Friday, June 24, 2011

Happiness is the field

Munson the malfalfamute

A few months ago I was chatting to someone online and they mentioned a French film that was set in this part of the Gers: Le bonheur est dans le pré or Happiness is in the field. Made back in 1995, it’s a comedy about a man who gets the chance to reset his life by taking on the guise of a foie-gras producer near Condom. The star Michel Serrault is perhaps best known for his role as Albin in La Cage Aux Folles (1980) and its sequel. The other name familiar to me was Carmen Maura, the Spanish actress best known for her roles in early Almodovar films, although not really used to her full capacity in this case. In fact both of these fine actors play their roles fairly straight and it’s the supporting cast who get to chew the scenery.

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The French-issued DVD is surely one of those super-rarities: a French film with English subtitles!  The only other films I can think of with them are Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le pacte des loups) and Renaissance.

When I finally got to watch it a few weeks back I was amused to see the Condom characters complaining of a drought – it really made me feel like a local. I mentioned the film to Peter at lunch on Saturday; he felt sure that some of the market scenes from the film were actually done in Vic-Fezensac, so  I’ve gone back and looked again, and yes it’s very obviously the location. I’ve grabbed a screen showing the central street area very clearly.

Happiness is in Vic Fezensac

Gustav in the vines
Today’s happy little field exercise for Gustav and myself was retrieving vine posts. The posts will greatly help my project to assure another year’s supply of firewood.

The rented vineyards here are – after many delays – finally undergoing arrachément as our neighbours had done back in March. The intervening months of dryness and vine-growth have made the process much harder – the posts are so much harder to remove that the machinery has broken down twice this week on a single vineyard.

The vineyard closest to my villa is nearly gone, leaving long furrows punctuated by piles of rolled up vines, posts and wire,  all torn from the ground by the tractor. Extracting useful posts from these is not really much easier than pulling them directly from the ground as they’re so heavily wound with wires that have to be snipped in the right place before you can drag them out.

Nonetheless we wrestled maybe two hundred posts  just from the mounds at the top of the vineyard, and collected nearly half of them in the truck and deposited them in the wood store. Not a bad effort before cheese o’clock.

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