Georgette, the local correspondent for a neighbouring village, calls. She must attend a family wedding this week-end and will not be around for the annual Petanque marathon, an important event by local standards. No problem. I'll moonlight for her.
The marathon is about playing non-stop petanque from 9 AM to 9 PM, under the sun. We are in the midst of a serious heatwave. Thirty high-level petanque teams have enrolled and are coming by bus from far away towns in the greater south-eastern part of France.
At noon, I do a first round of pictures and note-taking at the mayor's official speech The petanque marathon is sponsored by a car brand and a Pastis brand, naturaly. On the Post office square, the sponsor's shiny exhibition car is decorated with rows of bottles - the second sponsor's promotional ware. The heat is blinding. Rows of free Pastis bottles on a makeshift table vanish faster than ice cubes The players have been drinking since 9AM. How can they stand it?
I came back at 9 PM for the official results and the Cup ceremony. It was still scorching hot. When I got out of the car (air conditionned) on the village square parking, I sniffed. Believe it or not, but the entire village was bathed in a distinct pastis fragrance. And please note that the petanque fields are located on the outskirt of the village. OK, the air was dry and hot enough to catch the slightest trace of humidity, even alcool-based humidity, but still...While walking to the petanque fields, I wondered how many heart-attacks, sun strokes and alcohol-induced comas I would have to report. Not one. Very pleased with the marathon, the players were all there, standing on their two feet. I took a picture of the winning team, three guys from another town, thirty kilometers away. A picture you will not see, obviously, after what has been said.