Val Wineyard Publishing

Val Wineyard Publishing

Summer Everlasting 2017

 5th August.  Disturbing changes ahead. 

I decided that I wanted to move house.  Winter would be upon us before we knew it, I didn't want to spend another winter in Couiza, seeing no-one from one day or week to the next.  Besides, I really needed a garden for the dog and my mother had left me a small legacy (to my total surprise) so I put my house on the market.  Within a week I had found the house (with a garden that the dog loves) that I wanted to buy but I still need to sell my house here.   Stalemate!  I posted details with various agents and on Facebook, so many friends shared, so many said how nice the house looked, I had one visit from an estate agent - and that was it!
    Am I dreaming?  Unrealistic?


Never mind, Michel Aubenas was playing at the Café de France that night, lots of blues, loved it, made a film that I'm proud of.   Click here to see it.

6th August

Went up to Rennes-le-Château, while in the bookshop Hélène said, "These people have just bought your book!" Indeed, the man was carrying a copy of "The Mayor That was Me."  They were amazed at the coincidence.  So we all went to Le Jardin de Marie and had a wonderful time.  It IS said in publishing circles that for every book sold there are ten readers.  In this case, there seems to be one hundred!  "The Mayor That Was Me" is my most popular book with the most glowing reviews, but I find it sells only if people can pick it up and hold it in their hands, never by mail order.

Click here to see the book.

9th August

This morning I got up to walk Prisca to find a favorite plantpot - the doggie one - had been stolen during the night. Suddenly looking at Couiza with different eyes. The photo is from my last house before this one. When I first moved here, people from my last village used to come to see me and recognised my house by this doggie pot.

  The local people told me that thefts were common! and that I should have informed the Mairie of the theft.  I found that strange, as when I first came to Couiza they told me how honest everybody was!  Others said it happened every August, when the holiday home owners were here. But there seemed little point in a formal complaint, they weren't going to send the gendarmes out to find a stolen flower-pot, however cute it was, were they?
10th August

   I found where Irish Steve was "buried" today; you remember, he died back in June.  I used to bump into him in the park when I was walking the dog and have long philosophical chats, another time he was on the bus going to Quillan; he'd been found drunk the night before and had spent the night in the cells at Carcassonne!  Steve had never asked for anything from anyone, he was a mason and earned a part-time living doing masonry work for people.  He often made me laugh with his tales of digging the tunnel from Graham Simmans' house towards the Rennes-le-Château graveyard, looking for the Treasure of Jerusalem . . .

  The Couiza municipality buried Steve in what the English would call "a pauper's grave" and I found it in the graveyard at Couiza.  Some French people there explained that this is where the remains of people without relatives are "laid to rest," in a communal vault. Some graveyards, such as Rennes-les-Bains, actually have a "paupers' corner" with little wooden crosses on the graves, but in Couiza they have this communal tomb.  Steve’s final resting place is the one with the crooked handle.  That would have amused him.

IrishSteve.jpg  IrishSteve.JPG
  This wasn't anything much to look at with nowhere to leave flowers or anything, but I felt better for seeing this tomb; I felt I had said goodbye properly. Some French people there in the graveyard told me his leg had tangled in the bike and he couldn’t get out, and so drowned.  Horrific.  I was so disturbed that he had died that way.

  Rest in peace, Irish Steve.

14th August 2017 

Mother’s funeral today. My children sent flowers.
  My stars said;  A massive aspect around the moon in Taurus means all about money and finances.  I actually received an inheritance!
August 20th - 21st
Oh these summer nights in Languedoc!  How anyone gets any sleep I do not know, if it’s not a village fête it’s a thunderstorm or cats courting and howling in the night.  (They all meet under a parked car in front of my house, I call it the Cat’s Courting Club.)  The worst is the annual Montazels fête up the hill, about a kilometre away.  They don’t perceive the music as very loud there because it all floats down the hill to Couiza.


  They didn't even start until midnight and the music woke me at 2 am.  It was hot so I had to have the window open, but not too wide open or else Prisca threatens to jump out (my bedroom is on the top floor) when the Cats’ Courting Club starts howling.  I gave up trying to sleep so made myself a pastis and listened to the music, which was quite good actually, I used to hang around with rock bands in my youth so I knew, and every note was crystal clear, as were the words of the songs!

  At 3-15 am I heaved a sigh of relief when they finished but then a disco took over!  An hour later I heard police sirens - a hill fire?  a fight? - an accident - and then the disco continued until 5am, they were playing “we will rock you.”  Indeed!  Then they set off fireworks, the bangs and flashes frightened the dog, her head was under the covers, peace eventually descended at 5am. 

  How do the French people stand it?  The theory is that they sleep during the day, but I find it too hot.  I looked at my Stars with amazement.  Massive solar eclipse in the sign of Leo.  Marvellous.  The next six months glorious for persuing your heart’s desire. Your fifth house energy is overflowing with goodness and powerful vibes, the next six months will be a great time to get something that you’ve always wanted.  As my natal moon is in the sign of Leo too, does this mean I will sell one house and buy another? Before next February?

23rd August  A change of mood.

 A square to Saturn makes a problem, you may be unfeeling or unsympathetic to some one who does really need you.
 SunnyKris.JPG  Kris at the bar St Anne
    I forgot this prediction when I went to a meeting with Kris Darquis as she had requested at the Bar St Anne.  It was hilarious.  She wants me to be the publisher of her new book, she told me, and I was vaguely interested in being so, but then she explained, she needs a "publisher" to give her a "cover" as her main work limits her from having any other businesses, she wants me to do the lay-out and pay the printer, but all the rights of the book will be hers!  What's more, she does not want to pay me for this.  “But the book will sell so many copies you will make a fortune!” she said. 

  I don’t think she understands publishing at all.  I was so fascinated by this conversation I never ordered a drink.  I was thinking I might have a glass to celebrate the restoration of our friendship if the vibes had been right - but they weren't.

  Then there were all hugs and kisses, she and Jean-Luc were glad we were friends again at last, they hate bad feeling! they said.

  The following evening I was at the bar and was told they had left without paying and could I settle up?  The barman wondered why I burst out laughing!

 24th August

Don't know if I can stand all these changes.  I went round to Ulpian to hear that it is true what Kris had told me, Ulpian are going to close, for ever, on 31st August.  I was offended, no-one had told me and also, that I was not invited to the leaving party they had had.  I had held events at Ulpian and done everything to support them; was this a French solidarity thing? I thought we were friends!


  Certainly they supported the publication of my book about Berenger Saunière and his life . . .

DSC06631.JPG  Best.JPG 
. ..even if the owner did not want his face to appear!  Patrice, who worked for him, has no such problems.  In fact we have become firm friends and since then have worked together on various projects.

  But the boader issue?  On a more practical level, the closing of Ulpian means that from now on the only outlet for my books will be the new Atelier Empreinte at Rennes-le-Château.

  Now THAT is something to think about.  Since I have been here in Couiza a lot has changed.  Within days of my arrival, The Angel Gallery at Alet, which sold my books, had closed due to illness.  I went along to their closing sale and bought some things for my new house . . . then the old Atelier Impreinte went bankrupt and the owners of the Porte de Rennes gift shop took it over and made it successful, but now, Ulpian in Couiza has gone.
  It is bizarre, but the Rennes-le-Château I knew and loved, and the scene around it, no longer exists now.  What will replace it I wonder?

1st September

I often see this book for sale, in the bookshop at Rennes-le-Château and at various summer markets, with its author, Tatiana Kletzky-Pradere, who is quite an old lady now.

Tatiana'sBook .jpeg  LocalGuide.JPG 
  She has been writing guides to Rennes-le-Château since almost before Rennes-le-Château began! I still have her "Visitor's Guide" published in English in 1997. It is amusing because the picture on the cover is of Alfred and the picture on the inside is of Bérenger. Those were the days of Sonia Moreu and Alain Ferral. Tatiana's books are still in print after what must be more than thirty years, translated from the French into English, German, Italian too, and are as fresh as ever. The 1997 version finishes; "Given that Bérenger Saunière christened his dog Pomponnet, and his monkey, Mela, might not Rhedae be that Pyrene with a fabulous treasure buried in its mines, which the Greek historian Herodotus talks of, around 420BC, and which the Spanish writer Pomponnius Mela located precisely to the south of Carcassonne?"

6th September

I asked Tony Bontempi to come and give me some advice about dealing with the authorities as a freelance person.  When I said how difficult I found it he just said “welcome to France’ or words to that effect which I did not actually find very helpful!  Later he insisted that he had told me it would last until the end of the year. It was late December when France announced it was cancelling the present clumsy system for collecting taxes from small business.  Luckily, I had already claimed exemption, which was cheerfully given.  So he was right.

  Meanwhile he's talking about translating the Marie d'Ables book but translation is a tricky thing. It means a lot of work and liaison and with my everyday French, I cannot calculate if the result is in the same spirit in which I originally wrote it.   I trusted Kris Darquis with the Claudia Procula book, which has amazingly proved some ten times more interesting to the French than the English version did to the English.  Meanwhile, some of the strange religious practices I described in the Marie d'Ables book, that the local nobility practiced at the time, are known to the French but not to the English.  Lots to think about!

  To see more about the book, click here.

  So in the evening I got my Suduko comic and went a spend a mindless happy hour in front of the bar St Anne, watching the autumn sun flicker through the chestnut tree.  Well, life in this region could be worse . . . .
  In the end, I did decide against publishing Marie d'Ables in French.

Wednesday13th Sept   Went to to RleC with Patrice but felt very soon that there was nothing much there for me; at least Prisca loves it and enjoys her obligatory walk around the ramparts!  We had a chat with Thierry, Lucie's friend. I thought I’d better shout out to Thierry to make a good reason for parking, as it's no parking there and Monsieur le Marie was renovating the house next door to Thierry's.  He and his mates were very good company and he kept pulling secret faces when talking about the mayor. I dragged Patrice away for a drink, Le Jardin wasn’t open but the Reine du Château was, a glass of wine was 3€ - twice the price it is in Couiza - and I only had 11€ to pay for 4!!!  the young woman server was worried we were going to run off I think!


  Mind you, the place and setting ARE unique even if it does cost a bit more.

18th September 2017 - Enemy action!

 Early morning and I was up early as David Warr, my friend and distribution manager for Val Wineyard Publishing was due to visit.  I pushed the various buttons - but I had no Internet and no phone!  What the f. . . . ? Just a message on the screen saying pay the phone bill or else, with a tel no to call.  I went through all my bank statements etc, and I had paid, the cheques have gone through my account.  (I found later it was because I had not signed the BCKS of the cheques - that's all - but the still kept my money.) I rang the number but it was a recorded message - I was OK until it asked for the numbers on my credit card, but then it wanted something else I didn't understand.  (I now know it was the secret code on the back of the credit card.).  They offered NO option to speak to a counsellor, the entire thing is recorded.  I need a French person to do it and the only one I could think of is Tony  . . .  a neighbour suggested I went to the SFR shop in Carcassonne, a good idea as my lift and I were going to meet David off the plane that afternoon.  But the SFR shop, the other shops in the Bastide told me, had been closed for over a year!

  When we got home David was very kind and spent hours trying to resurrect an old mobile phone I had, the it was no good, the charger was a SFR one and so they blocked the mobile too!

22nd September.  Discovered a mobile message from SFR saying that I must pay, so I sent them some money - anything to get my phone and Internet back, I was going crazy.  David and I toured the village, the school and the tourist office were offering WiFi - but you had to being your own machine, which wouldn't work because SFR had blocked it!  My God, it was a Catch22 feeling!  Then Tony Bontempi came round, bless his heart and spoke to SFR in French, I had to pay another 109 Euros, but they said I would be reconnected in 24 hours.  (In the event, it was a Friday night and it wasn't connected until Monday morning, and my God, I was "sweating" on that, as my father used to say when he was playing bingo and waiting for his number to be called.) So the next day Tony kindly rang his server, Bouygues for me to see if they could "take me in hand."

 25th September

Well, David was interested in selling his land at Usson (See the book about Usson here) and I met someone at the Bar St Anne who said he would be interested in looking at it, so the next day the three of us sped off to Usson.   On the journey I really didn’t like the mountains, and those two road tunnels in the rocks - “crushed” is the word that comes to mind, I want to be in the open air, maybe by the sea.  Stomach heaving, felt so sad, just cuddled Prisca in the back seat.  We got there and looked around, it had changed since I was last there, picnic tables have been provided, notices are up, grass has been cut, the area tidied, altogether much improved.  The sun came out for us by a miracle.

CastleApples.JPG    HistoricalDetails.JPG 
  We got back to Quillan in the pouring rain, made a headlong dash for the restaurant, frightened dog under my arm, on the way Stephane came out of Jammes Estate Agency with an umbrella.  "I've got somebody coming to see your house tomorrow!" he said to me.


SO - did my problems get resolved before I had a nervous breakdown?  See next month's amazing episode!

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