Sunday, 13 December 2009

The old contes

Last night our local resident’s amicable society put on a storytelling evening.

A group of 5 storytellers travelled down from Toulouse to entertain us with an hour and a half of stories.

The event took place in the local primary school main hall. Tickets were 2 euros per adult and free for the under 15’s. I got there 10 minutes before kick-off and installed myself in the third row from the front.

The scene was set with a black velvet cloth strung across the end of the room as a backdrop. There was a table with a propped up, open book. Pairs of socks hung from the top edge of the backdrop and there was a small Christmas tree.

The hall filled up rapidly and children outnumbered adults about 3 to 1. The youngest children there would have been about 4 years old and would prove to have a limited attention span for this sort of thing.

The lights were dimmed and 2 portable spot lights lit the “stage”. Out trooped 4 women and a man, each carrying a small stone lamp with a candle burning inside it.

There followed a mixture of carols, rhymes, mottos and of course, stories.

Being that this was France, none of the stories were in English, but I understood most of what was said.

They tried their best. They spoke rather quietly, so I don’t know if my 87 year old friend Rene who was a few rows further back than me, heard it all.

One of the ladies “froze” occasionally as though she had forgotten what came next, but just as I had decided that I had had enough of concentrating, the stories finished. The hour and a half was actually an hour.

I had never heard any of the stories before, but C the mother of my French family, said that she had heard all of them except one.

I now know that spiders were responsible for today’s custom of hanging garlands on Christmas trees. How St Nicholas brought three lost children who had been butchered by a butcher and their body parts hung to cure in his cellar for 7 years, back to life. No body knows what happened to the greedy mother and daughter who had demanded strawberries, violets and red apples in January. They lost their way in the snow and were never seen again...... The Cinderella type daughter that they left behind them got their cottage and a year later she married a handsome young man who was passing by, looking for work. There was also a tale of a teddy bear who was mistreated by the girl who owned him, ran away into the snowy night and ended up helping the Santa Queen to deliver presents. Of course the presents ran out just as they reached the house of a very sick little girl. Of course it was a far far better thing and a far far better place etc and teddy made the ultimate sacrifice, jumping into the little girl’s stocking which was hanging in the fireplace.

I chatted to Rene and his wife afterwards and he said that it brought back his childhood.

The next event will be in 2010 with a drink and galette to celebrate the New Year. The round galettes contain one or two small china figures, so you have to watch when you bite into a piece. If you find one of the figures you will have good fortune, and / or a broken tooth. Who says I’m not a romantic?
What? all of you?       Bast****ds!!!


  1. now this actually sounded like a halfway enjoyable evening. I want one of these in my town. harumph, at least you could have had a drop of sympathy for a lonely petite Americaine and invited me. harumph double!

  2. There were already enough restless petites in the audience


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