The fete de la musique is officially on 21 June but often takes place on the nearest weekend instead

The fêtes continue. Saturday night I was helping the AIPB run the bar and then clear away at the Foiuilles de Vieilles Pierres at St Sylvain Bas le Roc. The bar was open air, which I hadn’t expected, and I froze since I was in barmaid attire and not a sensible, warm outfit! Today was Ruadhri’s school kermesse (another word for fête). Rors and I helped set up this morning and then this afternoon I womanned the cash box. I’m getting to be rather good at that. We cycled there and back both times, so I was in my cycling shorts. And I froze during the afternoon. A stiff, icy breeze got up from somewhere and whistled around my cash-collecting table. It wasn’t very busy at the kermesse, sadly, but not surprisingly. It was all rather last minute and the Sunday afternoon slot isn’t a good one. There’s too much going on at weekends these days. There were fêtes de la musique going on at Boussac and Vijon that I knew of in the immediate vicinity, plus numerous other fêtes a little further afield. We used to hold the kermesse on Friday evenings after school, which was very good timing. Everyone was hungry and we made a lot on food. Plus it ended promptly at seven when people drifted home for tea, even if they’d just had sandwich frites and gateau. That seemed to be a winning formula, but for whatever reason we’ve changed to Sundays and it’s not a good move. However, all the kids enjoyed themselves so it wasn’t all bad.

As well as fête season, it’s form season. There are a plethora of sheets of paper to fill in at the end of the summer term, nearly as many as at the beginning of the autumn term. So far we’ve filled out a very long grant application form for Benj. Then there are demands for school transport to be completed, plus copies of the various justificatifs to be scanned or photocopied and attached. Never mind that they’re the same ones, year in and year out. You have to supply them anew each time. And there are the moving up forms. In Ireland, and England too, it’s the norm that you move up to the next year at school, unless there are very persuasive reasons as to why not. But here it’s never that certain. Even in Ruadhri’s tiny school of around 15 pupils, there will be 1 or 2 who redouble ie repeat a year. Personally, I think it’s a bit overdone, as is the practice of kids jumping years. I know four kids who have made the saut. Apart from Caiti, who was catching up with her age group at college and had mastered French adequately, the is no obvious reason why the other children have been pushed on. They don’t appear to be child prodigies, and all that will happen is that they’ll start college before they’re really ready to in terms of maturity. It’s a puzzling practice, especially given the obsession with making kids redo a year’s schooling.

Anyway, moving up involves paperwork. A document comes home, hinting at what the outcome will be ie progressing or redoubling. You read it, sign and date it, express an opinion if you can be bothered, and return the form. This same document comes back with the official decision a month or so later. You read it, sign and date it, either accepting the decision or disputing it. You can fight a proposed redoublement and ask for it to be referred to the Academie (education committee) of your area if the school persists in insisting on it, but the Academie’s ruling is final. When I asked for Caiti to jump a year, that went to the Academie too. The school were in favour of the move, but had to get official agreement which luckily they did.

And any day now I’ll receive a wodge of things to fill in for the lycée for Caiti’s rentrée in September, but those I can ignore until the day before she goes back. And as soon as Benj gets his Bac results through, there’ll be more forms, hopefully all related to him starting at Limoges and not having to retake exams, or redo Terminale.

So, keep a pen handy at this time of year is my advice!