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So it’s Sunday, it’s miserable and threatening to rain, and so the kids, the missus and I decide to head off to the local fair. It’s organised by our village church and so is full of lots of people of, to be kind, advancing years. I always find that slightly depressing, when you find yourself to be the youngest people there even though you are in your forties.

But at the same time I also enjoy the chance to bask in my youthfulness because, even though I’m in my forties, I’m one of the youngest ones there.

It’s an indoor affair – which is a huge bonus on a day like this – and is held in our local ‘salle de fetes’ or community hall, for the non-French speakers reading this.

When we get there there are a group of line-dancing ladies keeping the crowds entertained with their rather sedate routine (average age of dancers: 76). We wait for a suitable pause and take a seat at a table near the stage where, we are informed, the grand raffle will shortly be held.

The compere for this soon arrives and it’s none other than Madame Dubois, a local character who I know from my English classes and who keeps insisting I call her Celia, and I do. To her face anyway: whenever I’m referring to her to others though I switch back to Madame Dubois.

You know those people who just seem like they will forever be referred to by Mr or Mrs such and such, and to use their Christian name would be sacrilege? Well that’s Madame Dubois, she’s one of those people.

She bustles over to us and says her hellos, steals my children, and then heads off on to the stage. She needs my kids to pick out the winning tickets you see. She also steals my partner, as she needs her to control my kids to in order to facilitate the picking out of the wining tickets.

The raffle kicks off and my kids hand her the winning tickets, alternately taking their place at the giant plastic ball and selecting the green ticket. The prize is then displayed by a glamorous assistant (approximately 82) before Madame Dubois, with the aid of a very powerful microphone calls out the name and number on the winning ticket. This is not the only information she divulges to the crowd (approximately 100-or-so, average age 71) however. She also comments on the current location and well being of the winners, in association with their prize.

It goes a little something like this:

Madame Dubois: ‘Ok what is this, hmmm a toaster and the winning number is 1,257 and the winner is Madame DuChamp. Well that’s no good for her, she’s been in the retirement home for 3 months now, maybe she can give it to her daughter?’

Madame Dubois: ‘And this next one is for a lovely scarf, and it’s been won by Monsieur Lafage with ticket number 245, but I don’t think he’ll be wearing it. Not for long anyway if what his doctor told me is true’.

Madame Dubois: ‘276, 276 for Madam Lafayette, yes, she’s not well she’s been at the retirement home for two years now and she’s a bit lost, so I don’t really think these roller blades will be very good for her’

Madame Dubois: ‘What’s this? Another bloody scarf? OK, stop messing around you two and give me a number. Yes, that one’s 1,035 and it’s for Madame Sedoyer, well she can wear it when she goes to the doctor’s. Again. She’s not well. She’s not well at all’

Madame Dubois: ‘A balloon trip? She won’t be able to get outside, never mind up in a balloon, lost the use of her legs two years ago. And that’s 365, for Madam Kristoff, 365 for Madame Kristoff’

 

I should add that the majority – but not all – of the people Madame Dubois discussed were not actually present in the hall. Or if they were they didn’t hear her – due to deafness of being asleep, it was hard to tell. I am now going to see if Madame Dubois will be the DJ at any future events we may decide to hold, she’s got a definite talent for keeping the crowds entertained.

We didn’t win anything by the way but, judging by the comments, I’m quite pleased about that…

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