Friday, October 20, 2006

Today I must stand in queues at the Centrelink office to partake in the absurdist theatrical drama surrounding the obtention of my unemployment benefit, and then do some Campaign for Women's Reproductive Rights photocopying. Not much to do, you might say, but sleeping until midday does take a sizeable chunk of time out of one's schedule.

In the meantime, allow me to re-post something from my ill-fated MySpace blog - the blog alternatively known as "The Blog That No-one Read".

Four funerals, a wedding and a dog

I was roaming around the environs of Fontainebleau the other day when I happened upon a couple of items that cast an interesting light on the local attitude towards life and death.

I found the first item at a quaint old stone church on top of a hill as I was cycling. How charming, I thought - a genuine ye olde Frenche churche in the middle of ye olde Frenche countryside. Why not stop to catch one's breath, park ye olde mountain bike-e and take a stroll around the quaint old church cemetery. Really old grave stones are cool, as you, who no doubt count taste and imagination among your qualities, will surely agree.

You will doubtless also agree, having beneifited from the same cultural education as I, that it is generally ill-advised to disturb the dead. The dead, be they Egyptian mummies or ordinary monotheistic dead people, do not typically appreciate being disturbed. A mere child of 5 could tell you this. The dead prefer to "Rest In Peace"; that is why we bury them and deliver them flowers and related items every so often so that they do not feel compelled to get up and fetch things for themselves.

So understandably I was shocked by this gruesome discovery:

See the yellow sign on the ground there? To summarise, it reads "this grave for sale". Yes, graves are being ransacked and sold to the highest bidder by the priest in collaboration with the state, in this otherwise inoffensive-looking churchyard. I'm not a religious woman, but if I were a catholic dead person and my "final resting place" were unearthed, my bones chucked unceremoniously in the compost bin etc. in favour of some whippersnapper of a new dead eldery person, I'd be really pissed. What's wrong with the religious old people of today? No fucking respect, that's what. It's just as well the church door was locked, because I was primed for going up to some praying old French catholic biddy and speaking my mind.

So much for respecting the dead. On to the sanctity of marriage. The next day I photographed this sign in the Fontainebleau main street:

It says: "His future wife is looking for him - 1 euro reward - guilty of drunkenness and the rape of animals in the Fontainebleau region."

Well, I suppose I shouldn't have been too aghast at this. After all, what can one expect from Fontainebleau, a region famous for housing right-wing monarchists and wistful aristocrats. Such is the lot of the provincial aristocrat, it seems: one soon runs out of cousins of noble birth and suitable pedigree, then one moves on to the local pedigree hounds.

Grave desecration and pre-nuptial bestiality are par for the course here in Fontainebleau, I suppose. And given how anxious the French are to preserve their traditions, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that they even combine the two practices in some form or other in the context of a colourful summer festival.

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