In the end I said to Viviane, if we don’t do it now . . . . . .
|Sparrows and leaders May-June 2016.|
And thus it was that I found myself contemplating the board at Leeds Station announcing that the trains to Kings Cross were all cancelled. This is not a good start. Quick as a flash I am on the slow train to Sheffield and then an overcrowded one to St Pancras.
cat posing on roof
Here I am frantically emailing Vivianne to advise her of my impending lateness. Then enter Sue the WonderGuard into my life. She phones Eurostar and gets their support as I attempt the impossible, getting past customs and passport control in the twenty minutes between arrival and departure. Then, as my phone won’t connect to France, she lets me text Viviane from her own mobile!
She is probably the one who engineered the early arrival of the train into St Pancras, because after that I made the 3.04 and même mieux, Vivianne is here to meet me at Lille-Europe. Huge memories of when we met in January 2016, and later the same year when I came over again, this time with Bex, Wanda, Yi Bai, Millie and Chloe for some heavy duty steelpanning at the Mome Arts Festival.!
|The Youth Hostel from the earlier trip|
|The school where we played our last concert in 2016|
We scoot to Wasquehal, stop at the supermarché and then Vivianne takes her community choir. Home to Roubaix, to see Jurgen, Marthe again, and to meet Pina (the new dog), have a beer and scrumptious cheese salad.
Viviane's community choir
The cats live on the roofs and come into the bathroom for food and shelter.
In the night rain is pitter-patter music on the roofs. We are awake at seven, Pina is demonstrating her love of blankets and posing.
|me Valerie Sophie|
I spend the morning down Memory Lane with Claire at Lakanal in Fives (pronounced Feev). She teaches her class Michael Jackson- Black and White, Go Down Moses and One other. Then they play me a song that they learnt with Idris, Sacré Charlemagne. What a lovely atmosphere, what a lovely sound.
|me Idris Vivianne|
|me Marie-Pierre Matilde|
Charlotte then delivers me to Viviane at the Conservatory. Here Viviane and her colleague are frantically packing some strange percussion instruments into a flight case. By now Charlotte has stopped at à Carrefour for me to buy a packet of proper tea, so am heavily involved in making up lost tea time.
Now we collect one of Viviane’s colleague, then daughter Marthe from the metro station, and over to Grand Sud for a Onomatopick. À jazz singing concert for primary schools. Not specially looking forward. . . . .
Mind-Blowing! Dénis, Anna and Mathieu together and separately with their classes, classes with their soloists, the teachers forming a group themselves. Never once did the leaders take their eyes off their charges, never once did the action stop. Viviane introduced the event by singing a phrase then enter Les entrants singing back to her. (Denis’s idea. Why I am not surprised!). the four teachers also form a quartet. Also awesome.
Friday is with the music and dance teachers at a proper old-fashioned village hall in Roubaix, quite close to where we are.
This is the culmination of several weeks work in the schools: three schools come together for a day-long dress rehearsal
Here are some adjectives: Astonishing. Beautiful. Well-paced. Inclusive. Appropriate. Thought-provoking.
|Watching and discussing the Rite of Spring|
|packing away the whatsits|
The teachers always looked calm and happy and pleased to see each other. The school teachers all took part, the wheelchair user took to the floor and rolled and took positions with the rest. He was included and attended to but not fussed over anymore than any other kid. Sometimes he pushed himself, sometimes he allowed himself to be pushed.
Sophie accompanied the dancers with a solo cello, then she sang little phrases, ever-increasing in pitch to the students. She had the voice of a bell, like crystal. In itself it was beautiful to listen to. There were a few backing tracks. One school’s theme was animals, including using Saint-Saens’ Elephant as a track. One little girl, in plaits, imagining with her huge wide eyes that she was in the countryside had me totally believing her. Pupils played bird whistle, rainsticks and chime bars as they danced.
There were two other activities. One dance teacher showed the classes different versions of the Rite of Spring on a video, and discussed them with the children, and how that ballet is the most important for both dance and music. Plus there was some dancing in a very small room, using the smallness and the walls. Veronique led the day with dance teachers, Matilda and x, Sophie played cello and sang, Marie-Pierre led the percussion, and Valerie took photos.
Marie-Pierre drove me back to the Conservatoire. A coupla cuppas, then walking in the rain back to the Hotel du Paix. Unfortunately since I stayed there in January 2016, they have renamed the Rue de Paris, and the hotel’s sign was quite obliterated by the signs around it. I walked straight past it, spend another half an hour chugging round, till I found some signs for Gare Lille Flandres, and then retraced my two year old steps from there. Lol. Sight-seeing in the rain. What’s not to like?
Lie on hotel bed, watching Monfils at Roland-Garros on the tele. Then meet Viviane for one last beer, and Idris (for no beers as he is fasting). So happy he made the effort to come for the flowers and colours (!).
|Marthe Viviane Valerie|
Bed late, up early, home safe, no aventures this time.