Myself and some of the group were treated to a most interesting and enjoyable afternoon dans une salle de classe as we went back to school today having been invited to a Jacques Brel Masterclass by Valerie, who is Head of French at Torquay Boys Grammar School.
Brel, a Belgian singer-songwriter, dwelt fearlessly on love, death and desperate emotion in works that inspired countless artists, and spawned covers that only rarely matched his intensity.
Le Club were eager to find out more. Valerie is clearly passionate about his work, and delivers classes on his poetry as part of the International Baccalaureate.
Today's lesson, exclusively for our group, was to study 'Ne Me Quitte Pas', considered by some as "Brel's ultimate classic" and apparently written after Brel's mistress threw him out of her life. For many the depth of words and emotion was something we hadn't really explored before, and before long, we even found ourselves feeling an element of sentiment towards 'Homme a Femmes' (Ladies Man!) Brel, as we studied the five strophes of the poetry.
The class was punctuated with great humour and intellect by Valerie as she educated a room full of extremely attentive and co-operative élèves! We weren't even given any devoirs! ('Devoirs' is homework, don't you know!)
Over coffee and pastries afterwards, we further discussed the lesson, as well as chatting about our own connections with France and reasons for our interest in its language and culture. We also discovered it really was back to school for two of the group who had, infact, themsleves been teachers at the Grammar School at one time!
As the founder and manager of Le Club Franglais, I personally found it a fantastic experience to take some of my group to the language department, and to create this link and further mutual interest for our community. I know the school are always looking for language enthusiasts such as ourselves to volunteer from time to time too and we hope too strengthen this link. If you would like to get involved with Le Club, or the language department further, please contact me.
Finally, it just remains for me to say a big 'merci' to Valerie and the staff at TBGS. And to my wonderful club members - 'ne me quitte pas'!