In one of his recent TV documentaries, François Skyvington found himself in the middle of a wonderful world of colors in the Midi-Pyrénées region of south-west France. To start the ball rolling, he visited an amazing old laboratory that has preserved the ancient and secret know-how involved in using a local plant as a source of blue dye.
Wearing his trademark orange scarf, François gazed with fascination at the mysterious blue broth that was cooking in the cauldron.
Then a bee started to buzz in his bonnet. François wondered how his orange scarf might react to the Pyrenean blue dyestuff. No sooner said than done. He took of his keffiyeh and threw it into the vat.
I have the impression that François may have wondered, at that moment, whether he might have just made a foolish decision. As they say in the classics, curiosity can kill a cat. Maybe curiosity can destroy a keffiyeh, too…
At first, it looked as if no harm had been done.
But a minute later, the outcome was quite different. A change in color was taking place in real time before the startled eyes of my son.
Now attired in a blue scarf, François asked the lady if he might be able to put his moped in the vat of dye, so that its color would match the keffiyeh. But they all agreed that this might not be a good idea. So, François bid farewell to his newly-discovered blue world.
Happily, in the next scene, through the magic of movie-making, François had retrieved his original orange keffiyeh. Besides, he seemed to be moving around still on the same archaic moped. But can we be sure? Be that as it may, we then find our golden-helmeted hero wandering around in a field of sunflowers.
Next thing, he’s sipping a glass of freshly-pressed sunflower oil as if it were a delicious nectar… which, apparently, it is.
Things then get serious, as the dominant color changes from orange to red: of the kind that is supposed to infuriate bulls.
The local fellows told François that bulls see reds and oranges as if they were 50 shades of grey. But that seems hard to believe. They also explained that, if you happen to be confronted by a furious bull, the best thing is to simply jump out of the way.
And François was promptly invited to take part in a 5-minute crash course on how to become a torero.
Courageous or foolhardy, he was prepared to prove that he had learnt his lessons well. That’s to say, sufficiently well to survive.
Apparently he didn't feel at all comfortable while awaiting the bull's charge. Olé!
As I’ve often said, riding around France on a two-wheeled vehicle such as a moped can be a dangerous business…