Low-Grade Riot in Pézenas
We went en famille to Pézenas yesterday for the Mardi Gras parade. I’m not sure what I was expecting - probably something like the kind of thing we get in the UK for carnivals - trashy floats, and the occasional display of artistic brilliance. Maybe even some morris dancers.
None of that - this was more like something out of the Wicker Man.
All the children of the town (and a fair number of the adults) were dressed up - white sheets and face paint seemed to be favourite, and intent on throwing as much flour, eggs, shaving foam, or silly string as they could. Everyone also seemed to have fireworks, ranging from tiny firecrackers, to some serious bangers.
Now as a teenager, I came close to blowing myself up once too often with home made / modified fireworks. As a result, I now have a big wide yellow streak down my back when it comes to non-professionally organised fireworks displays. So when kids are lighting and throwing them in the street just a few yards from me, my reptillian brain takes over, and I just have to get out of there.
The centre of the festival was a . . . er . . . wicker man (no, really), and a big cloth and wooden horse (le Poulain de Pézenas). Both were escorted by a drumming band, and a large number of adults dressed up rather strangely - many of these were carrying nasty / nasty and smelly things with which to terrorise the spectators. These ranged from rotten fish & squid to raw pigs trotters, and even condoms filled with blood. Lovely.
Meanwhile, the children and adults in white sheets were busy with their junior-level criminal damage. Things like smearing parked cars with eggs and flour; throwing fireworks into gardens; tipping over the rubbish bins; smearing their faces with blue paint and kissing strangers. Stuff like that.
This is a strange country.