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ABOUT FIFTEEN years ago, in the days when I used to run a big choir rather than Les Jeudistes, the select group pictured above, we had a bass called Edmond. He was an elderly man of very definite and individual views who occasionally had to be shushed because of some outrageous politically incorrect statement with which the management, i.e. me, couldn't be seen to agree. He was a Protestant, which is quite rare in this part of the world, and used to play on it for all he was worth, because what he really loved was being in a vociferous minority, and knowing that no one would take him on because he had two very sharp arrows in his quiver. These were that he was really quite elderly and that he was a war hero, an honoured member of the French Resistance, and in France the fast dwindling members of the Resistance can get away with just about anything.

THERE WAS a lot of conspiratorial whispering, rustling and shuffling outside, people saying urgently, under their breaths 'You go first', 'No, you', 'Go on, we'll follow', 'You start, it was your idea', and so on. While all this was going on I was busy pouring champagne, noting that for nine people you have to break into a second bottle if everyone is to get a decent glassful, and if second helpings were required then we would need a third, and that no doubt Josephine had thought of this and that the fridge bottle rack was be groaning under the weight of enough bottles to satisfy the celebratory instincts of a small but very lively French choir.