By Veronica


Amusing to see an article in the Guardian confirm what I said today: being locked down unlocks your nesting instinct and you start trying to improve your home environment, especially when the weather gets colder. The French call this le cocooning.

Having reorganised the room downstairs to our satisfaction, we turned our attention to the living room. We've had the two sofas for close to 20 years, and while still structurally sound they are looking a little the worse for wear. The throws we'd hidden them with were overlarge and scruffy. So I got online and ordered fresh ones, plus some new purple velvet cushion covers. What a transformation! They wouldn't look out of place in a Persian harem.

This evening we went to Montlaur for a showing of Jacob Redman's documentary Des Couacs et des Poètes. We first met Jacob in 2008 when he was a teenager; he was assigned by his boss Chris to help us with the community film we made to celebrate the anniversary of May 1968. He's now grown up and making his living from film. This, his first feature, should have been launched in the spring, but ... Covid.

The documentary is about the wonderful French phenomenon of fanfares or bandas, the Fanfare du Minervois in particular. They are nothing like British brass bands; they play music to dance to, and no village fête is complete without one. The film was not simply a presentation of this idea; it was about how a band started by a few friends enhanced the lives of everyone who joined it in multiple ways. It's not just the music, but the comradeship, sharing meals, having fun, going on holiday together. But they also talked about the life-affirming effect of being creative and making music together, of moments of strong emotion. The feeling when everyone gets in the zone, the audience is swept along, and it ends up like this, my best experience of the summer.

And as we watched there was the bittersweet feeling of seeing people hugging, dancing, singing, eating together without an inkling of the dreaded words "social distancing". When will we be able to do that again?

Afterwards we talked to Jacob and also to Chris, his ex-boss, who lives nearby but whom we rarely see because he's on the wrong side of the mountain. Weirdly, his participative video company is housed in the building where I used to work in Oxford ... he does some interesting work.

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