It’s raining, the world is going to end (again) on Friday and I haven’t done my Christmas cards yet. But a heart-warming event yesterday helped me to forget all that: our carol service at the church in Parisot. Even if we don’t get to see Christmas Day, we ushered in the season with a large slug of Christmas spirit.
Last week, I wrote about le Choeur de Parisot’s first carol service of the year at Cajarc in the Lot. About 60 people came, which was a little disappointing, but they gave all the signs of having enjoyed it.
Yesterday at Parisot, elderly ladies were already arriving to bag their seats while we were rehearsing at 16h00. It’s just as well they did because by kick-off time at 17h00 there was standing room only. And they kept coming. We had to commandeer more chairs and install people behind the altar and in the side chapels. The audience even occupied every step up to the lectern. Members of the choir were afraid we might have to fight with the audience for our seats. It took about 25 minutes to empty the church afterwards.
There must have been around 400 people there, which, for a small place like Parisot in la France profonde, isn’t bad going. Mind you, we have been publicising it as if there were no tomorrow. Come to think of it, there will soon be no tomorrow if the Mayan calendar is accurate. However, I’ll soldier on.
The choir is some 50 strong so we can make a heck of a noise. We even sing in tune quite a lot of the time (only joking, Peter). This wasn’t really a concert – although the choir sang several carols alone – but we got a standing ovation and did a couple of encores. Naturally, my reading of the fifth lesson – in French – went down a storm. There were a lot of smiling faces at the end, even if much of the audience hadn’t understood the words of the carols.
Afterwards, the commune offered a vin chaud to everyone at the salle des fêtes. The choir contributed home-made quiches, biscuits and cakes. The SF had brought some of his delicious Swedish ginger biscuits. By the time those of us who had stayed behind to rearrange the chairs in the church got there, there was absolutely nothing left. It was as if the proverbial plague of locusts had struck.
Until about 1996, Christmas carol services were unknown in this area. They started in a small way and now several take place each year. I often worry a lot about whether we Brits are changing the nature of the French countryside irrevocably. Are we destroying what we came here for? At a dinner party last week we had a big argument about the pros and cons of multi-culturalism. I don’t want to rehash it all here: that’s perhaps for a later post. But maybe we can introduce things that enrich the lives of our French neighbours. I like to think we achieved that yesterday.
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