Our Saturday labours on the oppidum having finished for the year, it turned out there was another volunteer event on Saturday, a clean-up of Taradeau. Now there are interesting issues here. In Britain voluntary organisations are universally welcomed because local services are stretched to breaking point and beyond. In France however there seems to be something of a suspicion about voluntary organisations. As a French friend expressed it to us: “when there’s a problem people feel that it’s the duty of the state to employ someone to sort it out”. Well, given the high level of unemployment among young people one could understand the rationale. This may explain why which despite fairly good advertising the turnout was pretty small for a village of around 1600 people. But we were there!
Suitably equipped with gloves, courtesy of the Mairie, we set to along various roadsides and ditches around the village, operating out of two of the village’s pick-up trucks.
We have commented before that there doesn’t seem to be an obvious translation of “health and safety” into French, but it’s difficult to imagine any local authority in Britain allowing people to travel around a village bouncing in the back of council pick-ups. But this is France. By the end of the morning we had managed to fill most of a truck with rubbish, and ended up at the tower above the village where, you will not be surprised to know, snacks and rosé were available. It seems it’s never too early to drink rosé in Taradeau.
And in due course the Mayor turned up and thanked everyone concerned. So it was definitely worthwhile and made the point strongly that we do more than play our part in the community.
On a related note there was a TV programme on Taradeau this week and if you want to watch it, here’s the link. Those of you with French may derive a certain interest from the way in this corner of France the local dialect is very ‘non-standard’. But then the Italian border is barely an hour’s drive away. The first part of the programme is the mayor talking about the old village, the second part is the oppidum association coordinator Xavier talking about the oppidum, then the last part is the current village. Alison wants to point out that she only missed out on being videoed doing the exercise class because she goes to it on a Tuesday and it was the Friday group that was filmed.