Bourigeole with it's population of ? certainly less than seventy, always manages to hold a fete of great geniality.
There were over two hundred and fifty folk squashed into the little square by the church: rows of tables, white paper cloths, bring your own plates, etc. The formula never changes, I must have been going there for eight years now. It doesn't as a rule rain, the disco man 'Arizona' is always set up, his wood cut-out cactus and speakers a stark contrast to the slumbering hills behind, and there are the faces I only see once a year.
The black village dog looks a little older and the plants round the back near the loo are a little taller. We sit down after the indecisive shuffling about who sits where and the 'bandas' strikes up. For those who don't know, Bandas is a group of mainly brass players, far removed from the Grimethorpe colliery band. Loud, raucous, with a relentless thump-thump beat, they steer the crowd through the familiar repertoire, which must include the infamous. 'la boiteuse'.
This is a song which recounts the various meanderings of an elderly woman with a limp, who when on entering the market at say, Limoux, proceeds to show her, er . . . nether regions to everyone, which are deemed to be most attractive?? This was translation given to me by someone who was very drunk at our carnival sorti, but it has been verified to be thus . . .
At this point I refuse the ice cream, feel left out and then go and find one. More bandas, then everyone in a wartime spirit, moves the furniture into a shed and rolls up the paper clothes cleverly encapsulating: food debris, mobile phones, sunglasses and anything else left behind.
Disco man puts on 'musette' music and we all spin around emulating (badly), the old folks who are elegantly cruising the floor.
By now it is time I would be falling asleep in front of a film, but we wait for something that is possible to dance to: YES, this will do: the French know all the moves, the tune morphs into a Boney M medley and I feel a need to visit the loo. After queuing for the one cubicle for fifteen minutes I return to find everyone dancing to YMCA with all the gesticulations.
I sit down, despairing of him ever putting on Fat Boy Slim, and stare up at the black sky punctuated by pinholes of silver light, imagining over the whole of France how many of these little village events are happening at this point.