Introducing...Miss Superfly, who has been left hanging (as it were) while we've been away for a few days on the Cote d'Azur, staying with friends near Antibes and then wandering around on the coast.
Miss Superfly arrived in the dusty Place d'Ormeau in Viens at 6.30 in the evening, an exotic creature in a kimono - which she rapidly shed to jazz music. She sang in English - in an authentic French rasp that convinced no one she was American, as the compere had claimed - and danced while trying on various hats designed to look like a fly's head. She smoked a cigarette as if she had stepped into a 1940s film and pretended - at least we hope she was pretending - to swig from a bottle of hard liquor.
There was a murderous rendition of God Bless the Child and then the main part of the act: she swung herself up onto a trapeze suspended some twelve feet above the ground, as lithe and supple as a child, though she was clearly rather more advanced in years.
As with all the best live performances, there was a thrill in knowing that things could go wrong. Along the way to the ascent there had been glitches and hiccups, and now the element of unpredictability was tangible. We strained forward in our seats as she swung ever higher and let herself fall, only to be caught my her ankles. The children were enraptured by one of the best aspects of France as far as they are concerned: the cavalier attitude to Health and Safety compared with their own cotton woolly country. "She hasn't got a safety harness. No net! It's fantastic!!"
The audience nodded and grimaced in appreciation, the older folks, especially the men, with the same dreamy expressions with which they greet the scantily-dressed dancing girls on stage at the village fetes. Young children were running around in front of the trapeze. Wine was drunk. It was one of those events, we agreed, that was exactly the kind of spectacle you would hope to find on a summer evening in the South of France. Curiously old-fashioned, with a hint of memorable magic.