La Montagne et Moi: La Vedette


C’est la fête au village’ (it’s party time in the village). The Auberge has organized a public theatre & music festival to ‘fêter la trentaine’ (celebrate the 30th birthday) of one of their friends. Our modest population ‘a explosé de 50 à 500’ (has exploded from 50 to 500) for the weekend. My daughter and I have offered to ‘prêter main forte’ (muck in) and together with about 20 other ‘bénévoles’ (volunteers), we will be responsible for ‘accueillir, nourrir, informer et héberger’ (welcoming, feeding, informing and sheltering) people ‘au cours du’ (over the) weekend.

Artists have come ‘d’ici et d’ailleurs’ (from near and far) to show off their ‘marionnettes’ (puppets), ‘chansons’ (songs) and ‘pièces de théâtre’ plays. When I’m on the ‘accueil’ (welcome desk) I manage to see some of the ‘représentations’ (performances) ‘du coin de l’oeil’ (out of the corner of my eye). On the first afternoon, the audience is hushed and attentive, then suddenly they ‘s’explosent de rires’ (burst out laughing). ‘Je me tords le cou’ (I crane my neck) to see what’s happening and realise that ‘notre chat’ (our cat) has decided to sit on ‘la scène’ (the stage), ‘aux pieds nus du marionnettiste’ (at the puppeteer’s bare feet) and she’s patting lazily at his toes and at one of the many ‘ficelles de marionette’ (puppet-strings). ‘Que faire?’ (What to do?) Should I interrupt the performance and retrieve ‘la vedette surprise’ (the surprise star of the show)? ‘Le marrionnettiste fait tourner sa marionette vers le chat et lui penche la tête avec adresse’ (The puppeteer skilfully turns his puppet towards the cat and cocks its head). ‘Dorenévant’ (from now on), the cat ‘fait partie de’ (has become part of) the performance!

My Englishness only gets in the way once or twice. I hear that we are to have an ‘autowash’ and I ‘pense tout haut’ (wonder out loud) if I will have time to ‘filer’ (nip off) to get my car spruced up. “I don’t think that the car will ‘rentrer dans la bassine’ (fit in the washing-up bowl) sniggers the person next to me, ‘montrant du doigt’ (pointing to) the self-service washing-up bowl. Another time, I try to queue for a ‘sandwich-merguez’ (spicy sausage sandwich). After half an hour of other people getting served I get fed up and shout out ‘Oh! Par ici! ‘Hey – over here!’ which miraculously results in immediate sandwich service.

Our mystery ‘invité’ (guest) turns out to be a ‘poet-rapper’ called Archibald. I understand about ‘un mot sur trois’ (every third word) that he sings but I get ‘l’essentiel’ (the gist). Despite his rather furious ‘paroles’ (lyrics), he is extremely polite & tidy and ‘on ne le remarque guère’ (we hardly notice that he’s there). He leaves us a CD ‘pour nous remercier’ (to say thank you) before heading off to another ‘résidence’ which I at first think is his second home (which would clash somewhat with his ‘rhetorique’ (rhetoric) until he explains that he is ‘artiste resident’ (an artist-in-residence) and ‘je rougis’ (I blush).

By the end of the weekend we have re-washed ‘un tas de vaisselle’ (loads of crockery) – the autowash being ‘pas très efficace’ (not terribly efficient) and welcomed countless visitors to ‘our’ village. ‘Je me suis enrhumée’ (I have caught cold) but the way that my daughter and I have been accepted in to the village community (warms my heart).