Monday, 12 July 2010

Through a local lens No. 2

This bridge, across the Rue du Balad in the heart of the village, was built to enable the young Marie-Eloïse to nurse day and night her cousin Timoléon, a sergeant of Napoleonic cuirassiers. Their love-child was christened Marengo, after the battle in which Timoléon was severely wounded by Austrian grape-shot. Despite Marie-Eloïse's devotion, Timoléon succumbed a few hours after Marengo was born, just long enough to have taken the baby for a few fleeting moments in his failing arms.

This bridge was built to enable blind Balthazar's sons, who lived opposite, to wheel their orchestrion (a sort of automatic harmonium) across every evening to enable him to listen to the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria, without hearing which he was unable to compose himself to sleep.

This bridge was built to allow Mme Frot full observation of the passers-by. When M. Balzanelli passed beneath she would contrive to drop her lace handkerchief through the open window. Should he retrieve and return it, she would read the Tarot cards to him. Rarely would the import of her readings discourage closing the window and drawing the curtains.

This bridge was built to allow nuns of a closed Ursuline order to pass from their cells to the chapel for the night Offices unseen and undisturbed. The windows were added later, when the convent closed down.

Only one of these is true. But what is truth? People believe what they want to believe.

What is also true is that once, as part of a summer festival of music and drama conceived as a perambulation about the village, J. and I sang from the window to the crowd gathered beneath The Foggy Foggy Dew (in English) in impeccable 2-part harmony. However we felt that the ethereal beauty of the music was compromised by a grotesque, gargantuan pair of knickers hanging on the nearby line, as in the photo. We hadn't realised that ownership of this deliberately-placed prop was the basis of the drama club sketch which followed. Bubbles exist to be pricked.


Dave said...

This bridge (known as le Pont de Chaperon) was built to stop the buildings on either side of the road, which lean alarmingly, falling into each other's arms.

Rog said...

I plump for the Nun explanation. Or the first.
I don't for a minute believe the Foggy Foggy tale.
Nor the name Rue De Ballad, which was actually a Two Ronnies song.
And talking of Rue de Remarques, Dave has lost all sense of perspective.

Vicus Scurra said...

What a delightful way to begin the day.
Surely those undergarments were thrown at you in a fit of heightened sexual arousal by a comely local wench during your vocal performance. I wish that I had been there.
If the nuns were allowed to pass unseen, what did the locals do for entertainment in those bleak days prior to the invention of the electric television?

Tim Footman said...

Mme Frot? Oh puh-leaze...

Christopher said...

Is there no romance in your soul, Dave?

Rog: Quite right. Rue du Balad is genuine, too. Foggy Foggy Dew actually happened. Ask Vicus, he seems to know a great deal about it.

Vicus: Thank you. It's true, in the absence of visible nuns, the only pre-TV entertainment available to locals was scratching themselves. Maybe we could come and sing The Foggy Foggy Dew in your back garden, which I assume is licensed for musical entertainment?

Tim: I'm surprised. I've always thought you to be omniscient about such things. But then Homer nods occasionally. Cf.

Spadoman said...

I'd lovbe to hear you sinf Foggy Goggy Dew. Let me know next time that venue is in town.

What I find remarkable is that all of the stories are true because YOU told them. IUntil you set the stage that only one is right, I thought your narrative the entire history of this "bridge". You see, I trust you, (but not any more)

By the way, in nearby Minneapolis, Minnesota USA, there is a circuit of one story above street level walkways called the Skywalk. It connests the entire downtown, building to building, without have to navigate outdoors. Used year around, but made for the severe winetr weather here in the Northland.


Christopher said...

Thank you, Spadoman. When J. and I have sung in Vicus' back garden, maybe we can come and sing in yours? Back yard, that is?

I'm sorry - maybe I should never have started making things up. Once a teacher, always a teacher.

Pax vobiscum.

Incidentally, this comment thread isn't a gentlemen's club. Such a thing's probably illegal nowadays, like a magazine there used to be called Men Only. Where are are you, ladies?

Vicus Scurra said...

Yes, please come and sing. I may even invite you into the house.

Charlene said...

It's a gentleman's club until the women get up and get their work done!

I believe it was put there for a practical reason; probably the sons transport of their instrument, or maybe hiding the nuns.

There is, or used to be, a walkway like Spadoman describes in Cincinnati OH, in the downtown area. I've often walked it to shop in department stores, etc.

Sarah said...


I like think the bridge was built so that Marie-Eloïse and Timoléon could meet half way for a shag.
Thus saving his energy by not having to go down the stairs, across the road and up the stairs again.
Hope this helps.

Sarah said...

** was going to say something else and changed my mind...sorry I'm still jet lagged..or something

Christopher said...

Vicus, this is more than kind. Thank you. We will see what can be done.

Charlene: Hi. Yes, I agree, tho' I've never seen many nuns on the walkways you and The Honourable Spadoman describe. Maybe I just wasn't there at the right time.

Sarah: Hi, in Greek. (Χαιρητη?) I submitted your plot synopsis to Mills and Boon but I'm afraid they rejected it on the grounds that it had rude words in it.

moreidlethoughts said...

I'm somewhat surprised that the rigid moral stance of Vicus would condone the singing of such a bawdy song.

So he probably wouldn't want to hear my "Wife of Bath" although it did earn applause.

Sarah said...

(PS see dave's 'today' blog post comments)...haha this may will be the plot for the next sell out block buster. Eat your heart out mills and boon.

Christopher said...

MIT: What was your 'W of B'? May we know more? Have I (and Vicus) missed something?

Sah: Go to it. The world's your oyster card. Mills and Boom Boom!

(When I typed a short passage from Finnegans' Wake into the box, the result came up 'David East'. I don't like to tell him.)

Dave said...

You have now Chris.