Mimie has winning ways, too – as does Mimi (+ cast of thousands)
Mimie is not to be left out. Most certainly not. Perish the thought!
Within 24 hours of my last sighting of Mado, there was a huge kerfuffle outside my door. Bang! Went the fist on the door. Rrrrring! Went the doorbell. Slap! Went the foot on the floor.
“MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, t’es là ou quoi, Mee-nee?”
She’s back! Mimie, bearing with alarming insouciance a brimming bowl of soup that “Mummy has made and she wondered if you’d like some” – [kiss, kiss] and how’reyou I’msoooopleasedtoseeyouagain! – the soup’s made to a Moroccan recipe, with lamb – mmmm, it’s good!”
Slowly and carefully I removed the bowl from her hands just in time to prevent some of the contents tipping onto the parquet. Good soup? Hardly. Not even close. More soup as treat for the tastebuds: lamb, vegetables, stock, haricots blancs, lightly spiced – packed with flavour. ‘Good’ doesn’t begin to describe it. And it’s rib-sticking scoff to boot. So not only delicious, fragrant and full of goodness – but also filling. Now that is a soup …
Mimie plumped herself down next to me, eyeing me keenly, settling in. “Minnie, what brought you to Nice? Tell!” she demanded. Mimie does not ‘do’ smalltalk. Well, I don’t, won’t usually – tell; but this was an exception. So I told. She folded her hands on her lap, looking at me with bright eyes, head cocked, her few interjections editorial, forensic. Mimie at my side – and on it, making me doubly fortunate.
In fact over the past week fortune – that capricious baggage – has smiled at me a few times. Or at least aimed a vague grin in my general direction. The first occurred at the ticket office on the day of the trip to Tende. After a nice chat, the even nicer lady at the booking office decided to offer me a discount. On the basis of my possessing the requisite carte. Which I didn’t. Possess, that is. Still, due to my miraculous brandishing of this famously invisible carte, I was rewarded with a 40 percent discount. Clever or what? I blush. Just don’t ask me to repeat the trick.
Anyway the resultant savings meant I could eat in a restaurant at lunchtime – actually go and sit down and eat something hot prepared by someone else, no less! A welcome change to my customary watchful lurking on a bench while I make short work of a hunk of bread and a chunk of cheese.
So that’s what I did – eat in a resto’, as opposed to the usual park-bench-hunched-lunch. And in honour of the fact that Tende was Italian until 62 years ago, I had a good, hearty plateful of pasta. Not only that but the remaining budget even ran to a deliciously cold beer, which I savoured in the late afternoon sunshine outside a café in the town’s square before trotting off to catch the return train. De luxe relaxation, Min-style.
Then Arte (Franco-German telly channel devoted to matters cultural/geographical/anthropological & several other -als) broadcast yet more glory. It regaled viewers with a ravishing La Bohème from Bern. The production set the opera in and around a suburban council tower block, a bus stop and a shopping centre complete with bar. Erm, that would be a real suburban council high-rise, etc., etc. Yes, really! With inhabitants and locals of all ages, all well-rehearsed, participating – those who didn’t were watching from their ringside seats.
It was riveting. The production and filming worked a treat – and the cast were visibly enthused, stimulated to perform at the top of their bent by the immediacy of the setting and the proximity of the audience. Leading singers included lovely Maya Boog (a perfect Mimi), sweet-toned tenor Saimir Pirgu (Rodolfo), Eva Liebaun (a vivacious, warm-toned Musetta) and English baritone, Robin Adams (a striking, resounding Marcello, packed with presence while also participating seamlessly in the ensemble – definitely one to watch).
The overall result of this bold endeavour was to make the tragedy overwhelmingly uplifting. And it reached out successfully to so many. For a night or two, a dodgy part of Bern was transformed. I suspect the event will give many of the amateur participants some enduring memories to treasure and, perhaps, for some of the younger ones, dreams to follow. And at least the opera house and its company and orchestra will have been both de-mystified and rendered more approachable. As it should be – why shouldn’t anybody and everybody have access to the best of good music and drama?
Next, picking up the usual liberal interpretation of the ‘half-baguette’ theme at the dépôt de pain, I discovered I had forgotten my purse. I was waved away with a smile. Returning later, I saw the nice lass serving looking shocked: “But you didn’t come here especially, did you?” she asked. Well, no. All the same, I’d been let off yet again – a minor gesture, but one of kindness and trust. And, in my experience of Nice (all of a year), a reasonably regular occurrence.
Finally, I’ve encountered the magnificent Keeper of the Shrine three times in the past week – once out of context, in the Cours. Needless to say she was invariably superbly dressed on each occasion – quietly elegant and colour-co-ordinated to the tips of her sandal-shod toes. I’ve definitely ‘arrived’, as TKOTS now stops to exchange a few words whenever time allows. Fanciful as ever, I chose to regard her as an emissary from la Patronne (Reparata). And anyway, I quite simply like the woman.
All of which probably means that Providence (or what Kingsley Amis dubbed ‘Bastards’ HQ’) is liable to cause something very, very horrible to happen – Bliar becoming President of the EU, for example. All the more reason, therefore, to heed La Bohème’s powerful message to seize life while you can!
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