Sunday, August 26, 2012

Breton moon child on moped

My son François Skyvington has just terminated a whole year of shooting a TV travelogue series, which will soon be broadcast regularly by the Franco-German chain Arte. The shows will start in a week's time, on 3 September 2012, at 18h30 (Monday to Friday). Breton media have just started to roll the publicity ball, with an interview in the prestigious Ouest France daily (incidentally, one of the finest newspapers and media organizations in France).

For French-language readers, here's the start of the article:

[Click to enlarge]

As I see things, my son's burgeoning TV career is a logical outcome of his extraordinary gift for immediate introspection into what makes individual people tick. In my personal case, any such genetic inheritance failed to make itself manifest (I'm totally incapable of evaluating people, places and situations), but I'm convinced that we can identify the ancestors of François who gave him such genes. I'm thinking, of course, of his grandfather Jacques Mafart [1916-2011] and his grandmother Kathleen Walker [1918-2003], who both expressed, differently but amazingly, this exceptional talent. In talking like this, I'm aware that maybe I might be seeking sillily the proverbial origins of the smile of the latest baby in the sepia images of ancestors. But I persist in believing that the exceptional skills of François as an introspective TV interviewer ring a bell in my memories, and that the genealogical associations that I'm evoking enable us (me, in any case) to better appreciate his talents.

POST SCRIPTUM: The French expression "doux dingue" might be translated as "mild eccentric" or "gentle crackpot". Normally, an individual described as a "doux dingue" of something or other would be thought of as a fanatic, who eats and sleeps with the objects of his obsessive adoration. In fact, the relationship between my son and mopeds is not at all of this all-embracing nature. He likes mopeds, I think, in much the same way that I used to like bikes or, more recently, donkeys. But don't expect François to seek election as the president of the French National Society of Moped Lovers (if such an association exists). He simply hit upon an interesting item of sociological data: namely, the fact that, for an entire generation of French youths, starting in the 1980s, the moped was a synonym of liberty, enabling them to escape momentarily and simply from the family cocoon. Then François combined this observation with the obvious fact that this "escape" of the moped rider is strictly slow speed, enabling him to count the roadside daisies on rural roads and, above all, enter into immediate contact with people encountered along the way. So, in my son's mind (if I can speak for him), there emerged this concept of an exceptionally user-friendly old-fashioned vector for personal transport. I wasn't particularly surprised, therefore, when François phoned me excitedly during their shooting in the Cévennes to tell me that he had just met up with a fabulous book, Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes, written in 1879 by a certain Robert Louis Stevenson [1850-1894].

And nobody, of course, would ever dare to refer to the Scottish author of Treasure Island as a gentle crackpot.

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