Vote dirty old man for president: (St-Eutrope - Matha) - When we were two little boys - CycleBlaze

April 21, 2012

Vote dirty old man for president: (St-Eutrope - Matha)

François Mitterand, president and seducer, remembered in the town of his birth
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JARNAC IS the birthplace of François Mitterand. I don't know how long he stayed there but I could see why he left. It's true that nowhere looks its best in drizzle from a heavy grey sky but Jarnac wasn't bothered about trying. That makes it a contradiction because Courvoisier has its headquarters there and I assume the place is afloat on cognac money.

But then Mitterand, too, was a contradiction. He was the first socialist president after the war but, in the way that politics can surprise, he denationalised and derestricted more than the opposite. He was quite the specialist of the canif, too, a colloquial reference to the way a blade emerges from a penknife. Despite a loathsome appearance, he made his way through much of the female staff of the Elysée and then contrived to have a mistress and daughter and to pay and house them at public expense.

To be  truthful, once I'd had a meal and the sun had come out, I started to see Jarnac more charitably. I went to the tourist office to make amends but it was shut. I saw a sign for Mitterand's birthplace, so I rode there instead. It too was shut. I went back to thinking that Jarnac was that sort of place.

Well, I don't know where the old boy is now but it's assuredly not as silent and damp as the wood in which I woke this morning. I rode through a countryside of brush scrub and of trees, still going north. When they cleared, they gave way to green fields of nothing or to industrial rows of pruned and tortured vines.

I really do dislike vineyards. It may be because I don't like wine. I think it's more that in summer they are charmless and unnatural, like rows and rows of privet hedges. And in winter they are the arms of burned and anguished men raising their eyes to heaven for final release. I am never unhappy to see vineyards behind me.

The curator ran out of the museum to beg me to see her boats
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I stopped at St-Simon, which struggles to interest the world in the flat-bottomed barges once made there. It is so keen that the curator ran out of the museum to ask why I showed no sign of wanting to visit.

PLEASE come and see our boats...!
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Of the rest of the afternoon there's not much to report. I rode, I enjoyed it a lot and sometimes I enjoyed it less but there wasn't a tale to tell. It rained as often as it didn't and the wind turned against me. I rode out of Matha, pronounced mutta, and straight into the flat, undivided and unsheltered edge of agricultural industry. If it wasn't the bright yellow of rape stretching to the horizon, it was the pale green of calf-high wheat.

With the wind now bellowing right in my face and nothing to stop its insults, I had more than I could face. I saw a distant and improbable cluster of trees, grovelled towards them and plonked my tent into a space barely large enough to receive it.

The wind is still blowing ferociously.

Today's ride: 81 km (50 miles)
Total: 173 km (107 miles)

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