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Sunday, 31 July 2016

Je Suis Francaise. Vive La Revolution!


The summer holidays.  My children, my responsibilities, my care have fallen from me one by one,  a brief cessation. The beautiful one is working in France for the summer and I spend time on the phone to her in the first weeks of that,  just to make sure.
"Oh I know she'll be grand but still,  just to make sure" I tell her utterly indifferent siblings on Friday. The boy looks at me curiously, nods his head. "Yeah. I know what it is,  it's  "Taken"  again, isn't it? You're thinking of Taken. Ye know there's like legions of parents haunted by Taken, if you head over there to France at all."  He grins at me. "It is, isn't it?'
"Yeah it is. Have you seen Taken 2?"

                                              that bastard  Liam Neeson.

I won't say it never crossed my mind, Taken. I think of all the girls, trying to have a great adventure, harassed and hobbled by parents preoccupied with Taken, and before that with white slavers. Not terrorists at all, not really,  but bad men who might sell you for sex. I'm not doing that to my daughter, no. But still.

I wish for you children,  boy.  I wish for you many of them,  hitting puberty,  strung out on hormones, leaving home in swift proximity.  I wish for you many daughters of the feisty, edgy, highly strung variety. And one day, as you stand in your house punch drunk from competing needs, anxieties, voices, may a tall grinning son whisper in your shell shocked ear....Taken! Or maybe it will be a little ghost whisper from the grave where you no doubt will put me...Taken....Either way will do.


Anyway we go to France to visit with Beautiful.  Before,  the incessant radio updates about the old Priest who was murdered in Normandy penetrate the boss's preoccupied head as she goes about her daily round of playing her music, researching new mineral make-up (slap) on-line,  stretching before her daily run, reading, raiding my books (the actual book I'm reading).
"Oh well Normandy, now.  And last week there was Nice?  Should we be like going  to France at all?"
She gives me the explain yourself and your parenting long gaze. She means ought I to be taking her.
"Yeah"  I say "we should"

                                                 Accidental Tourists.

I have been to Paris already this summer, when the Euros were on.  Not on account of that but to help Beautiful settle in. Before the Nice abomination.  I travelled on the day before the Irish played France in Lyon, and sat on the last seat in the plane with five Irish men who were travelling for the match.
"Gettin' a car from Paris. Never been to France before"  a chatty grinning one shares, taking a hearty  swig from his beer.
"No? Well... you'll get a look at Paris on the way there.  Or back, at least?"
"God no! Have to get straight down to Lyons. If we win, then on to the match against the English. If we loose,  straight back the way we came."
His mate opens another round of cans, hands him one.  He takes it in his left hand and finishes the one he has.
"Ah yeah, if we loose we'll have to be drowning our sorrows, so we'll have the craic either way."
He nods his head towards a fresh faced, red headed man in the opposite seat.
"You see your man over there? Doesn't drink! He's driving. Thats why we brought him."
He takes another sucking drink"
"Doesn't drink." he says again, in tolerant wonder.
The plane comes down. The football boys take a warm shouty leave of fellow travellers,  air hostess, pilot,  and they're gone.

In Paris the people are shaken I think. Polite, upstanding, but shaken. Something in the air, in the aura jittery and disturbed.
"You know I like the french" my beauty tells me. "I like them, they're direct. You know where you are with them"
"You know thats like really a relief?  Like really restful?"
I look at my tactful, subtle, empathetic daughter and wonder why that is such a relief to her.

                                                 Je suis Francaise.

When I come home I read about how the French are awarding Irish football fans medals, kudos for non-assaultive drunken good humour. Many Irish people, unlike my Irish self, seem pleased at this. I think of the passionate, sloppy, in denial about alcohol, Irish, rolling around France in the warm and fuzzy drinking bubble.  Being good fans, enchanted, with the Euros, with everything, because you can drink and drink and drink and none will judge you. Like at Christmas or weddings, funerals. I think of the French, stripped of safety,  traumatised. Gallantly willing to be cheered up by sloppy Irish football fans.
"Yeah, we should. We should visit with the French" I tell her again.
"Je suis Francaise. Toi aussi!"

                                                 Beyonce and me.....

"Oh hey, Beyonce, isn't that Beyonce, why on earth would you have Beyonce?" the boss asks disdainful, as I drive herself and her brother to a train going west,  on a high racing note of deliverance.
"Oh hell am I driving too fast." I ask, automatically. I know she knows I drive too fast when the music is in me. But it's not that, it's the music choice, and yeah I say it's Lemonade, you should listen, it's great. I heard "Don't Hurt Yourself" on the radio, liked it and bought it for the car. (As you do)

She demands more by way of explanation. I'm too old and she's too cool for Beyonce.
 So I explain why it's called Lemonade, and tell her to listen as the very song "Don't Hurt Yourself" comes on"
"Yeah, it's good" she's allows.  " she, Beyonce,  actually stay with him?"
 "Oh yeah"
She broods for a bit. "I mean why would she stay with him. She's like Beyonce. He's just...not up to her. I wouldn't have it, if he...."
She hits the replay arrow now, thinking no doubt about what she would do with him, as we listen.
"Yeah, well....she has basically emasculated him, like left him one testicle and made him eat the other" I explain.
"She hasn't dumped him, as such. She's kind of re assembled him and kept him on for her own purposes" (Ohh, Hilary, Hilary, Hilary... Clinton...)
We listen now to to "Daddy Lessons".  I am driving too fast again.
"So... do you think she's like for gun ownership, or against" the boss asks me sternly. The thing is that now, on account of my suspect music choices, I am obliged to explain Beyonce.
"Hmm. Well it's hard to feel she's against,  but she's got a perspective on it" I say obscurely. "And a really cool chorus."
We listen to the chorus.
"Also, she's probably giving your man a kicking for the road, now he's down."
And I put my foot down hard and drive.


Back in my silent ordered house, (reduced to order) I wander from room to room, wallowing, thinking about Beyonce, Malala, the Boss, all the girls, the young women, heroes  who have cast off the softly softly tactful ways of wily womanliness in this brave new world and I'm glad. The other side of the coin of abuse of the female, by men and by women too

I'm glad for them and I'm glad for me, in my briefly silent space, where you can think a thought through from the beginning to the end without being asked for money, or a lift, or whether that rash  on my back might be cancer, those blood stains on my shirt will come out in the wash!!!  They'll be back soon enough to me, like nemesis herself, and in the meanwhile dear reader I'm at home to no one, unless you take my stray fancy that is. And in the words of the mighty Beyonce herself, 'don't hurt yourself".