Wednesday, April 13, 2005

progress

Just back from a trip on my bicyclette to Bedoin to see the nice ferronerie man. We are ordering trendy metal windows for Julian's studio-to-be (currently the hayloft) so that the master has maximum light to do his minimalist paintings . I had to go there physically because I couldn't understand a word Monsieur Trazic said on the phone. Pinging and Panging allover the place. He probably put extra pings and pangs in for laughs because I was foreign and probably only lived here for ten minutes a year and it was quite likely I would spend a lot of money. Now we have met face to face and he understands that we do not need 'anti-vol' glass and fancy finishes, we have established a decent price. It will be our first move towards the dream of the 'Galerie des Demoiselles Coiffees'.

Whilst he was preparing the quote ( a very serious matter which, it seems, cannot be done in front of you) I cycled into the village for a coffee and watched the work they are doing on the square. Although it will be a concrete one, at least they are attempting to bring back the heart of the village by replacing the car-park with a 'place'. On entering the shops, however, I am asked brusquely if I am a Bedoin resident and, on answering in the affirmative, almost forced to sign the petition against the change. The reasons are that thebutcher and the baker will suffer because people will not be able to park right outside their shop. When I say that I do not agree; that for me four large parking lots at each corner of the village (a maximum of 5 minutes walk) should be enough; that I do not agree that the car should rule our lives, I am accused of being young, informed that when I am old with a zimmer frame I will not want to shuffle through the village for my baguette....

I am reminded of two things:

The first is , whilst trekking in Nepal, watching octogenarians walk from their home in the mountains (often a day's walk) with their wares on their heads and backs. Their apparent contentment, health and fitness were a result of those journeys. At one point we passed workers asking for money towards building a road along that very track. Knowing that that one road would halt, possibly for ever, a lifestyle in harmony with nature I asked our guide if we should give.

"You cannot stop progress." he said.

When we were kids, my father threw twenty darts at a map of Camberwell in South East London where we lived. Since then, every year on his birthday he has photographed those twenty sites from exactly the same painted dot on the ground. It is called'twenty sites n years'Through it one can see the tragi-comedy of Progress: Bollards come and they go, and then they come again; A concrete park appears, is destroyed, turned back to earth; is planted with tress and then made into a car-park; The operatic newspaper seller never changes and neither, in essence, do his headlines and even the painted dot, when destroyed by a paving slab, is lovingly repainted by some kind art fan.

Perhaps the Place de Bedoin will stay. Perhaps it will go. Perhaps even, one day, they will restore it in beautiful stone with a boules piste and a fountain as it would once have been. We cannot stop it's progress but I can refuse to sign a petition which goes against my heart and, as far as I see it, the heart of the village.


5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done for sticking to your guns on the petition front. It seems that on many occasions people are quite easily uneasily persuaded to depart from their own sense of what is right (and what isn't) by joining in with the loud crowd.

BTW in 20 sites it's 'n', not 'en' which, while blogtastically french, does not quite convey the mathematical concept inherent in Tom's title!

BTW 2.... I sent you a dvd a month or so ago. Did it arrive?

still following and enjoying!

lots of love (and all best from Joe and Hedwige aussi),

Leo.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Jean said...

I enjoyed this very much. Can just imagine having the same mixed feelings re the square, and hope I would have had the same response as you! I also read about your father's photo project with great interest. I live not far from Camberwell. And the subject speaks to what I was thinking, and blogging, about yesterday. Is he still taking the photos every year? and does he ever still exhibit them?

6:26 PM  
Blogger ruth said...

this is very comforting leo, and jean, as julian does not agree with me on this one and after a bit of a petit argument i am sitting here in the middle of nowhere vinesville feeling like a self appointed blog dictatress. bit too holier than thou perhaps? j suggests i simply say "i've signed it" (the petition) not to put the neighbours' backs up. what d'you reckon?

11:17 PM  
Anonymous caroline morphess said...

Fascinating about your father's photos. What a fabulous idea.

Bloody petitions. I hate been coerced into signing, some cheeky bloke actually handed me a pen the other day before telling me what it as for. (It was to complain about the recent bill that went through here to legalise prostitution, I refused).

Oh, lie I guess...but don't sign if you don't agree.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Jean said...

I don't know. This kind of thing is very personal. Sounds like it might not make you happy to feel you had to be less than honest to fit into your community there. Doesn't mean you have to make a big noise about your disagreement with the petition...

12:43 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home