The really big news here today and its effect are captured nicely in the opening sentence of the article from which the picture below is taken: "Ce matin, la France rigole". This morning, all France is laughing! I suppose, to be accurate, it should say "all France EXCEPT the fans of Olympique Marseilles is laughing", because our team, one of the most formidable in France, was eliminated from the Coupe de France tournament by Carquefou, a team which plays in an amateur league at or near the bottom of the multi-level soccer pyramid, several light years below OM. So one of the best teams in France, every one of whose starters is a full-time professional and millionaire, was beaten by a team some of whose members are: a real estate salesman, an administrative aide, a bartender, a bank employee, a student, a gym teacher and, the scorer of the only goal, a guy on unemployment.
This is not unlike the Yankees being beaten by the Sellwood Middle School team.
The prostrate figure in the photo below is Djibril Cisse, a native of Arles and therefore a home boy and favorite of the Marseilles fans, who is covered with tattoos and has a differently colored and styled coiffure every couple of weeks. He embodies the showbiz aspects of professional sports and he does a lot of posturing and finger-pointing. He's a striker, though, so I suppose a lot of that behavior comes with the position and he seems strangely likable. Paradoxically, although OM has played terribly in, and been eliminated from, every tournament it's been in this year it has played well and made a stunning comeback in the regular League 1 season. The team was plummeting into relegation (the bottom 3 teams at the end of the season are kicked down to the league below and the top 3 in that league come up to L1) but is now in 4th place, an amazing turnaround. As the noted American Philosopher of Sport, Al Michaels, has said: "Go figure!"
The dust is settling from the local elections, in which 36,700 municipalities of all shapes and sizes chose mayors and council members. If one of the candidates gets over 50% of the vote the first time around that candidate wins. If no one gets 50%, there's a second runoff election the following week - last Sunday. Apparently the vast majority of contests were determined the first week, with less than 4000 remaining to be determined by runoff (or second tour, as it's called). There was a slight shift to the left, as expected, in reaction against Nicolas Sarkozy and his party, the UMP, but nothing earth-shaking. I had to see the doctor this week and, speaking about the elections, he just laughed, shook his head and said something to the effect that "Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose" (the more things change the more.., etc.). Here in Eguilles the incumbent, a representative of the "center-right", was confirmed in his post by 56% of the first vote, so a second poll wasn't necessary.
I've mentioned the good fortune we've had at a couple of crucial junctures in meeting really great people who've contributed to making this whole adventure possible. One was the woman who found our apartment for us, Rebecca. We met on the internet and just took a leap of faith and it couldn't have worked out better. She's originally from Australia, as is her husband, but they've been living here for 9 years or so. We hadn't actually met tete-a-tete until a few days ago, when Rebecca and her infant son, Jamie, and Lois and I got together at a cafe in Lambesc, a neighboring village where they live. I took some pictures of the village but somehow, incomprehensibly and unforgivably, came away without getting any of them, two of the most photogenic subjects it's been my fortune to encounter on this (or any) trip.
It's cold and windy today, but the sun is shining and spring is obviously enroute. These wild orchids, Orchis Tachete with an accent over the 2d 'e', are growing alongside the driveway. They're a protected species.