There seemed to be a particularly good turnout this year and our village is increasing in population every year so it is always good to see the arrival of young families but, as ever, perhaps 70 - 80% of the people there were over 70 or 80 years old.
The evening started as it always does, with the microphone not working, then working at 70 decibels with a cacophony of static and feedback, and then at last all was sorted and our new Madame Mayor could begin her welcome speech. She gave us a review of what she had spent our taxes on last year, and what she was going to spend them on this year, and then thanked her team for helping her spend our money. (To be fair, the village now has an excellent new school, revamped ‘youth club’ and a new washbasin in the village hall so they seem to be doing a good job).
This was followed by a tribute to somebody called Helène who had just retired from the primary school. After several false starts when we saw what seemed to be the entire contents of somebody’s personal computer, a video was projected on a screen and we watched pupils and ex-pupils delivering messages of thanks and appreciation. We all applauded at the end, expecting to see the obviously much loved Helène arrive to receive a handshake and a bouquet of flowers from the Mayor. But nothing happened.
And finally it was the moment we had all been waiting for - Madame the Mayor announc
ed the end of the formal part of the evening and invited us all to participate in the ‘glass of friendship’. It seemed only natural that we ‘young ones’ helped to stack the chairs vacated by the ‘old ones’. Big mistake. This gave them a head start towards the buffet and despite their age they all seemed capable of moving at very high speed and surrounded the tables like a flock of greedy seagulls.
There was some food left by the time we got there and it was delicious. In previous years there were perhaps a few crisps, dried up bits of meat, tepid wine, but this year there was a wonderful spread of mini canapés, charcuterie, terrine, bread etc and lots of bottles of wine from the local Cave - and not the cheap stuff either, but the ‘La Reserve’! And just when it looked as if the food was nearly finished, the ‘Galettes des Rois’ arrived (the traditional frangipane pastry cakes), which meant that the flock of seagulls immediately surrounded the tables again. And to accompany this, they produced bottles of excellent sparkling wine.
Unfortunately, thanks to Brexit, I am no longer allowed to vote in local elections but if I could, this Mayor would definitely be re-elected - if only for her excellent choice in ‘refreshments’.