Willkommen Bienvenue Welcome

Welcome, gentle readers.

This is an everyday tale of regular folk, who moved from Sheffield to the deepest Corrèze in France Profonde and thence to the rather more cosmopolitan Lot in search of something… different. We certainly found it.

The Lot is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Reputedly, a famous TV globetrotter was asked where, of all the places in the world he had visited, he might return to. He answered, ‘The Lot’.

Fans of Channel 4’s Grand Designs will know that we built a somewhat quirky straw bale house-with-a-view here in the Lot, not far from the celebrated Dordogne river. You can read all about it in my book,
Bloody Murder On The Dog's Meadow, or watch the re-runs of the programme on More 4, or view it on You Tube.

After a break in the proceedings to write a book or two, this blog now takes the form of an everyday journal. Sometimes things happen, sometimes they don't (but the art school dance goes on forever). I hope it will give you an entertaining insight into what it's like to live in a foreign country; what it's like in the slow lane as an ex-pat Brit in deepest France.

I shall undertake to update this once or twice a week, unless absent on leave. Comments always welcomed, by the way, but I do tend to forget what buttons to click in order to answer them.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Stop the Week 4

Mine eyes have seen the glory of our cricketers not just beating the feared and loathed Australians, but pounding them into an Antipodean pulp. It’s a wonderful feeling, but it’s tinged with nervous anticipation of the next three test matches. Never trust a beaten Aussie; he’s always likely to get right up again and administer an even sounder beating. I can’t rest easy in my bed at night until England notch up the second victory that will guarantee the return to these shores of that miniature urn full of the ashes of burnt bails. Strange the way we get so worked up over such a tiny trophy.
I see it as one of my missions in life to pass on my love of film to our daughter. Just in case she is ever called upon to deliver a treatise on Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter. This week it was Mike Leigh’s wonderful Secrets and Lies under the spotlight. We love Tim Spall in this house and his portrayal of the sweet and slovenly brother, Maurice, was as touching as they come. Mike Leigh’s methodology inspires actors to get so deeply into their characters that they come up with lovely telling details like the miniature rucksack that Maurice’s assistant wore during the climactic get-together.
Friday night is music night on BBC Four. I look forward to it every week. This week, the two lovely folk-singing Unthank sisters – Rachel and Becky, they of the heavenly voices, the frumpy frocks, the old-fashioned charm and the kind of earth-mother figures that would send the cartoonist, Robert Crumb, into a sexual frenzy – presented Still Folk Dancing After All These Years. (Or ‘yairs’, as the sisters would pronounce it in their frost-melting Northumbrian accents.)
The Coco-Nuts
It was a six-month tour of Britain in search of obscure folk-dancing troupes and traditions. Before I fell asleep in front of the telly, I witnessed some courageously daft groups, like the leaping Morris dancers of wherever it was near Oxford. I once went to a traditional Breton wedding in the heart of ancient Brittany that featured hurdy-gurdies, obscure reed instruments and prancing hanky-wielding dancers in jerkins and/or lace dresses, and it stirred my soul.
The Prime of Mr.
Wilko Johson
But I’ve never seen any folk dancers as gloriously lunatic as the blacked-up Britannia Coco-nut Dancers of Bacup, Lancs. It was like something that Spike Milligan might have dreamed up for Q9, or whatever his show was called. These are the real Mad Men: one day each year they get dolled up like a troupe of pantomime dames to slap and shuffle their way around Bacup, Lancs, a one-horse mill town in the shadow of the Pennines. Mar-vellous!
Good as it was, though, it wasn’t one of those Friday night programmes that you want to record for posterity – like the Black Sabbath story, or Julian Temple’s Oil City Confidential, the story of Dr. Feelgood, fronted by the manic but utterly loveable Wilko Johnson, or, best of all perhaps, the heart-wrenching story of Arthur ‘Killer’ Kane and the tragic aftermath of a reunion concert with his fellow New York Dolls.
Roll on next Friday; roll on the next test match.

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