Winter has descended without warning like the cold blade of the guillotine, SNICK!, and the faces around us wear expressions of offended surprise not unlike those I imagine to have been worn by that revolutionary machine's victims, our neighbors' ancestors. We live among their descendants, whose demeanor says as clearly as that of an aristocrat on the tumbril, "How dare they do this to ME!" , 'they' being in this case the weather gods. We wouldn't mind so much, but our landlord, among many others, was taken by surprise and the heating oil hasn't been delivered yet, so we're clad in multiple layers shivering in our apartment. The boiler should be fueled, up and running by Wednesday, we've been assured by the landlord's daughter, a charming and friendly young woman who also invited us to come downstairs (we live on the top, third, floor of their old stone farmhouse) and huddle in front of the fireplace. She's as cold as we are, but whereas we wear sweats and hoods, she, because the French have certain standards to maintain, swathes herself in elegant scarves. Saturday was the first cold day (today is Monday) and Sunday we took a long walk through the woods and fields surrounding our house (see photos). We're heading off to Paris (doesn't that sound just too too jet-set?) for a few days at the end of the week, during Mike's first school break, and, wouldn't you know it, it's REALLY cold there.
The Rugby World Cup is over and France has been put out of its misery, but not before a lot of pain, false hope and humiliation. They played in the 3rd-place game, a disappointment in itself, against Argentina, who had already beaten them once, and they lost again. The French team is the perennial bridesmaid of the world cup: always close but have never caught the bouquet. The match was sloppy, mean and ill-tempered on both sides from kickoff with a lot of stupid penalties and outbursts of violence. (Outbursts of violence? In rugby? How could you tell the difference?) That was Saturday. On Sunday South Africa won the cup by defeating England in another less-than-artistic, defensive struggle. England, although the defending title holders, had become the cinderella team of the tournament because of their steady improvement since having been annihilated 36-0 by S. Africa a few weeks ago during the round-robin pool phase. But in real life, I guess the slipper doesn't always fit. That's why we have fairy tales!
I'm not going to dwell on this sordid subject. I believe that politicians are people too, sort of; and that they have feelings that we can recognize as such with a little effort, deeply hidden maybe, a little twisted, but feelings nonetheless; and that they have a right to a private life away from the constant scrutiny of the public, so they can loosen up and reclaim their authentic personal narrative, even if it includes chapters of fraud, chicanery, adultery, nepotism, blackmail, egomania, etc. So, as I say, I'm not going to dwell on it. The photo below, from the front page of La Provence, says it all anyway.