PINK GUITAR

Numb and naked in the kitchen

You’re there popping your pills,

Mourning ritual habitual

Stem the overkills

You knock ‘em back like candy

I say you gone too far

You say «stop acting like you give a shit»

And you grab your pink guitar

 

So, You’re naked on the sofa

With your pink guitar,

Strumming out your dead bar blues,

(You got) Menopausal mourning

(An) Afterlife lament,

You sing «There’s nothing left,

And, nothing to lose.»

 

I’m just so tired of you now

And you’re sick of me to

We’ve gone from love to hate, to drifting through.

There was a once upon a time

We were partners in crime

What was ours, was yours, was mine

 

So I’m leaving this place

That we once called home,

(Oh) Where my heart don’t lie no more,

You gotta listen to your heart

‘Cos your heart never lies

That’s the, beatin’ truth for sure

 

And now I’m drifting

No fixed abode

Following my heart

Down this broken road,

This sure ain’t tripping

This ain’t no movie too

You’re road running in my head

Can’t run back to you

 

Now I’m sittin in a bar

In a town with no name

Or a name I can’t remember,

Been driving day an’ night

I can’t forget you right

Need a drink to forget you better.

 

And there’s a girl up on the stage

So full of hurt an’ rage

She’s strumming out on a pink guitar

Screaming her dead blues

Say’s she’s got nothing to lose

I hope she never gets that far.

 

 

The Ghosts of Deepest France

A night at the movies in La Courtine

In my pursuit of chartering those unchartered parts of France. Those towns and villages where the dead seem to outnumber the living – there are more people in the cemetery than   in town.

A few days away from civilisation in a place so deep in deepest France, that it can only be described as an abyss. Welcome to the heavily wooded but sparsely populated region of La Creuse, and more precisely the small town of La Courtine – one of these « forgotten » places that is also best forgot. A dead town of old souls reminiscent with overtones of « Deliverance » and « The Shining ».

Dead station in La Cortine

Deserted station at La Courtine

Almost a ghost town, La Courtine was one of these « outposts » that for generations, served as an important part of French military infrastructure – a huge military camp where national servicemen would be mobilised to do their patriotic duty, and fulfil their military debt to France. La Courtine camp was where national servicemen would do their basic training and after a hard day on the assault course, they would head into town for a hard night in one of the town’s numerous watering holes.

Last orders in La Courtine

 

Fat Sun’s pulled his last pint

Like hunters, diggers and cowboys of old, into to spend their pay and enjoy what few delights were on offer.

In 2000, President Jacques Chirac announced the official end to obligatory military service for all the nation’s able-bodied young men and La Courtine went from garrison town to ghost town.

Main Street La Courtine

Bars and shops shuttered up forever, tattered « for sale » signs » hanging forlornly in the window, both bankrupt former owners and local real estate agents knowing that no one in their right mind would ever want to buy in a place like this.

Alternative shot of the Bazar Universel

Dead bar in a dead own

Former Tabac Presse is just old news

There are ghosts of the past haunting every bar and every street. This town didn’t so much die as get shut in a time capsule.

No more cuts in La Courtine

Deceptively open

Staring in through the dusty windows of the former dance hall – the parquet dance floor still danceable enough for a quick twirl and the garish 50’s stage ready to welcome a local dance band. The long ‘s’ shaped Formica bar propped up by shadowy figures, as supernatural silhouettes trip the light fantastic across the floor and somewhere in the far away, the slight echo of a dance band. How many young soldiers got their first dance, first kiss, and first fight with jealous local lads at this dancehall?

Welcome to l’Esperance

Yes, this is France, this is dead France, this is old France, this is rural France, this is the France where Central government has almost given up on the people, this is neglected France, badly in need of investment. – This is deepest France.

War memorial fallen out of memory

Up the garden path

 

 

 

A Few Ghostly Thoughts.

No ghosts? Not even a fleeting phantom? Not even the slightest errant soul?

The tour guide shakes her head and “assures” me that the castle is not haunted.

You can’t have a castle without a ghost, that’s like Starsky without Hutch or Kojak without his lollipop (yes I betray my age.)

But I want a ghost or at least a spine-tingling ghost story about the castle. I am very disappointed. I almost feel like asking for my money back

This is France. The French don’t do ghosts, not like the Brits and the Americans. I live in the historic heart of France, there are chateaux everywhere, but not a single ghost

My town’s medieval centre is so thick with history, half -timbered houses and historic monuments that it is perfect for ghosts, but in the 25 years I’ve been here, I’ve never heard of a local ghost – if this were in Britain, there would be spirits, phantoms, headless noblemen, grey ladies, white ladies … all happily haunting away.

I get the feeling that it must be hard being a French ghost. Imagine after death, that you need a job as a ghost – well there are plenty of places that need haunting in France, but it seems that the French just don’t have ghosts – employment prospects for phantoms are therefore severely limited in France.

I often wondered why the French don’t have ghosts – sure they’ve got witches and demons and suchlike, but they’re not super on the supernatural. Could it be a religious issue? – this is a predominantly Catholic country and catholic doctrine doesn’t have much room for ghosts. The Spaniards and the Italians don’t have ghosts, yet the Irish have plenty of them (perhaps for the tourists).

A Frenchman visiting a chateau will not consider if it is haunted or not, yet on a tour of a British castle or Stately Home, the guide will always chuck in a ghost story.

So, next time you visit a French chateau and get a tingle down your spine – no, it’s not a ghost, it’s just a draught, and as for that murky apparition – your glasses need a good clean.