Camino de Madrid

Camino de Madrid
Camino de Madrid

Friday, 1 June 2018

Day 16. June 1, 2018. Montfaucon-en-Velay to Saint-Jeures. 20 kms

Broom is busting out all over

A fine gîte, the municipal Gîte Saint-Regis. Typical of many municipal gîtes, it was a modern facility in an old building that housed other communal programs as well. These villages are not short of old buildings. This one may once have been associated with the Chapelle Notre Dame next door, where instead of stations of the cross were twelve Flemish paintings (Abel Grimmer 1592), depicting the months of the year and each representing a Biblical scene. January reminded me a little of Bruegel. 

After supper last night, I had a very pleasant beer with Jean-Francois, a camerade du chemin I had met seven years ago on the Chemin d’Arles. He was driving from Geneva to Gaillac and made a detour to say hello.

It was all blue sky when I looked out the window this morning, but as I set out, heavy rain clouds were building up, always menacing, but they never came to anything. It was easy going at first, fairly flat along minor roads and farm lanes. And then, I came over a rise, and could see the volcanic plugs (les puys) in the distance which had given Le Puy its name. Eventually I arrived at Tence (below).

In the sun, when it shone, the broom was spectacular. It seems to have bloomed all at once. After borrowing the line from Carousel, I had Rogers and Hammerstein songs in my head all morning. I doubt if the musicals are performed much anymore, especially with songs like “Poor Judd is Dead”.

These are sensitive times. Gilbert and Sullivan’s great comic opera, The Mikado, will be performed this year in Victoria with a special prelude, probably explaining that the performers aren’t really making fun of the Japanese. Not that they ever were. But these are sensitive times.

Especially in Canada. A church not far from the Penny Farthing, the pub that serves Fat Tug beer, has had the Men’s and Women’s signs removed from the doors of the toilets, lest they offend anyone who doesn’t identify as either a man or a woman. The vast majority of us who do, have to interpret the new artistic symbols on the doors, representing urinals and sit-down toilets. Usually I choose the door with two of the former and one of the latter.

These are debatable issues. Not so, in my opinion, was something I observed in Tence this morning when I entered Le Grand Cafe for a petit cafe. It was a posh restaurant where they were getting ready for the noon customers. At the entrance to the dining area was a life-size model of a young man with a deferential smile, holding a waiter’s tray. He was black. He should have been cast into the bin of discarded racist artifacts on top of the golliwogs.

I grew up with golliwogs and racist rhymes like the earlier version of “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe”, and swarthy villains in the Enid Blyton books. We didn’t realize they were racist, of course, but I’m sure they had a subtle effect on us.

Tence is a busy bustling town. I could hardly find a break in the traffic to cross the street. I came out of the town and walked along the bank of the river for a while. Then I started to climb, nothing brutal, but in the undulating afternoon, there were more ups than downs. 

I came over a rise, and looked up towards the village of Saint-Jeures. Towards the right was the church steeple. On the left was the first of the volcanic plugs in the region. Tonight, I am staying at Gîte le Fougal.

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