Sunday, August 17, 2008

August is a Dangerous Month for the Liver

There just doesn't seem enough days in August to accommodate it all.

By 'all' I mean the fètes, 'animations' and foires that crop up in every village and town in France during August.

There just aren't enough weekends in the month to do them all, so it's a case of pick and choose.

The big one in our neck of the woods is the Folk Festival in Montrejeau.It's now in it's 49 th year which means it's been going since the days of the Cold War, which probably explains why it has been such a popular event with Eastern European countries.For decades the only way to get out of Eastern Bloc countries was to be part of a cultural visit. And folk music and dancing certainly fitted the bill. How many of the participants actually went home after such events is still a matter of conjecture!

We've also had the 'battages'...difficult to actually pin down with a title. They are a celebration of le moisson', or the harvest. Ancient tractors are greased and polished to within an inch of their lives, oxen are yoked to ploughs, steam engines puff away and burn yet another hole in the ozone layer ( bless them) and the Comminges Classsic Car Club chuff and putter up to the stubble field, all gleaming paintwork and shiny brass,and park up for the afternoon to await the admiration of we less fortunate souls who are stuck(through economic circumstances ) with a bog standard Peugeot 306, or similar. The French pronounce it as trois-cent-six and why not? They produced it. It's only us mono-lingual Brits who use the 'oh' instead of 100 ( three-oh-six etc..)
We have two annual battage within a 10 kilometre radius and both involve a very(and I do mean a very )large lunch which involves an inordinate amount of chicken, in various guises - starter ,soup, entree, main, you name it- the chuk is in there somewhere. All washed down with copious quantities of vin de pays of all colours, and a fire-water digestif. Well, chicken can be a bit on the dry side, so you need something to wash it down.And if you set three hours or four hours aside the alcohol consumption will have burnt off before one takes the road home, or so one imagines (erroneously!) I have formed instant and lasting friendships with my neighbours at battage lunches...the problem is I can't remember who they were with.
And there's always the entertainment to follow. This normally involves an accordionists, a comedian who goes down storm with everyone, and a singer who's songs are known and loved by the audience who join in with gusto.
It's at this point I feel like a rank outsider. As your average Frenchman(or woman would) in a Yorkshire social club on a Friday night.


Annie Wicking said...

It sounds like fun!

How good is your french?
Is it very different to our village fairs and shows? We just come back from Whitby, North Yorkshire and a lot of the shows have been rained off this year.

best wishes

Jo said...

My French could be better Annie. I still have toe-curlingly embarrassing moments when I misunderstand something.
Our fairs and shows are very similar to yours, but there's no sign of 'elf and safety' and not much in the way of hygiene inspections. But not many people seem to die !