Turn, Turn, Turn.

Age in an ocean of youth

Writing has never been about the number of words.  The song title “Turn, Turn,Turn.” is only three words but it was this addition that Pete Seeger applied to the biblical words of Ecclesiastes and made the song something of  a philosophical icon of the last century

I can never see sunflowers without this song running through my head when I am here in France. The French word “tournesol” carries the notion of turning to the sun. We have fields of thousands of joyful shining faces that turn and turn and turn to their guiding sun.  Of course, they have their season, and the season turns.
Close to my home there is a field of such flowers. In the middle is a rigid old tree, long dead. My  pagan heart has been pondering this scene. The vibrant brash beauty forms a sea around this old rock. The picture at its most obvious level is of youth and death set in the context of time and season. Even so, the dead tree speaks as loudly as the clamouring crowd at its feet. Once it was a seed. Now it is an orator as the crowd turns its face to follow its message across the perfect blue sky each day closer to autumn and harvest.

In a similar mood I found myself in the 12thCentury Romanesque church of Saint Savinien a few nights ago. The occasion was a concert performed by the Mukachevo boys choir. This group of young men from Ukraine visited our little village in France as part of a programme operated by “Eurochestries”. Broadly the idea is to spread the culture and music of “Euro” peoples to each other and to give opportunity to young folk to express their talents and see foreign lands. And there in the middle of this ocean of youth was a fossilised Romantic novelist applauding my little heart out to these wonderful young guys. They opened with JS Bach (Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring) and ended with ABBA (Thank-you For The Music)

Watch the videos and catch the re-writing of the lyric for the soloists in the ABBA song. They didn’t have any “girls with golden hair” but they pulled through like super troupers.

And there it is – my wonderful life here in France. Turning tournesols reach for the sun. Young men stretch their voices upwards with the joy and talent of youth. And my eyes, ears, hands and life – here to see, hear, love and write.

The principal contents of this post were featured on my Venture Galleries Authors Collection blog

Emma Thinx: Youth is a box of chocolates. Age is fat, sugar and doctors. Wisdom is eating the pralines.

The Fatkins Diet

Titanic cheese about to strike apple-berg

Ok – I’m a bit of a mug sometimes. I do so want to be nice and kind to everyone….(Well, let’s leave my ex husband’s mother out of this. Actually, once I found I could sweeten her up by sitting her down with a lemon to suck we got on quite well). 

I went to La Foire Aux Vins in my home of Saint Savien. This is a kind of wine tasting hard-sell for people who know far more about wine than me. In addition to wine, there is cheese. Yes Gromit; cheese! Now everyone knows about cheese don’t they. It is that slimming product famous for being the perfect companion to Cognac or a glass of heart saving vin rouge. 

So lovely I could cry….and I do!
O! live live live

The wonderful peasant Fromagesse (don’t worry, I made it up) behind the stall counter placed her revolutionary French guillotine  tool on a block of cheese which looked like it had once been the corner stone of the Roman Empire. First she indicated a possible chunk of about the size of Scotland, but I realised that the Romans had been so terrified of their untethered skirt covered ginger genitals, they actually built a wall to keep them out. 

Little by little she placed her blade on smaller and smaller chunks until it was about the size of The Titanic. I nodded agreement, feeling so mean and unkind that I only wanted such a small sliver. She reminded me that this was genuine cheese made from the milk of magical mountain top cows who would only release the gold of their udders for re-sale to a woman of the finest beauty and taste. Hmm – lucky I showed up! 

I plucked up courage to ask what it was. She drew a deep breath and uttered the magic word “Cantal” and I recoiled in puzzlement, handed over 30 Euros and staggered on clutching my brick of magical mountain cholesterol. Luckily I was able to purchase a decent brandy to accompany it so that the alcohol will wipe out any ill effects. To balance the whole matter I bought a selection of goat, donkey and wild boar sausage. I’m gonna call it the Fatkins diet.

Village des fleurs et du ciel, Utter utter JOY!

Seriously though, my fellow bon viveurs, France is the place for flavour and savour. To convince you of the absolute need you have in your life to come to Saint Savinien Sur Charente I’m posting a few photos today to show you what you are missing. Bon Apetit mes amis.

Old goats still make a stiff sausage

Before I go I must share with you a complaint about the standard of modern spelling and grammar. A fine upstanding gentleman has taken the trouble to ask me on Facebook if I wish to see his very large Denis. Seemingly my new profile picture has interested him enough to dub me as “Senior but Sexy”. He is obviously a very inexperienced young man because ladies of my age know only too well that senior IS sexy. I’m sure that given time, his friend Denis will develop enough shades of grey to play in the senior leagues.

Emma thinx: Take the die out of diet and it’s time for tea.

Postcard from Saint Savinien Sur Charente

Postcard from Saint Savinien

Just as I was thinking that I could live with the idea of being properly English, I arrived back at my home in France. I feel unpatriotic – like one of those reviled rebels who do not stand up for the National Anthem. I want you all to know that I do stand for the anthem. I also stand up for the Star Spangled Banner (I have family in the USA) and for La Marseillaise because I love France and it is a great song. I know I should be in England for the jubilee – but here is my home and I can only come when I can get away from the bus.

And now for the big big question. I have French guests for dinner on Wednesday and I want to serve something very English. I am tempted to go for Sausage Toad – otherwise known as Toad In The Hole. It is delicious of course, but I cannot think of it without flashing back to factory canteen self service queues. Toad, beans n’chips fed Britain when we were Great and still made our own clothes pegs. I do smile at the idea of enormous fuel guzzling ships carrying huge containers from around the world filled with plastic clothes pegs. There must be some mistake. I’m sure that somewhere all this waste, greed and exploitation results from some simple mistake.

Going back to the meal, I am always a bit worried when cooking for French folk. At the breast it is common for infants to ask if goat’s milk is available with a little more ground pepper s’il vous plait. They are born as gourmets. The other problem is a translation ..”Crapaud Dans Le Trou” does not quite do it somehow. All the same I’m gonna go for it. I’ll put the recipe on Pinterest.

Rebekah Booked

Being home in France I have entirely lost the will to talk about anything momentous. Back in the UK all manner of show trials are shaping up and the entire police force is now working on Rebekah Brooks and the affairs of Mogul Murdoch. These folk are an unapproachable  social class to me but I do feel sorry for her. When we get a bit closer to the self righteous legal carnival I will wade in with some Blistering Sistering. All I will say for now is that when my lawn mower and bike were stolen last year, a police officer phoned to ask me if I knew who had done it. Since I did not, the case was closed. Hundreds and hundreds of cops are trying to nail one woman who might or might not have known about some celebrity phone hacking. It will cost millions – and who will pay? OK – you have guessed – you tax paying powerless non celebrity suckers. I do want to say that if you watched the Whitney Houston clip above and know her tragic story, – just remember that the “gutter press” attacked again and again the drug barons and hacked their phones while the police were sitting on their on hands. 

Rebekah Brooks would wince at being called comrade….But Comrade/Sister Brooks – we do know that this a show trial and for what it’s worth I am on your side as a woman and as a dispossessed News Of The World reader.

Don’t rush
Bridge over untroubled water

Big sky postcard day to take home
Venice – eat your heart out

Step This way
Roof and River

All I really want to do is share with you some images of my lovely town of Saint Savinien sur Charente in France. In this case public money has been spent on guys who know how to cut stone to create beauty. France is still a land of tradition and respect for the artisan.  The local mayor, Monsieur Jean-Claude Godinot is something of a visionary and has set about building works to make the place a joy to the eyes. A clumsy 1960’s concrete “Brutalist” old folks home blocked a view of the church. In the UK we would have had 10 committees, 4 bishops, a professional atheist, a protest group, a pro group, an undecided liberal/green coalition and two public enquiries. Here, we have one man, several earth moving machines and a vision. All the old folk were re-housed properly by the way. In less than a week, the view was restored. If you want a holiday or a break in France you should put this place on your list. Take a look at the photos of ce village de pierre et de l’eau.

Emma thinx: Let not the weight of Law extinguish the light of Justice.