We carried the last table into the corner of the field, and then went back for the benches. The rock band playing in front of the Salle des fêtes was in full flow and hundreds of people milled around drinking beer, enjoying the bank holiday and warm weather. I was amazed that a village of 80 inhabitants, hidden at the bottom of a valley and only reached after a tortuous drive, could organise such a popular 3 day event.
Our line-dancing display had gone well and contrary to a previous occasion, I had not found myself dancing with my back towards the crowd whilst my fellow dancers faced the other direction. It was a mistake that still made my stomach churn and necessitated even more trips to the loo when I danced in public than before. This evening the response had been enthusiastic; line-dancing is still new here but the crowd had clapped and smiled. Stress had turned my legs from wood to rubber, before normality had returned and euphoria and newly-found confidence had carried me through to the last dance.
I took my cowboy hat off and fanned myself with it, trying to ease life into my hair with my fingers. The sun had gone down, but the day had been as hot as the rest of the summer and I was still glowing. I went back to the car to pick up the picnic. The rest of the group had given up trying to line-dance to hard rock and were now gathering around the tables. I had prepared a large salad, certain that it would be sufficient, but as I staggered back, laden with the basket and cool box, I stopped.
An extension lead now ran the fifty or so yards from the Salle des Fêtes to the field. A gleaming white microwave sat on the table. Plates disappeared in and out of it at industrial speed and hot sausages and rice were being passed down the benches, canteen style.
I dumped my salad bowl on the table trying not to laugh. The French are a funny lot sometimes, but there’s no denying one thing. They sure know how to picnic.