Autour de St Rémi

06/09/06… correction of typos (well it was late when I wrote my entry!)
Ah now I bet you think I’m becoming a “God botherer” – well that’s what they say where I come from. Far from it. OK, between the ages of 8 and 11 I was in the Church Lads Brigade (or Boys Brigade if you wish) back in Leicester. That was my Mum’s idea.

But then I became old enough to make the decision to stop attending, stopping my weekly hypocritical Sunday morning visit to the local church, St Crispins.

Now I live in France, in a small village here in the région Parisienne where we are considered by many parisien friends of being “out in the back of beyond”. Perhaps right – or at least close to it. Generally those running the Mairie would surely prefer to keep it that way, having avoided becoming an “agglomoration” of the local town in the 70’s, Evry, the Milton Keynes of the Essonne.

So village life carries on, with the inclusion of a photo of our local church (above) St Rémi. Now what does an athiest and a church have to do with each other, you ask? Hmmm… well there is something in common. Last year I was asked by the “maire adjoint”, Monsieur Blétel, if I could help with the typsetting of a magazine for the “journées du patrimoine” – it’s a period of the year when towns and villages up and down France remember the local history of their area.

In the case of our village, this usually means an exhibition of an artists work in the church of St Rémi and sometimes a concert afterwards. The magazine is produced yearly to talk about any subject concerning “les journées du patrimoine”. Last year it was a history of the local church – which I was roped into doing by Mr Blétel through Thumpah. FIL was secretaire de mairie in the 70’s and prinicipal of the village school – so there are loose connections there.

It was rather a rushed job last year as the whole thing had to be typeset (using unfamiliar software… MS Publisher) with a cover design and the inclusion of several photos, some of which had to bePhotoshopped . In the end I was quite pleased with it, even if I had the horror of having to be involved with something to do with the church.

Mr Blétel was nice to work with though, even if he is a bit excentric in his own way. It was a good experience – and through this work I got to meet the maire for the first time.

Then after the flurry of activity on the magazine things died down and I heard no more from Mr Blétel. Although since then, I have seen the maire, because of the kerfuffle with the house being built next door to us. Oh, and I think I saw Mr Blétel when out on my scooter a few months ago. I had stopped at a priorité à droite to let him out of a side road – but even I am a bit difficult to recognise with a crash helmet on my bonce!

So cue yesterday afternoon… I’m sitting here looking through some music videos on You Tube, when the phone rings. It’s Mr Blétel asking me nicely if I could help him with the magazine for this year – seeing as we worked so well together last year. Well I’m glad he is happy to work with me at least!

As I didn’t really want to talk about it all yesterday I said that I was free today and so he proposed to pop round at around 2pm with the text, photos etc. At least this year we’ll have longer than a weekend to work on it, he had told me on the phone that we have 8 days to get it typeset – complete with the nightmare last minute corrections no doubt -Thumpah ended up having to proof read the whole thing because of the typos.

Last night FIL popped round – he doesn’t come to the house very often these days because of serious problems with his legs. He has bad circulation and having gone through a round of operations last year he’s to have another in due course. Having spent nearly 3 months away down in the Périgord he and MIL finally got back home on Sunday.

So it’s been hectic for him the last weekend, with a long trip in the car and an Ancien Combattants en Algérie dinner on Saturday before coming home. He was very tired. Yesterday evening was the first time I’d seen him in 3 months. Of course, the first topic of conversation was the house being built next to us (always a bit of a bitter topic of conversation at that!) then it was the work we’d done on our house since he’d been gone.

We’re still in the process of putting up new fencing at the end of a path that runs between our garage and the new house under construction next door. We plan on fencing off the bit of land behind our garage at the end of this path. Eventually we want to put one of those typically French washing lines along the side of the path.

FIL had set his heart on us making it into a driveway, with access to it from the road that runs around the back of our house, so we could park a car at the side of the garage. We had already said to him “Whats the point?” months ago and again told him we didn’t want to do that.

But he wouldn’t have it – when I was in the middle of explaining to him where we were going to put the new fence he totally ignored me and started talking toThumpah , asking her what we planned to do, even if I was in the middle of explaining to him what we planned to do. At this point I just said “Bon, Je vais rentrer” and walked off in more than a huff.

Thing is, our house was the family home and although it’s not really my place to dictate to him (he isn’t my Dad afterall) that we are now adults and that we’ll sodding well do what we want, it’s always been a bit of a problem. Here’s an Englishman who has come from nowhere living with his daughter and having problems finding employment. He was no doubt hoping for better for his daughter, then he saw her get stuck with me… A foreigner who couldn’t even speak French when he arrived.

Well I didn’t want to cause a scene – I’ve already lost my temper with him a handful of times since I moved to live here 9 years ago, and given that he is a bit poorly I just walked away.

Not so Thumpah – she made me very proud of her. She told him in no uncertain terms that we’ll do what we sodding well like, and that we are not kids and if he didn’t like us doing as we want and within our own time schedule, well, then he’ll just have to put up with it. Whether he has gotten the message is anyones guess . I hate that he isn’t very well and is under stress waiting for an operation – but even if that wasn’t the case, he’s still up to his own antics in using the fact he has helped his children more than enough financially and by providing them with a home each in a round about way, then by reminding them of the fact and using that as emotional blackmail is some cases. He’s certainly done that with Thumpah.

OK he has helped a lot – but it’s no life being made to feel guilty all the time because he reminds us about it and that that we should feel eternally grateful – and that we should do what he prefers. It would be good to be treated as responsible adults and left to live our lives. We can cope with the ups and downs perfectly well thankyouverymuch…

I had another short nights sleep – eventually nodding off at around 2am, which meant as is the norm for these last few weeks, I woke up late. Well, in fact, later than usual because it was nearly 10am. I chatted with Thumpah on Gtalk for a bit and as she hadn’t had the time to prepare a packed lunch, suggested that she come home and eat with me.

Mr Blétel was due to come round at 2pm, as arranged. Today il a fait beau, so I wanted to take advantage of the nice weather and start the very long job of leveling off the top of our hedges along the drive. It was as I was doing this with a chain saw (not a good idea as it was eating some of the foliage) that Mr Blétel arrived 30 minutes late for our appointment. Not moaning about him being late though, it seems to be a French artform. 🙂

So it seems that this years magazine will be about a sculpter/artist called Jean Touret – a close friend of Mr Blétel who died 2 or 3 years ago aged 89. He had brought with him a 20 minute DVD containing a documentary about Mr Touret and his son, which we watched, showing his rather large house near Blois and him working on a wooden sculpture using a chainsaw… I have to admit that he was very agile for his age. Chainsaws are quite heavy (and worryingly dangerous) as I’ve been finding out with the hedges.

It seems this years magazine will be shorter at least – but I’ll still have to wait while the texts are being finalised. Then we’ll have to go though a CD of photos he has taken of works by MrTouret , borrowed for the exhibition in the church. The main thing will be to design a suitable front cover – which is going to be very interesting considering most of the works are abstract wood sculptures with a few paintings. It’s going to be a challenge.

Will be time to dust of MS Publisher again methinks…

Not long after Mr Blétel left MIL came round to apologise of the behalf of FIL for yesterday evening. She explained that he’s been under stress over the impending operation on his legs – it has been put off a couple of times. But now he’s due to go under the surgeons knife in October. Worryingly he has been told that if they can’t do something to rectify the circulation in his right leg then the only other option would be to aputate it. Lets certainly hope that things don’t come to that! It’s a horrible thought.

MIL said to me that she didn’t want me to be upset over yesterday evening – because FIL has been a bit short with her over the last 3 months and has also annoyed my two BIL’s in a similar way he annoyed me and Thumpah last night. So it seems that we are all getting the same treatment over what we should be doing with our respective homes. Oh dear…

Well I’ve always gotten on well with MIL perhaps (certain) better than with my own Mother – and she’s the one that’s helped me combat my depression so I really cannot hold anything against her. Besides she is just the nicest person you’ll ever meet. There… I had to say it!

So, better bring this to a close, before I end up going to bed at 2am again. Mr Blétel said he’ll call me tomorrow lunchtime meanwhile I’ve got to figure out a way of mending our broken hedgecutters so I can do the top of our hedges… ho hum…

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