding peasants from the lower fields that approaching were Vladimir Putins, Donald Trumps, Seventh Day Adventists and Tupper Ware Party organiser’s. Why are you telling me this sonny boy. ‘Well Mum, when we fought the Protestant kids at Tiger Snake Swamp, it would have helped if we had knowledge of the terrain’. Yes dear. Have you been sipping from my sherry bottle again
I’m once again walking down the steep hill away from Sancerre’s Ramparts, this time on the correct path towards the Carefour Market at the bottom of Sancerre’s pimple. I divert half way into Sancerre’s Cemetery which is on a slope. Everything here slopes. Its a very old cemetery judging by the crumbling, friable headstones with lettering weathered away. The earliest I find is 1735, fifty three years before the drunken orgy that established the white invasion of a great southern land, Terra Australis Incognito. Due to the slope and inadequate foundations, many grave slabs and headstones lean or slide to hug the grave next door. Gravestones are having affairs. Theres a few very small Mausoleums, stone walls infilled with stained glass, wrought iron, steep pitched slate roofed, fancy entry door, embellished surrounds and inside in the near dark, I’m expecting bones.
No, theres marble plaques lining the walls, all similar about 30×30 cm, black engraving some faded all dusty. I wonder where the bodies go. About centre of the cemetery, there’s a stone plinth topped by a cross and on one side, a marble plaque engraved thus, A La Memoire de PHILLIPE BOURGEOIS 1756 – 1836. Cure de SANCERRE pendant 38 ANS. Translating that lot with my french schoolgirl Sue, it seems Phillipe was a priest in Sancerre for 38 years. Living till the excellent age back then of 80, is testament to having an affaire with God, hearing all the village gossip and affairs of the heart in the confession box and to altar wine keeping the brains nutrient flow stimulated. And dare I say, being single.
Down on the lower level of the cemetery, left hand side when you go have a squiz, are a neat double row of graves, concrete surrounds, crosses, all painted Dulux White sparkling gloss like yesterday. Theres a French flag fluttering and these 24 or so graves, are those of Sancerre soldiers who died in that gratuitous 1914/18 war.
Australia’s Federal Politicians most of them intellectually undernourished, continually have gratuitous egotistical faction driven skirmishes and group factional hug in’s. With marijuana laced biscuits. All leading to them placing pikes, daggers and goobies in each others CV’s, media outlets and in the IKEA instructions for assembling a Politician in Canberra. Complete with a Chinese Allen Key. None of them want what we voted for, which was a full days play at Old Trafford. They, the pollies, keep pulling up or knocking over the stumps, arguing with the Umpires, rubbing their balls on the ground or sandpaper hidden in their undies. And, they hit the captain with a bat as he dropped a catch. In the dressing room, they all sulk because the opposition won the referral’s to the third umpire whilst the Captain holding the teams well worn balls, looks like a man condemned by the Inquisition.
The Carefore Supermarket at the bottom of Sancerre’s pimple and I get along well, albeit I cannot understand the items on the shelving all in Froggy writing and everybody is in Froggy speak mode. Mind you, the wine, beer and whisky speaks its own language of music, love, laughter and aspirin. Its a clever layout with wine bottles occupying half a row alongside the veggies, then another row alongside the breakfast cereals, and on the end racks of the rows.
Down the far corner, where there are all the nutrients and vitamins essential for human life on this planet, is a mini Dan Murphys with grog of all sorts just sooo cheap. And like Woolies and Coles in Oz who place the other sort of healthy and/or necessary things you want most like eggs, bread, cheese, lollies, potato chips, toilet paper and McCains 50% less fat frozen chips, well spread out, so you get confused and your mind goes into ‘Compulsive Buy Mode’. Hence, as you pass shelving with red special stickers, wine and beer bottles, subliminal music plays. Its Dolly Pardon singing Nine to Five, and you finish up with a trolley full of plutonium and six cartons of Puligny Montrachet. Whilst at the checkout they play Barry Manilow’s Copacabana with Lola She Was a Show Girl which gives everybody apart from Bogans, a dose of diarrhoea and a hurry along to escape Barry and Lola. Cripes sonny boy, next time grab your old Mum two bottles of medium dry sherry. We seem to be going through a lot.
With backpack full of goodies plus a carry bag, I leave the Froggy Supermarket and trudge like a hunchback across a busy road and another, watching every direction including up and down, in case young Rueben on his Vespa is tearing along as he’s late for his 50th affaire. This week. I’m early, bus back up the hill to Sancerre does not leave until 1132. I fiddle about a bit at the bus stop, have a scratch, check out the neighbourhood and spy a Bar/Cafe. Its open. I’m in with my groceries to meet Gangsta Granny. Well, she looks like Vito Corleone’s’ grandmother. She’s old, botox looking face not helped by grumpy wrinkles. Cuppa tea S’il vous plait. I get a cup, pot of hot water and a small wooden case, glass lid, in which there are a selection of 12 tea bags in small compartments all with Froggy writing. As I consider myself sophisticated, and do not want Gangsta Granny behind the counter to consider me a dolt, I choose what I think is normal T. Its not. Its Peppermint T. I am a dolt. I drink it anyway and depart with an Au Revoir to Gangsta Granny before she phones grandson Vito to organise another horses head. The bus arrives on time and to demonstrate just how far the Fifth Republic is behind the times and why Emmanuel Macron is tearing his hair out trying to reform work practices, Marcel, the bus driver, has to manually fill out a slip of paper, my ticket, for my 2 euro bus ride. The bus is on a narrow road and theres some 20 cars behind held up by Marcels bus as he enters 44 letters/numbers onto the paper slip. The bus service number is entered, date goes in, then the village and bus stop I get on at, then my destination and bus stop, then he marks a column ‘Tariff’ then the amount I paid. Whew. All the cars behind wait patiently, That was my second walking trip to the supermarket down the hill but I must be learning as I got the bus back up the hill.
Part of my house husband role whilst the schoolgirl Sue is learning Froggy Speak, I prepare gruel for brekky, make play lunches, lunches, occasionally dins, get to pull the cork out of the wine bottle, the French are not into Stelvin Screw Tops, maybe in another thousand years, get to do the washing up and some of the shopping. To enhance the learning Froggy experience, Sue’s school requires its students to go down to the mid week open square market at Saint Satur. Down the hill. Again. I’m invited as I can act as a mule to carry things, a sort of Francis the Talking Donkey. A 20 seater small bus driven by Marcel, part of a regular daily service I now comprehend, but on seeing our crowd of women leading a donkey, he waves his arms in the air at all the Madame’s and at filling in a ‘ticket’ for all of us and just does one. Sacre Poop he says. A Froggy expletive I translated for your benefit from what he actually said in Froggy speak.
He takes us down to Saint Satur’s Place de la Republique, the village ‘Square’. Theres a higgly piggly arrangement of vans, benches, awnings, refrigerated cases, trucks and cars. Strolling about wearing aprons, are boofy Froggy men with thick bushy hair, matching eyebrows and tummies. Its open air so they drag on Gauloises exhaling smoke, and steam from their other orifices. Team Language School descends like the Huguenots are attacking and devour fruit, vegies, meat, fish, bread, smallgoods and cheese. Linda purchased the exclusive Roquefort Blue Cheese, rating on the smell scale, up there with soldiers socks. She rode in the back of the bus with the cheese in her hand out the window. Now we have food supplies for several months but I may have other shopping expeditions to top up our wine, whisky supplies and buy medium dry sherry for Mum.
Bonsoir, Bonjour, A bientot and Au revoir from French Sue 😘 and the Huguenot, Moi 🤪