Le Premier Marché

This is number twenty of the seventy poems I am writing to celebrate my forthcoming seventieth birthday. I am using music to stimulate ideas for my poetry and this week’s poem is inspired by two french troubadours who perform every week at the night market in St Maurin, a small French village in the Lot et Garonne.

Here is the fantastic Louis Armstrong singing “Just a Gigalo” Why this song? All will be revealed…

During the months of July and August many of the small villages in South West France have night markets. The town square will be set up with trestle tables and chairs and local producers will set up stalls selling hot food, wine etc. You pick a table and buy the food and wine and then listen to the entertainment. The village of St Maurin was one of the first to tun the Marche Gormand nights and they have proved to be very successful with about 400 people packing the square on a Wednesday night.

The band is always the same and the opening number is “Just a Gigalo”

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It always ends up with dancing, young and old, french and foreign tourists all doing the Madison or the birdie song. It sound terrible, I know, but there is something magical about it all, I that I can’t really explain.

It starts at the beginning of July and the first thing you notice is the arrival of the tourists especially the English. The Lot et Garonne is just below the Dordogne and as the private schools in England break up for their summer holidays before the state schools it’s a certain type of holiday maker that arrives first.

Le Premier Marché

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St Maurin buzzes with excitement

In the square are two familiar faces

Dressed in matching shirts

Accordion and guitar in hand

They begin another year

They begin the first Marche

I’m just a gigolo and everywhere I go
People know the part, I’m playin’
Paid for every dance, sellin’ each romance
Ooh, what they’re sayin’

Tables and plastic chairs emerge

Men dress in their faded shirts

Brushing the dust from their clean shorts

Woman press their best dresses

French fresh faced children

Floating kisses across upturned cheeks

Their parents prepare the buffet

Magret, Moules and Malbec

Listening for the first rumble

Of the Chelsea tractors

 

Just a gigolo, everywhere I go
People know the part I’m playing
Paid for every dance
Selling each romance

 

Trundling through the countryside

Blinking in the Tarn sunlight

The black beasts return

Disgorging blond children

Recently demobbed from private schools

The summer house has been opened

Cobwebs and floors swept

The pool has been cleaned

The grass has been cut

The fridge has been stocked

The day before they arrived

By that marvellous Portuguese woman

That Jocelyn recommended

 

Every night some heart betraying
There will come a day
Youth will pass away

 

Father’s in pressed jeans

Pink polo shirts and a panama hat

Dancing with their estranged children

Darkened teenagers lurch in corners

From around the world they come

From the depths of Surrey

From the flatlands of Holland

From the mountains of Bavaria

They begin another year

They begin the first Marché

 

Then what will they say about me
When the end comes I know 
They’ll say just a gigolo
As life goes on without me

© Jeff Price July 2017

Lyrics of “Just a Gigalo” by  Irving Caesar

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