Non, je ne regrette rien

The power of music


8/6/20232 min read

Do you ever reflect on how you came to take some of life's biggest decisions? I know that I certainly do. Sometimes one can debate things ad infinitum: make lists of points, both for and against a certain line of action; or undertake arduous research. But at other times one can suddenly make a snap decision, without any deliberation at all. Sometimes that may even turn out for the best.

brown concrete statue of man
brown concrete statue of man

I was thinking about this yesterday as I drove into town. We had often talked out how nice it would be to live in France . But what actually led us to come here, to make that commitment to a new home, to a new country and language? In the past we had enjoyed many summer holidays in France, on our bicycles , or travelling in our old VW combi campervan. The vast open spaces, and traffic free roads offered us the perfect counterpoint to our stressful lives in middle England. But to leave England behind for good after early retirement, was a big step.

I reached the edge of town, passing close to the route du soleil motorway where I saw that all the southbound traffic was in complete gridlock. This was a rare sight, but then yesterday was an infamous 'Black Saturday,' when everyone throughout France heads off on holiday. The town was quiet however, and as I parked, music played from the car radio. The legendary Edith Piaf, la môme moineau, or sparrow kid, was belting out a song with all her heart and soul...the very music that we would often listen to at home during those years in England . We must have played it so often that our sons conspired eventually to hide the tape. Whilst we might well have spent ages balancing out the points both for and against a move to France, the emotional power of music suddenly became very clear to me. For it was Edith Piaf and her amazing voice, a voice that conveys the nostalgia, the poetry, the very essence of French- ness, who was almost entirely responsible for calling us across the channel.