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The Man from Another Century

Tonight we met a man from another time and another century.   His name is James.

He survives everyday of his lovely retirement in France taking care of his elderly mother, who doesn’t need taking care of because she still does “wait-staff” work for various theatrical functions in Cassis. She’s almost 90.    Her son meanwhile researches various documents of French history, ranging from the study  of the Capetian dynasty (also known as the House of France, to little known wineries that hold humongous secrets.)


L'autoroute française A50 entre Aubagne et Roq...

L’autoroute française A50 entre Aubagne et Roquefort-la-Bédoule (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Flag of the region Île-de-France in F...

English: Flag of the region Île-de-France in France, and of the kingdom of France (s.XIV-XV) Français : Drapeau de la région Île-de-France en France et du royaume de France (s.XIV-XV) 한국어: 이 것은 일드프랑스의 깃발입니다. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the wineries he discussed with us was ROQUEFORT LA BÉDOULE     (  )  east of Cassis, and a  medieval village that is NOT on the main stream for tourists.  It’s a secret.      The owner of this prestigious but modest winery is a Marquis, but never mentions this in introductions nor is it embossed on any stationary.  That is from the past, and those that are from a royal Bourbon line mostly keep it low-key or hidden.    The older generation who know who they are,  revere them from afar, but todays young people think of them as “just like them,”  no different, same workers, “boulot, dodo, metro” kind of guy, only with a winery………..  Little do they know…….

James, however,  knew more than the owner about his own legacy with the famous vineyard.   The owner knows, of course,  from where he came, but he does not dwell on his heritage.  He cares impeccably for his vineyard instead.


James speaks to us of these newest discoveries, our mouths hanging open, because although he cannot always find the English word to describe his newest research project, we get the gist and I start asking questions and making him spell things so that I can later look it up on the internet.  Then the bomb came.  He has no computer, no cell phone, no TV, and continues his work and research not in large “bibliothèque” (Libraries) that often have cameras in the corner, & too many computers, but also have  a security screener, SO, he  instead ops for the small mediathèque  in the smaller villages.  He often looks at and deciphers manuscripts that are ancient texts, that need to be handled with gloves, if they are even able to be handled at all. They used to be.  Not so much now.

I shake my head.  J’adore ma cell phone .  I would not give it up willingly. But I’ve met a man, that has no cell phone, has no desire for one, nor a computer, nor anything that finds answers fast because he says, he “finds it superficial”.  So, he TALKED to us, face to face, describing events.  He tells of  a “ line of the rose”  – Sainte Rosaline  – where he’s knows a possible relative of hers and has a deep desire to talk with her.

English: St Roseline church in Roquefort la Bé...

English: St Roseline church in Roquefort la Bédoule (Bouches du Rhône – France) Français : Église Sainte Roseline à Roquefort la Bédoule (Bouches du Rhône – France) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


She’s a bit difficult and evasive and untouchable, so it’s going to be a difficult road. Even though she’s passionate about her own history, he doubts he can “get his foot in the door.”  Ahhhh, if I just knew French better, I would get in the door for him …..he needs to talk to her.

SO!   This is for my friend Gudrun, who hates technology like James.  I’m lucky to get an e-mail from this gal once a year, on an iPad given to her by her frustrated father-in-law who wanted to remain “connected”.

Frankly being 6000 miles away I  couldn’t dream of not being able to keep in touch with my friends and family without the internet.

But for James, this is not a problem.  He is in Marseille. His mum is in Cassis.   He watches over her, and in between does something in this age that is unheard of……….survives without technology, writes snail mail, researches manuscripts – in a LIBRARY –  –  only has a land-line, never watches television.  Instead, he VISITS people, looks at people  in the eyes, talks to their faces,  – what is this??      I **LOVE** this man.

Few and far between.

This is dedicated to Gudrun and Melanie who are two friends who despite the onslaught of new and innovative progress in the world of a global computer driven networks have remained without.  (I couldn’t do it, but – )    but   – – –  Kudos   to    you that can.





2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Cindy Tyson #

    How amazing! I could sit and listen to his stories all day long. They are stories that may never be told again.

    November 3, 2013
  2. DACO #

    Loved this story….you’ve captured the essence of James’ personality. Wish I could join him sometimes on his research projects.

    November 4, 2013

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