Saturday, 28 November 2009

The times they are a-changin’...

I have always liked the way the official holidays are celebrated here. In earlier Blogs I have mentioned several times what the most common procedure is; whether the wreath is available or not, whether the official speech, dictated by “Paris”, is read or not, to which of the two monuments we have to go this time, and the real highlight of every occasion, namely the opening of the boot of Monsieur P.’s car from which, through a rickety tape deck a crackling, whining Marseillaise will be played. Last Armistice day (11 November) it was yet again one of those occasions.
Traditionally the wreath laying takes place in Cormatin only. We were stunned, when we noticed that Monsieur P. had indulged in buying a brand new neat and tidy amplifier, on batteries, which hosted a cassette player and a microphone. The mayor could now use a microphone to address his audience, and the Marseillaise was this time actually recognisable as such. At the end the mayor invited everyone for a vin d’honneur, but that was not what Monsieur P. had in mind. He is the last survivor of Buchenwald in Cormatin, but that is not the only reason why Monsieur P. has authority in the commune. A week earlier there had been a celebration at the monument for the deportees, to commemorate the fact that the monument had been erected 60 years ago. Obviously Monsieur P. was not impressed with the turn-out that particular day, so he strongly suggested that the whole crowd (which was exceptionally big this day) should go to Bois Dernier as well, even though there was no wreath. A week before the monument had been enhanced with a new inscription and a flagpole from which the French flag was flying proudly. The inscription reads “Nous sommes libres, notre drapeau flotte à nouveau, ils ont fait don de leur vie.” ; which means something like “We are free, our flag flies anew, they gave their lives”. After a minute of silence the Marseillaise sounded like it had never sounded here before. Still, whenever I pass by one of the monuments, I think with a bit of nostalgia of how it sounded in the good old days.....

The website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Christmas is looming

The year is slowly coming to an end, and this usually culminates in an overabundance of Christmas decorations in Chazelle and other hamlets or villages around us. But our hamlet has something special other hamlets do not have: Chazelle has on of the world’s greatest decaroteurs of all time. And certainly Monsieur N. gets his act together towards Christmas.
In the summertime his garden is inhabited by an army of garden gnomes, standing in front of their own wooden working model of a Dutch windmill, or leaning against a wooden model of a romanesque church. If you want to turn your garden into something like the one I have just described, Monsieur N. is definitely your man.
This year however, his winter urge started earlier than usual. At the end of last month, out of the blue, something appeared on the corner of the only crossroads Chazelle boasts. Seated on a fire hydrant there was a man carved out of pumpkins. This Halloween decoration was however aptly destroyed by, one assumes, a stray cat or dog. But nothing can stop Monsieur N., once Christmas is looming. Last week, quite unexpectedly, a romanesque church appeared in front of his house on a wooden table.
The space in front of the church doors was populated by figures from a nativity scene; or should I say from at least a dozen nativity scenes? Not long after that another table appeared in front of one of his garage doors, this time carrying a huge wooden stable, inhabited by what appeared to be the remainder of his grand total of nativity scenes. But that is not all. The walls of his house are now decorated with numerous tasteful light bulbs, light snakes, roof and chimney climbing Father Christmasses, etc. In a word: his house breathes Christmas from all its pores.
But the best still has to come. Each year appears, next to the aforementioned fire hydrant, a Christmas tree and something that either resembles a coffin, or a rocket monsieur N. has built for his great-grand children. This monstrosity of course has lights, but it also contains another Father Christmas, half hanging against the wall of his coffin, ready to be launched into outer space.
When one has something like this next door, who would want to travel to London for the pathetic decorations in Oxford Street?

The website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle

Saturday, 14 November 2009

A delayed funeral

Recently, during a lunch of the Amicale de Cormatin, our mayor was in a very talkative mood. It all started off with talking about the main dish. That consisted of a stew of game, which he had shot himself during one of his hunting expeditions in the woods around Mont Saint-Romain. The wine flowed abundantly, and the stories got taller. At some stage there was a story about the bell-ringer of Chazelle. One day he rang the bell with such vigour, that the rope disattached itself from the bell, landed on the head of the ringer and almost knocked the guy off his feet. Since that time no bell has ever been rung, because there is no access to the bell from within, and obviously nobody has felt the urge to fix it from the outside. From there the subject changed to funerals. Our mayor had a relative in Paris, who died there. But the funeral was going to take place in Chazelle, where the family grave is, and everything had been arranged with the funeral director in Paris. The coffin would leave Paris at 9h00, and would arrive in Chazelle well in time for the funeral at 15h00. Everything was set for the event; the family had gathered in the church, the priest was there… The only thing that was not there, was the coffin. One and a half hour later the priest was getting cheesed off, and wanted to call off the whole thing. In the end he decided to do a symbolic funeral of a portrait of the deceased, and after that everybody moved off. In the mean time Paris had been phoned a number of times, and finally Head Quarters came back with the solution of this mystery. It appeared, that the driver had entered Chazelles into his GPS receiver. Not only are there at least 4 places with the name Chazelle in France; there are even more villages or hamlets with the name Chazelles. The driver had not just miss-spelled the place name, but also randomly picked the first one that came up in his tomtom. He emerged somewhere in Puy-de-Dôme, and after finding out his mistake, reached the proper Chazelle at about 21h00. The funeral turned out to be a very lonely affair in the end…. Moral of the story: Never trust your tomtom blindly!

The website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle