Grande Fête en Mineur
La première sortie en région transfrontalière a été écourtée en raison de problèmes techniques (notre relais de Jeumont était indisponible) et nous n'avions pas à bord le matériel feuillu que nous comptions redistribuer en forêt... (il était une fois ce la zone dont nous parlons était densément boisée) et nous nous sommes vite rendu compte de l'autre côté de la frontière qu'il n'y avait absolument aucun intérêt à faire la fête ou à se régaler - en fait, c'était un calme mortel...
L'une des raisons pourrait être que tous les feux d'artifice avaient été utilisés lors des émeutes de la semaine précédente, ainsi que la répression qui a suivi, et juste une inquiétude générale quant à la prémisse d'origine, à savoir la liberté, l'égalité et la fraternité... qui ont tous pris un coup dans les dernières décennies... Ainsi, dans un nord de la France très calme, nous avons été réduits à quelques visites fortuites et à une sorte de pique-nique autodidacte sur un banc publique surplombant l'Escaut à Valenciennes, en écoutant le soundcheck d'un festival de parking à venir ce soir-là. .. nous n'avons pas traîné.
First outing in the trans-border region was kept short due to technical problems (our relay station in Jeumont was unavailable) and we did not have on board the leafy material we intended to redistribute in the forest... (once upon a time this area we speak of was densely forested) and we soon realized on the other side of the border that there was absolutely no interest in party nor feast – in fact it was quite deadly quiet...
One reason might be because all the fireworks had been used up in the riots the week before, along with the following clampdown, and just general misgiving about the original premise, being liberty, equality and fraternity... all of which have taken a battering in the last decades...
So, in a very quiet northern France, we were reduced to some incidental sightseeing and a sort of self-made picknick on a perk bench overlooking the Scheldt river at Valenciennes, listening to the soundcheck of a parking-lot festival to come that evening... we didn't hang around.
In fact it was quite fitting as first attempt to define the region known as the 'Borinage' – while some find that it denotes a specific region south of Mons, others consider any coal-mining area along the French-Belgian border as being such... in this first investigation we skirt this border of the original (minimal) interpretation, while knowing that it does extend further... let us say it fails to define itself... here we have to think of Vincent Van Gogh, who's attempt to aid the disaffected mineworkers never really caught on... in fact he himself was a charity case... (visits to his two houses now museums are for another time)
Lack of animation, drive, joie-de-vivre is part and parcel of the region, the experience, the tonality as it were: it would be unfitting to claim otherwise – the attempts by municipalities to bring cheer into the neighborhood are usually quite sorry affairs, the attempts by artists to convey a sort of philosophical beauty in the imagery, take for instance black & white photography, - also miss the mark more often than not... harboring a nostalgia of the actual work in the mines, as if there was something noble about it – rather than just being demoralizing hard graft.
Nowadays it is no longer a soot-black region, but multi-colourd plastic rubbish-like concoctions that might as well go straight to the bin. Originally quaint housing being torn down for 'modern' accommodation which is even more depressing than the original from the industrial revolution... the only thing to do is to shop; buy oodles of chap tat no-one needs just to get through the day. Add some flowerpots and a sig(h)n that denotes a 'village fleuri' and you got it in a nutshell.
So, in keeping with the subtitle “Donde VA” we proceeded from Valenciennes to Anvers, picking up a bag full of roadmaps at Péruwelz right on the border... in preparation of the first installment of the central maproom, with an added twist (suitcase full of archive) which we will divulge later.