7 months ago


“Probably his mum,”

“Probably his mum,” I whispered to Bill. His playing was simple. I don’t imagine he had been learning long, but he played confidently, not looking at the people gathering around, concentrating on his bowing. Round the corner was a square with a stage. ‘Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho’ sang out a choir, swaying to the rhythm. We tapped our feet and enjoyed several other spirituals before moving on. In our lunchtime square sat a chamber group in black ties peacefully playing, probably Vivaldi. It could have been incongruous, but the respectful hush was akin to being in a concert hall. Every space, large or small, or just a shop doorway, was occupied by people making music, a seemingly neverending round of surprises: three young girls – eleven perhaps – played recorders, young men playing blues and rag time, and an accordionist attracting a crowd. Bill swept me into a waltz, to the smile of people around, then others joined in until there were quite a few of us dancing, smiling as we passed each other. Somewhat reluctantly we left to see what else there might be. But what was this? The unmistakeable sound of castanets. And yes, there were flamenco dancers in their long flounced dresses, arching their backs and twirling their hands way above their heads while stamping imperatively with their feet. This we had to stop to watch. Suddenly my attention was caught by a plaque on the wall announcing that here in September 1944 five Resistance members were shot by the occupying enemy. This sent a little chill down my spine. I pointed it out, quietly, to Bill who read it and shrugged, his eyes fastened on the slim body of the nearest dancer. 20

Around midnight we felt sated, so we wandered back to Evita. The first band was still playing, but now the beat was ragged, the uniforms no longer pristine, and the trumpeter’s face purple from exertion. As we unlocked our door, I said, “And to think, chéri, we have this to look forward to every June for the rest of our lives!” Two days later, it was so hot we decided to stop at a campsite where there was a swimming pool. The evening was balmy so we wandered towards the village. “Listen,” Bill said stopping. “What can you hear?” Cicadas, thrumming busily in the dry warm air. “A marker we’re in France!” We looked at each other excitedly. A very different sound emanated from the square: the sound of revelry. There was a table laid for perhaps seventy or more people all ages sitting eating together. An amazing sight. An old lady, seeing us standing watching, beckoned us over. “Bonjour. Anglais?” We nodded. Yes, well, Scottish… “Welcome.” She beckoned a young man over and offered us a glass of wine. “Santé! “How kind. Thank you, madame. But please tell me, what are you celebrating?” “Our village. Being together.” As we left Bill said, “I wonder if one day we’ll be celebrating being part of our village, wherever that may be.” “Oh, I do hope so.” 21