Southern Times gives an anglophone view on life in the mediterranean South of France. Read our diaries from the Languedoc, check our agendas for coming events.
Sunday 17 February 2008, by The Frogman
February in the Herault is a mixed season with cold jacket and jumper days interspersed with bright sun teeshirt and shorts surprises - almost an English spring.
The cicadas have not begun to chant, the swallows are neither arriving nor leaving in their swooping swishing clouds. Work in the vines is restricted to pruning. The world is quiet.
Smoke from wood burning fires still curls up from the village rooves, a time for walks, a time for talks and meetings in quiet spaces.
We have elections coming up for the mayors and councils of our villages, first round on the 9th of March, political feathers are being straightened and made brilliant ready for the louder brighter courting displays of early March.
EEC (common market) citizens who are residents in France can vote in these elections. Over the last 20 years In the Herault there has been a very large influx of British citizens. Most of these buying houses in the small villages.
Hence, in the villages of less than 1000 heads, the English vote is beginning to be recognised as valuable.
Last night, all the English residents of our village were invited to a meeting arranged by an ex and would be mayor to ’meet one another’ and discuss the evolution of the village.
Like all small communities, issues are local, which side of the village - North or South - a new development should be built, speed of cars coming through the village, dogs and dogshit in the village streets.Nobody is banning imports from Montpellier or declaring war on Perpignan.
This is, however, a Mediterranean region, where bulls still run through the streets and emotions , old loyalties, feuds run faster and higher and deeper than the bulls.
Thus it was in the half light of the early evening we headed round towards our salle de fetes to be met and guided by one of the would be councillors into a dimly lit garage far away from the prying eyes of mortals.We were told that the meeting was being held there because if it took place in the light of a public place it would be disrupted and the would be councillors would be howled down by ’wolves’.
After all issues had been discussed, all issues being why the new development should not be built where the present mayor plans to buid it and that it should be moved from the North side of the village to the south side, pertinent questions were asked.
Who are the would be councillors on the Mayor’s electoral council list? This was tricky, the would be mayor explained it had to remain secret, because otherwise his supporters and would be councillors would be reviled in the streets, probably have their gabardines spat upon and certainly be prey to the "wolves".
It was then proposed that if we had any friends that might or should be interested and knew of a fine and private place like a well hidden garage, meetings could be held to further the cause - viral garage marketing strategy.
February is a curious month.
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