Whenever you’re in trouble…

Today’s MLM is brought to you by Ben E. King and Stand by Me. 

I don’t think you can be between the ages of 35 and 40 and not have been influenced by this film – it’s one of the seminal experiences of growing up at the tail end of Generation X, when all the Baby Boomers were making films about coming of age. Between this and The Goonies – you couldn’t ask for better films. So many epic films about childhood and teen years in those mid 1980s (not least my favourite, Pretty In Pink) that said everything about friendship and values that ever needed saying.

p.s. just as an aside, can you belive River Phoenix has been dead for 20 years. That’s just made me feel so old. In fact, he died on October 31st.

Anyway, apart from having Much Love for the childhood epics of 1985 and 86, I’ve also got Much Love for being older. Friendships when you are young are so complicated. Rare are those times when you find a friend you really love and trust as a teenager – especially since you live in each other’s pockets. Nowadays, you can just say “I like you very much!” and not have to care about whether they just want to copy your homework or whether they are going to bitch about how many times you’ve rolled your skirt up, or how big your blazer is, or how flat and crappy your hair looks.

I think it’s only when you’re older, too, that you get to appreciate being part of a community. I mean, I was part of a great community growing up – my extended family had plenty of children, cousins, aunties, uncles and the likes – and I lived in a suburban heaven. We went to church and Brownies and Guides or cubs. We had village fêtes and were attendants for the Rose Queen. We had school fairs and discos and slid on our knees across the hall floor. But when you’re a child, surrounded by a safe bubble like this, you don’t really understand that this is something to cherish.

That’s why yesterday was such a fantastic day. It was the bi-annual book fair for the Hope Association (as it has been since Friday and still is today for those people tidying up!) and though I was feeling pretty grotty on my way up, from the moment I got there, I felt that old sense of what it means to be a part of something bigger than myself. I had barely got in through the door when it’s hugs and kisses from this person or that person, beaming smiles from my ‘regular’ friends. In fact, I DIDN’T get in through the door for a good five minutes because I had a good old catch up with someone right at the door. And I could have spent all weekend there, I am sure, catching up with the people I don’t get to see very often. I think you search all your life for that place where it feels like home, where people are glad to see you and you can really feel the love!

So yes, the book sale raises thousands of pounds to help out the local SPAs, to help rehome animals who have been abandoned and help take the weight off the rehoming charities out here. Yes, it helps out Twilight, the doggie retirement home. It does all of these things. And that is lovely. But what it does more is make a community out of a band of ex-pats, bringing them from miles and miles to come together and smile.

Sure, some of us see each other more regularly (though never as regularly as we’d like) but for most of us out here, afloat in a sea of Frenchness, it’s nice to catch up with people we haven’t seen for yonks. So, big, big Monday smooches to the Hope Association. It’s so much more than just helping out animals who need a home. Plus, it allows me to tick off one box in my requirement list for finding people I like. Must Love Animals. (Though I suspect a fair few had gone to share another of my requirements. Must Love Fish and Chips.) ANNNNNNDDDD – most of all – it allows me to identify those people who meet the most important of my requirements: Must Love Books.

We mere mortals can have no real idea of what it is like, twice a year, to arrange and organise thousands and thousands of books, then pack them up and put them back in storage til the next time. And that’s just the books. There’s the cake-making and the tea, the calendars and the raffle, the toilet cleaning and the mopping up after the visitors have all gone home.

So, aside from helping out abandoned animals, eating fish and chips, eating fantastic cake, having lovely cups of tea, meeting up with so many people I don’t get to see enough of, petting several rescued doggies, cooing over the calendar pictures, you would maybe wonder where I got the time to search out any books.

But search I did. I found all of my reading material for the winter for less than 20€. Limiting myself to one bag of books is a little difficult, but I am very pleased with my lovely ‘new’ books.

After all that, I don’t think I have much more Monday love left.

Let’s hope today is as good as yesterday!

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2 thoughts on “Whenever you’re in trouble…

  1. I love book sales. We used to go to many of them every year and you would run into the same people. Not actual friends but other people who liked books you had met at previous sales. Now we only go to the very best one which is held in spring (mostly because we have too many books – they are stacked in double rows on many of the shelves). That is also a charity sale but for a group of singers.

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