Dan Brigg’s continues his exploration of French culture in his Provence Blog about a Dad at the French school gates
I have been troubled all week by the possible fall-out from the school elections. Or more precisely my behaviour at the precise moment I put pen to paper.
The Mums at the school made a great effort to get me to vote. And yet all I was able to do was rubberstamp the members of a school committee, the composition of which had already been decided. It was a faux election that swept away disagreement, more efficiently than the party machine of Putin’s Russia.
As I voted I reflected on what mattered to me – small class sizes, caring teachers and my kids having a full tummy which shouldn’t, I reasoned, be a question of veal’s brains or bust. And so I doodled a piece of penne next to the yes box, giving it legs and a contented grin. Pasta is quite a difficult thing to draw as it turns out. It requires a perceptive eye for contour to render the dried wheat properly.
The evening, after the vote, Cathy and I discussed the lack of choice in the election.
‘It’s positive participation, it’s the turnout that matters,’ said Cathy in her aggravatingly calm manner.
‘But I didn’t choose to vote, I was dragged there.’
‘Rubbish, you loved those Mums fawning all over you.’
‘It’s all a guilty hangover from the Revolution. Any nation that invents the guillotine and chops the heads off its King and aristocracy has to continually justify in the present the actions of the past. ‘
‘There you go with your History degree again? How can the PTA elections have anything to do with the French Revolution’
‘No listen, the masses in France are a dangerous beast, one misconceived extra-curricula activity and the village blacksmith will be sharpening the old blade and it will be off with her head.’
‘Marie Lou – the head of the PTA’
‘You can’t get her out of your head, can you?’
‘Stop quoting Kylie.’
I confess I’m not as busy as I should be in France, and so by the end of the week I was sitting in front of the tele, trying to absorb the language, while mocking up a version of my flyer for next years’ campaign. I hasten to add my plan was to make Cathy think I was serious rather than actually contest the election. Who knows whether we will still be here anyway?
My radical mock agenda proposed an end to pig’s trotters and brain pate insisting on a daily international alternative. Cathy knew I was a xenophobe but would she fall for it?
I showed her the flyer over supper
‘What’s this?’ she asked pointing at the cartoon penne.
‘A piece of pasta, it’s our logo, pasta for all at lunchtime. ’
‘Sssh it’s important to me, you and your nuclear physics, yes you might be solving the world’s energy problems, but on a small scale I’m doing things to, standing up for our children’s rights. It might not be earth shattering…’
‘Have you finished?’
‘I just get so fed up with how important you think you are…’
‘I think it’s a good idea,’ Cathy was in an unusually good mood.
‘Yes, why should our kids have to eat cow’s testicles for lunch.’
‘If I could make one suggestion though,’
‘Anything, it will be good to have your input’
‘The piece of pasta’
‘Penne’ I corrected.
‘Yes the Penne, I think you will have to change the design, it looks much too much like a willy.’