Sunday, 1 May 2011
They do Mayday properly in France,. Everything closes, including public transport (the only day of the year on which there are no buses, trains or trams) and in every town and just about every village a lot of people turn out to demonstrate for the workers. People also give lily of the valley to the people they love (I bought myself some this morning, fnar fnar) the scent of which makes me want to burst into tears. I cycled to church this morning because the trams are not running, and at every crossroads there were people holding out sprigs of muguet (the aforementioned scented spring flower) to sell to passers by. This is the first time Mayday has fallen on a Sunday in a very long time. Here in France we do not have bank holidays as such - the holiday is taken on the day on which it falls, and it it falls at the weekend then no day off for nine-to-fivers like me, chiz. 8th May is a holiday too, VE Day, a bit rich when you think of France's contribution to that victory over fascism. We are about 5 km from the German border here, and on 8th May the roads are clogged with French cars heading for Germany (where, strangely, VE Day is not a public holiday) to go shopping. Not this year. Shops in Germany are closed on Sundays, as they are in France. Why, is another matter. It is now legal in France, and under some circumstances in Germany, for most shops to open on Sundays. But they don't. In France bakers and florists open on Sunday mornings, so that you can buy bread and cakes for breakfast and dessert, and flowers to give to whichever relative you are visiting at lunchtime. The patisseries open about 6 am, peak time being about 0930, when the better ones have long queues. Sig other is playing cricket in Germany this afternoon, and will have to cycle there, which will probably give him more exercise than an afternoon of cricket will - even here tea is taken rather seriously by the cricketing fraternity.