There are a couple of things I had been meaning to write about but I had not started because they were both quite big pieces. I had not worked out how to write pieces that were not inordinately long, and just getting down to write them outfaced me. Then help came to hand from the self-proclaimed ‘Reading’s Premier HumouristTM’ Mr London Street who wrote some pieces as two part items. Why not I thought? So here is part 1 of a two-part post.
Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis
I have already written about the trip JTO and I took to Dunkerque last month to celebrate our wedding anniversary on 11th September.(Yes how were we to know in 1999 the globally significant event which was to happen only two years later on the same day?) We were inspired to go by the film Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (film site):
Released in 2008 and the biggest box office success in France, the film is a comedic look at the regional stereotypes of France, pitting the sun-drenched idyll of the South against the North with its drunken, wife-beating, grimy industry, including mining, and filthy weather.(The people of the North, Ch’tis from the sh sound they make when talking giving the film its title.) It is now reportedly being remade by Hollywood. We took the train from Dunkerque and arrived in time to have lunch before starting the tour in front of the belfry on the town square, both of which play a part in the film. Our guide, pictured left, wore the hat, yellow shirt and waistcoat of a post office worker as featured in the film. Whilst walking around he told us anecdotes from the three and a half weeks the film was being made in the town, like how every business received a signed photo from the Director Danny Boon as a thank you for putting up with the inconvenience. On the right is the building used as the post-office in the film. It took so long to get any answer from the post office over whether it would be possible to film in the actual post-office in the town that this building was mocked up to look like the post-office. It was so realistic that people in the town kept leaving mail in the mailbox on the wall of it during filming. The picture on the left is taken looking across the canal at the spot where the two leading characters stop during a tour of the village delivering the mail, which includes calling at every house for a drink, to relieve themselves. Then we came to another iconic picture from the film, the window of a women’s underwear shop one of the male characters looks intently into to avoid another character before he fully realises the nature of the shop he is looking at so intently. After the tour we went up the belfry which played an important part in the film. Our guide, like the character played by the Director and well-known comedian Danny Boon, was the person who plays the keyboard which plays the bells. In the top right you can see the town hall which is where the wedding in the film takes place. Next to it is the genuine post-office and next to it the cafe where the day delivering the mail ends with the manager crashing his bike into it, which for the film was renamed. In the square also was the van selling chips which is where the initial bonding between the new manager of the post office and his staff takes place. These views will be well familiar to anyone who has seen what is a very enjoyable and entertaining film about France. If you do not know the film I hope you have enjoyed some views of small-town France and do see the film, even with sub-titles it is well worth it.