Friday, 19 June 2009

Mirepoix Cathedral and a bit of a card

Mirepoix is a quaint medieval town where the English have settled in alarming numbers to see out the rest of their days.
I was expecting a Sunday afternoon to be quiet, with abundant parking available.
Wrong! There was a conference on sustainability etc going on. I finally got parked in a side street and dressed up like a posh waiter, I strolled around to the Cathedral. There was someone talking on a microphone to a sparce audience under the Halle. Stands were everywhere. The rastas/ hippies were in town. Against one wall of the Cathedral were several examples of hand built wooden toilet cubicles, painted up in various patterns and colours. Their USP (unique selling point) was that they did not require any water to flush them. They were dry toilets. I did not investigate further, but the individual cubicle units economised in the wood used for some of the walls.
A man was chopping slices off a log to make wooden roof shingles.
Some others were making bricks with straw, and what could have been mud or horse shit.
Someone else was selling wooden bricks presumably to make wooden houses? There was a big horse in a harness who seemed to serve no purpose, but could have been the engine to drive someone’s cart. There were the usual incense, soap, honey, bio-wine sellers.
There was also a tea tent, but not as we know it. It was a tea Tee-pee, with the bottom half missing. Here the great unwashed were winding down further (if that was possible) lolling about on the groundsheet and drinking tea?
I left them all to it and went into the cool of the Cathedral. This is a very wide church, so it is a bit like standing in a whale’s mouth.

Minimal setting up needed except for the lights and the harmonium. There were steps complete with red carpeting already in situ.
This was the last performance and so was to be followed by an American supper, or Auberge Espagnole as it is called over here. This was to be located in the parish rooms, which again doubled as the changing room.

The usual routine of warm up, admire the way our harmonium seems has slightly detuned, get changed, float about a bit, then it was time to file onto the “stage for the last time”.
All I can say is that it we got to the end, missing out some bits along the way.

The usual applause, bows from the soloists etc and we had to do an encore by singing the last piece again.

The acoustics were not good for us, but were ok for the audience. The turn out was reasonably good. One interesting thing was that during the performance some people from the audience would march up to the front and take a flash photograph whilst the soloists were in full flow. I suspect that in the UK the tutts of shame or annoyance from the rest of the audience which would surely have accompanied such a manoeuvre would have driven these moneylenders from the Temple.
Eventually we filed back to the parish rooms, changed and got tucked in to the food and drink.
Once a French man or woman has secured a position around the table from which they can reach food, they stay put. Not like me who takes some and moves away to let others have a chance, and then never gets a chance to reach the table again.
One of the choir members is always banging on about his vin noir. Black wine.
He had been sitting near me during the Toulouse orchestra concert and I had asked him if he would be bringing along his vin noir. Turnd out of course it is not vin noir, but vin noix. Nut wine. We live and learn.
I took a little bit in my plastic cup, but at around 18% proof, and as I would be driving, I just had a little bit.
A lot of the women disapproved of the vin noix, and were tut-tutting. This was of course the cue for the men to launch into their Ariegeois drinking songs.
I moved outside to chat to one of the smokers. A bit later one of the ladies in the choir brought out the bass soloist to chat to me. He turned out to be Scottish, from Edinburgh. He had sung in the St Giles Cathedral choir there for 30 years. I asked him how he made a living. He told me that he had owned a shop on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, but had moved to France 7 years previously, He has set himself up in business as a dealer in antique playing cards, and carries out his business over the internet.
I did not ask him if there was a living to be made from it.
Soon afterwards I headed back home, leaving the noise, heat and the empty plates and bottles behind me.

Oh, I forgot to update you on the Miss France situation. She has been allowed to keep her title. You can now resume normal sleep patterns.


  1. I can't remember. But probably the most good looking one is the safest answer :-)How else can I preserve the air of mystique?


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