Friday, May 21, 2010

Mirepoix, Extermination and Collingwood

I feel that I have not done Mirepoix the attention it deserves. As stated earlier, there is nothing wildly exciting about this sleepy bastide town. Folks seem to go about their daily tasks with a modicum of good humour. There seems to be a procession of festivals and market days that offer just the right mixture of variation to prevent the locals from going mental. Kids play some sort of ball game or other in the narrow streets and ladies bring their chairs out into the streets of an evening to chat with neighbours and to offer reluctantly smiling 'bon soir's to eager young tourists (ie us) as they make theirvway home from a hard day's sight-seeing/touring the country-side.

Ken received a full-blown mouthful of French invective from a young lass today. She emerged from a house round the corner outside which Ken had parked his car for a few days in succession. Sadly for the nose-out-of-joint French lass, the scorn was totally lost on Ken, who understood exactly zero percent of the message she intended to convey. He parked his car elsewhere nontheless. The young lass drove off and Ken will probably never see her again. Ken reported that she mentioned the word 'fenetre', which means 'window' most often. This probaby means that Ken really understood more of the interaction that he has let on ...

The past week has comprised a lot of motor rambling, mostly to castles and chateaux with the Cunninghams in their car. It has more leg-room in the back seat and is fitted with a glass sun-roof, so mountain viewing is facilitated more than the Megane than the Clio.
Today was spent tootling eastwards towards the coast, where we visited castles perched hundreds of metres on the top of pointy crags overlooking vast valleys and little villages below. These were once the homes of Cathars, who were able to defend themselves by firing arrows at and drop boiling hot oil on, anti-Cathar-oriented people (especially Catholics) in the 10th to 12th Centuries. It took 100 years to eliminate these Cathars from the time of Simon de Montfort (who hailed from the Dordogne region - we saw his family chateau) to the implementation of the Inquisition. As mentioned earlier, no trace remains of them.

Now it seems to me that a little pattern is emerging here. Just the same as what the British did to the Scots hundreds of years ago, first you eliminate the entire population of peoplev who are mildly irritating and make it a hanging/burning-alive offence to practise all cultural aspects of the irritants' (eg Cathar/Scottish) life (eg engaging in Cathar religious ceremony or wearing the tartan kilt) and then hundreds of years later (when you are certain that not one irritant remains alive) you open tourist shops and sell rich tourists mementos of the by-gone era such as battle axes with Cathar emblems emblazoned on them (in southern France) or ties/scarves made of family tartan (in Scotland). This is double standards and hypocracy gone mad! Still, if there's a buck (euro/pound) to be made ... What chance do indigenous peoples of today (eg Ausralian aborigines, Inuit or Tootsies) have?

There's lots more to write about, but that will just have to wait till a later blog. I'm too tired to continue, especially after the thrashing dealt out to the Magpies by Geelong today. My goodness I was pleased for Geelong supporters all around the globe. How exaulted they must be feeling right now!



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