May 1968: I was taken on as a classroom assistant in Foix and things really buzzed with the pupils.
June 1970: I was fired from the job for being “too close to the pupils,“ they said.
Autumn: I didn’t much fancy studying to be a teacher. Then there was this beautiful girl who lived in a community above Foix who really was something. I asked myself, “Do I, don’t I?” In the end I took the leap. The girl, the goats, the vegetable plot, living the unconventional and anarchic life!
1972: A population explosion in the commune!
Massat in 1972 was like the Wild West of the 1840s, but simpler: lots of houses, a few villages in a reasonable state of repair – all empty though, or almost – but the most accessible ones had been taken as second homes.
The locals spoke in dialect (Occitan) and in French, were pretty okay and welcoming, especially those living higher up (they saw us as Indians, but what the hell). In 1972 there were not too many of us, the péluts (10 in the whole canton, 100 in the Couserans). We lived up to our name – the long-haired ones – but slowly, as the years passed, the locals saw us as hippies, marginals, and in the end, neo-rurals (naturally!).
Me, I’m an ‘archeo-neo’! Did some things well (with or without others), other things not so well, and then there were kids, the vegetable plots, making firewood, the debates. Didn’t burn wads of bank notes like the Barcelona anarchists in the 1930s, though (“nothing good comes of these ****** bank notes,” they said).
But I didn’t have wads of bank notes! Instead harvested hay and went grape-picking, collected apples and blueberries, dug up potatoes, mucked out silage and other accumulated idiosyncrasies, herded livestock, had a few more kids, and then sat on the local council (with a play on words here by René de Jacques for the French word for "municipal) so that now I’m retired, I have finished my house, I look after my kids and grand children from time to time, and I travel around my house and around the world waiting for the ultimate answer.