A blast from the past

I am going to cheat a little on this blog post, and re-post one I wrote on the previous incarnation of The View from the Teapot, back in 2009.

Around here there are quite a few chapels dedicated to St Roch, and various statues and stained glass windows showing this fine saint.

I had previously mentioned St Roch in a post about the death of our beloved cat, Pumpkin. I wrote: If I know Pumpkin, she’ll already be playing Fetch with St Francis and St Roch and his dog. (I really will tell you about St Roch some day. He’s an excellent Saint.)

So a few days later I posted this:

ONE MAN AND HIS DOG

OK, so I’ve promised you the story of St Roch. I thought he was a local saint as he features in many of the local chapels/churches around here, but according to Wikipedia (that Fount of all Knowledge) he was born in Montpellier. He is apparently the patron saint of surgeons, apothecaries, road pavers, furriers,second-hand clothes dealers, wool carders and is the Protector of Animals. (I can’t help wondering exactly how a saint becomes linked to certain trades… I understand the surgeons/apothecary link, as you will after Storytime, but Road menders?! It beats me…)

Anyway, Saint Roch was a rich young man, who was orphaned at an early age. He was studying to be a Doctor, but, as all good saints do, decided to give it all up and become a pilgrim and give everything to the Poor. He travelled through Italy and when the country was ravaged by the Plague he stayed and helped the sick and dying. When St Roch contracted the plague he heroically emulated the good people of Eyam (although as he came first, they emulated him…) and separated himself from the local populace and went to live in a forest. (Edited in 2018 to add: In another retelling of the story, it was the local populaace who rather unsympatrhetically – as he’d been looking after them – rejected St Roch and forced him into the forest.) Unfortunately the sick and dying (and their relatives) weren’t terribly grateful for his thoughtfulness, and shunned him, so he was slowly dying of both plague and starvation.

But, never fear, Gentle Reader, because there was a dog (let’s call him Spot) who decided to help St Roch, providing him with bread taken daily from the table of his master. Without this, St Roch would surely have died. One day, Spot’s master, intrigued by the disappearing bread, followed him into the forest and found St Roch, still, I assume, plague-ridden. Spot’s master took St Roch into his home, and the saint was miraculously cured of the plague.

Although cured, he was horribly disfigured by the plague, and is now always shown demonstrating a plague scar (on his leg) and usually revealing blue undergarments. Spot stayed with him for the rest of his life, and there is apparently a saying “c’est saint Roch et son chien” (“They’re like St Roch and his dog”) when talking about two inseparable friends.

This is a statue of St Roch and Spot at Notre Dame l’Hermitage. He’s got his cockle shell for pilgrimage, his blue knickers and he’s showing off his plague scar. And look! There’s Spot with his barm cake for St Roch.

At Cervieres (mentioned in a post a while back) there’s a stained glass window showing St Roch and Spot. In it Spot appears to be carrying not a barm cake, but rather a Jammy Dodger. So now we talk about St Roch and his Holy Jammy Dodger. I hope that’s not blasphemous!

As St Roch is the Protector of animals, and as I’m sure Spot’s got into Heaven, I reckon Pumpkin will be having fun with them all. I have a picture in my mind of God trying to do God-like things, and Pumpkin around his feet, mithering and meeowing for attention as she always did.

“For Heaven’s sake, Pumpkin, go and mither Jesus for a while. He’s not doing anything important!”

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Misunderstandings and misconceptions…

Just a quick post today…

I thought this was fun…but also demonstrates the subtleties of language that non-native speakers don’t pick up on. I’ve always had difficulty explaining that there is no real difference between “That’s pretty good” and “That’s not bad”.

Mayber this is why international negotiations sometimes go awry.

Enthusiasm

Well, the World Cup is over, football’s not coming home, and France has won.

I’m not a football watcher – although I did sit through a few matches this year, mostly while inspecting FB, or snoozing! – but Mr FD is. Amusingly, having told me that “there are only a few matches I’m interested in” he proceeded to watch practically all of them. Of course, the England matches were accompanied by cries of both joy and anguish, and not a few rude words.

I didn’t watch the final, as I was cooking dinner (Hairy Dieters’ Thai Prawn Curry, with loads of veggies), but, although I live in France, I had a sneaking wish for Croatia to win, as I always support the underdog. And while Croatia are a good team, I think they were seen as being inferior to France.

Well, it was easy to tell that France had won, from the noise coming from the Capricorne bar opposite. Cheers, horns, shouting, singing….Fairly obviously quite a lot of liquid refreshment had been taken! Then the yoofs on their tiny 10CC(or whatever) motorbikes started buzzing up and down the road, making sounds like frustrated hornets and tooting their horns. This went on for quite a while.

It was a pleasure watching Macron, the President of France, and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, president of Croatia, greet the players – big hugs of commisseration for the second place Croatians, with tears being shed by all. Encouraging words were spoken, and sincere handshakes given, as the rain poured down.

But most of all, I love the enthusiasm shown by Macron as the final whistle was blown – not standing up, not standing on his seat, but leaping onto the desk in front of him!

I think he was a bit pleased!

Sobering thoughts

Every day I go to Tracing Rainbows, Ang’s blog, where she posts faithfully on a daily basis. She blogs about all number of topics – crafting, recycling, her family, her faith – there is always something interesting to read.

Today she writes about family – the importance of family, the joy of seeing the Thai boys, who were rescued from the cave, reunited with their families, the pain of seeing children separated from their parents by the Trump administration. Ang explains this is why she joined the protests against Donald Trump’s visit to the UK. I don’t usually comment, but today I did.

I wrote supporting her attendance at the anti-Trump protests, and said that I see Trump’s administration as evil – I find the man distasteful, his attitudes are to be decried, he appears to be racist, xenophobic, mysogynistic, a liar, and unintelligent. His government, and others like it, seem to be fuelling the far right, fascist parts of our society, giving them permission to air their fear mongering, hate filled policies and beliefs.

This chilling piece – it is long, but it is worth reading – was written by Fintan O’Toole, published in the Irish Times on July 8th

“To grasp what is going on in the world right now, we need to reflect on two things. One is that we are in a phase of trial runs. The other is that what is being trialled is fascism – a word that should be used carefully but not shirked when it is so clearly on the horizon. Forget “post-fascist” – what we are living with is pre-fascism.

It is easy to dismiss Donald Trump as an ignoramus, not least because he is. But he has an acute understanding of one thing: test marketing. He created himself in the gossip pages of the New York tabloids, where celebrity is manufactured by planting outrageous stories that you can later confirm or deny depending on how they go down. And he recreated himself in reality TV where the storylines can be adjusted according to the ratings. Put something out there, pull it back, adjust, go again.

Fascism doesn’t arise suddenly in an existing democracy. It is not easy to get people to give up their ideas of freedom and civility. You have to do trial runs that, if they are done well, serve two purposes. They get people used to something they may initially recoil from; and they allow you to refine and calibrate. This is what is happening now and we would be fools not to see it.
One of the basic tools of fascism is the rigging of elections – we’ve seen that trialled in the election of Trump, in the Brexit referendum and (less successfully) in the French presidential elections. Another is the generation of tribal identities, the division of society into mutually exclusive polarities.

Fascism does not need a majority – it typically comes to power with about forty percent support and then uses control and intimidation to consolidate that power. So it doesn’t matter if most people hate you, as long as your forty percent is fanatically committed. That’s been tested out too.

And fascism of course needs a propaganda machine so effective that it creates for its followers a universe of “alternative facts” impervious to unwanted realities. Again, the testing for this is very far advanced.
But when you’ve done all this, there is a crucial next step, usually the trickiest of all. You have to undermine moral boundaries, inure people to the acceptance of acts of extreme cruelty. Like hounds, people have to be blooded. They have to be given the taste for savagery.

Fascism does this by building up the sense of threat from a despised out-group. This allows the members of that group to be dehumanised. Once that has been achieved, you can gradually up the ante, working through the stages from breaking windows to extermination.

People have to be given the taste for savagery. Fascism does this by building up the sense of threat from a despised out-group.

It is this next step that is being test-marketed now. It is being done in Italy by the far-right leader and minister for the interior Matteo Salvini. How would it go down if we turn away boatloads of refugees? Let’s do a screening of the rough-cut of registering all the Roma and see what buttons the audience will press. And it has been trialled by Trump: let’s see how my fans feel about crying babies in cages. I wonder how it will go down with Rupert Murdoch.

To see, as most commentary has done, the deliberate traumatisation of migrant children as a “mistake” by Trump is culpable naivety. It is a trial run – and the trial has been a huge success. Trump’s claim last week that immigrants “infest” the US is a test-marketing of whether his fans are ready for the next step-up in language, which is of course “vermin”.

And the generation of images of toddlers being dragged from their parents is a test of whether those words can be turned into sounds and pictures. It was always an experiment – it ended (but only in part) because the results were in.

And the results are quite satisfactory. There is good news on two fronts. First, Rupert Murdoch is happy with it – his Fox News mouthpieces outdid themselves in barbaric crassness: making animal noises at the mention of a Down syndrome child, describing crying children as actors. They went the whole swinish hog: even the brown babies are liars. Those sobs of anguish are typical of the manipulative behaviour of the strangers coming to infest us – should we not fear a race whose very infants can be so devious?

Second, the hardcore fans loved it: Fifty-eight percent of Republicans are in favour of this brutality. Trump’s overall approval ratings are up to 42.5 per cent.
This is greatly encouraging for the pre-fascist agenda. The blooding process has begun within the democratic world. The muscles that the propaganda machines need for defending the indefensible are being toned up. Millions and millions of Europeans and Americans are learning to think the unthinkable.

So what if those black people drown in the sea? So what if those brown toddlers are scarred for life? They have already, in their minds, crossed the boundaries of morality. They are, like Macbeth, “yet but young in deed”. But the tests will be refined, the results analysed, the methods perfected, the messages sharpened. And then the deeds can follow.”

Let us protect our freedom with all our democratic power, and continue to be brave with everything we must face.

 

Leaving aside the problem that the use of “men” in this quotation might bring up (let’s assume that the author was talking about humankind) this is so true.

And yet…

I feel helpless. In the midst of what is going on in the world, the hate, the lies, the rise of fascism – and dear God, could what happened before happen again? Is that what we are being cajoled into supporting?! – what can I do, here in my house in the middle of France?

I suppose I can do the small things for now – supporting charities that promote love and support the homeless (PC4R), fighting where I can for justice (Amnesty International) and speaking out against even the tiniest bit of opinion that talks about refugees and migrants as “vermin” or “undeserving” Not letting it pass “because I don’t know how to say it in French”.

Leaving aside the problem that the use of “man” in this quotation might bring up (let’s assume AGAIN that the author was talking about humankind) this too is true. Every person on this earth has a part to play and we cannot, we must not, separate ourselves from the suffering of others. As Christians, as Muslims, as Jews, as atheists, as those who aren’t sure, we should be fully involved, fully implicated, fully engaged in alleviating the pain and anguish that others are experiencing.We shouldn’t see them as “other people”, or “different to us” – they are part of this earth as much as we are, and are as fully deserving of our respect and our support as our neighbour, our friends or our family.

It’s just that I don’t really know what I can do…

Words, words, words!

I was reading back over old posts, and came across this one which I rather liked “The A-Z of me” It was fun to write, and quite a lot of people commented on it.

In the post I linked to a site which gives definitions of archaic & obscure words.

I thought I’d share a couple with you that I liked…

  • DONTOPEDOLOGY: “putting one’s foot in one’s mouth” !! I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of that from time to time – but I hadn’t realised there was a specific word for it!
  • PILLIWINKS – this sounds such a sweet little thing. It could be a pet name for one’s lover, or something you say to your child. No, this is defined as “a torture instrument for crushing fingers” Ouch!
  • YESTERTEMPEST – “immediately preceding the last tempest” – this seems very precise! Not the last rainfall, or the last bit of bad weather, but the last tempest. I wonder if that “yester” was used more in the past meaning “immediately preceding —-” and so “yesterday” was initially “yestertoday”

But, I still think my favourite is the word “ucalegon” , which, as I wrote back in 2015, has the very specific meaning “a neighbour whose house is on fire”. Not just “neighbour”, not “neighbour in trouble”, but “neighbour whose house is on fire”. I would imagine that the number of times one can use this word is very limited!

“Quick! Phone the fire brigade!! We have an ucalegon!”

(Don’t worry about the photo – everyone escaped from this house fire safely)

 

Here are a couple more obscure words that appeal – can you find ways of inserting them into everyday conversation?!

 

Apologies for this final text box which is something I can’t get rid of. There’s probably a word for that!!

Long ago, in time…

A comment that Michelle made, on my Wedding Anniversary post, has inspired this post. She said: I LOVE seeing old photos like this! 

And so…

For our 25th Wedding Anniversary, back in 2010, we had a party, and made a montage of various photos taken from our photo albums. I used to love putting together scrapbooks of our holidays, and so in order to make the montage a friend & I raided the albums. I always meant to put the photos back in the books, but 8 years after the event, it’s still on the wall:

As always, you can click on the pictures to biggify them…

So I thought I’d share a few of the photos with you.

1985

This one is another from our Wedding Day – a closer up of me with my Nana’s hairstyle and Deirdre Barlow glasses. (For those who don’t know, Deirdre Barlow was a character in the long-running soap Coronation Street, well-known for her huge glasses)

She had a difficult life, and spent a lot of time on screen looking anguished!

I’m happy to say, I look less anguished that Deirdre in my wedding photos!

The next two photos I chose because I thought I knew exactly when & where they were taken, but on looking through the Holiday scrapbooks I see I was wrong!

1992

Here is a very youthful looking Mr FD. This was taken when we were on holiday in France, in a village called Montferrat (which we revisited last year) in the Var region of France. This photo was taken on 17th August, in the village of Montaureaux – we had spent the day at a Medieval Fair, where I had painted a pot (which I still have!) which was then fired in a Medieval-like way. We booked to eat the “Menu du repas des Tavernes” eaten on long tables underneath the trees. I stuck the menu into my scrapbook, and read that we ate:

  • Sur un lit de feuilles de salades variées du potager de Monsieur le Duc, Riz de Piémont aux raisins secs. Melange paysan avec poisson au sénevé, graines de Turquie, poivrons, concombres, et tomates de nos campagnes (Served on a bed of mixed salad leaves from the vegetable plot of the Duke, rice from Piedmont with raisins. Peasant mix (?) with fish with senevé mustard, grains from Turkey (which is what sweetcorn was known as in the Middle Ages – or, alternatively, what the menu devisers chose to call sweetcorn!), red peppers, cucumber and local tomatoes)
  • Roti de lapin des terres du Seigneur de Tournon, tranche de boeuf cuit à la braise, accompagnée des sauces au genièvre, cannelle et oignonnets ( Roast rabbit, from the land of the Lord of Tournon, slice of braised beef, accompanied by a sauce of juniper, cinnamon, and little onions) – I’m not sure whether we had to choose one or theother, or whether we got both!
  • Tartouste aux sarments, qu’enrobe une crème à la ciboulette ( a type of young potato, covered with a chive cream – I suspect these may have been baked potatoes, as often  these are served with a chive cream here in France)
  • Fromage à la Province Briarde (Cheese from Briarde)
  • Galette Paysanne aux fruits rouges ( Red fruit tart)

It was at this place that this photo was taken of me, presumably somewhere at the top of the Chateau of the Duke:

and here’s a photo from t’internet of the village:

Do you have places that you associate with pieces of music? For me, I remember a long straight road back from this village to our holiday appartment in Montferrat, and that road is associated with the Proclaimers’ “Letter from America”. I don’t know why it should be that those two things are interlinked, why I should particularly remember the song being played there, at that moment, as we no doubt listened to it several times during the holiday, but when I think of the song, I think of the road!

1998

This photo was taken on 20th August, while we were on a family holiday with Mr FD’s side of the family. We stayed in a village called Ambazac, in the Limousin region of France. That was the year I paraglided from the top of Puy de Dome! We shared a gite together (me & Mr FD, Mr FD’s brother & SiL, and MiL & FiL) We generally had a good time, partly because we didn’t do everything together. I find out that (either altogether, or just me & Mr FD) among our activities, we visited the town of Limoges, we went to the very sobering place that is Oradour-sur-Glane , we went on cycle rides (I seem to have actually chosen to go on quite long rides, which surprises me!), we went on a steam train, we went to a folk festival at Confolens, and we saw the start of the Tour de Limousin.

I particularly remember the day (and the following night) of the train ride. You see, my BiL is diabetic, and, although he manages his illness well, needs to eat at regular intervals to avoid either hyperglycemia, or hypoglycemia ( hypo is when the  blood sugar levels are too high, hyper…is when the blood sugar levels are too low) We took the train in the afternoon, to Eymoutiers, planning to eat in a restaurant there; however, there was some sort of festival going on, and all the restaurants were booked up. The only sustenance that was on offer was wine and chips. Which we partook of, before (presumably) getting the train home again.

That night, we were awoken by a terrible groaning noise, and lots of thrashing about from the bedroom next to ours. We rushed in, to find SiL (who is quite small and slight) trying to force Lucozade into BiL (who is neither small nor slight) who was fighting her off with some force – while still asleep! He was having some sort of diabetic crisis. Finally everything settled down, but of course it took us a long time to get back to sleep afterwards. In the morning, everyone was very bleary eyed, except for BiL who declared that he’d had the best night’s sleep that he’d had for a long time!! Good for you, was the reply.

Anyway, back to the photo. My scrapbook informs me that the photo was taken at the Restaurant La Chanterelle, not too far from the gite. That night I ate:

  • Mousse de Saint Jacques (scallop mousse)
  • foie gras
  • entrecote (steak)
  • fromage
  • Iles Flottantes (Floating Islands – a dessert made of creme anglaise, soft meringue, caramel sauce. Like this:

Well, I’ve really enjoyed this short trip down memory lane, and  I think I may well be doing some more similar posts!

*Meh*

I want to write a blog post, but I have no idea what to write about. Does anyone have anything they’d like to know about me? Do please put a question in the comments section.

What else?

These are the things I have done so far today:

  • got up a bit late (8.30)
  • drank half a peach/banana/raspberry smoothie
  • went to the Post Office to post a zentangle commission (earning a bit of money for this one!)
  • went for my 1.25 km walk (only one pause to catch my breath today, but still very slow!)
  • bought bread
  • drank the rest of the smoothie
  • faffed about on the computer
  • sorted out my knickers & socks
  • saw the podiatrist, as where she’d cut my ingrowing toenails was looking a little infected.
  • had lunch (chicken rillette sandwich, bowl of tomato/carrot/sweet potato/lentil soup, slice of pannetone)
  • watched (and snoozed through) an episode of “Bargain Hunt”, that I didn’t really want to watch.

Oh! The excitement!! I can hardly bear it!

On the agenda for this afternoon & this evening (possibly):

  • finish a rather tedious book. I’d give up on it, but it’s a NetGalley book, and I am obliged to write a review. I’m not impressed by it, unfortunately.
  • have a snooze, as I didn’t sleep very well last night. Although having a snooze probably won’t help me to sleep well tonight!
  • start another zentangle (does anyone want one? Let me know! I prefer doing one with a purpose)
  • half heartedly tidy up my desk.
  • have dinner (the rest of the lasagne from Saturday)
  • watch some TV.

I’m feeling a bit “meh” at the moment…not really motivated to do anything much…partly the weather (it is alternating between grey and drizzly, grey and raining, and grey and pissing down.) and partly the effects of treatment. I have my appointment about radiotherapy on Wednesday – I’ll find out when the radiotherapy starts, and how many sessions I’ll be having.

Still, lots to look forward to…

  • going to Annecy at the end of June with the Cycle Club – & meeting up with Chomeuse & her Chou!
  • Mum & my sister coming, at the beginning of September
  • going away (probably Italy) at the end of September
  • going to Convention – with the excitement of electing a new Bishop)  – in Waterloo, in October
  • possibly going to Amsterdam in October half term
  • going to Christmas Markets in Strasbourg at the beginning of December
  • starting back at work in October – things will be different as M. Khodri, the director of the language school, is retiring. The new directors may want to employ me (or not!) on a different basis. We shall see.