Little Knife


The Aquitaine Knife Culture


There is a culture of the blade in medieval psyche of rural Aquitaine. Nearly ever male over 10 years of age packs a weapon; and a few younger. Groups of teenagers can be seen on Chateau Domain corners, whittling with their hardware.

Hordes of middle aged men dressed in jungle fatigues, porting large shot guns and pangas roam the fields at weekends like a local militia.

The venerable old men, the heads of families, eye each others vineyards suspiciously and with berets disguising their features slide into smoke filled relais and chasse dinners. There they will make the family’s decisions.

The confrontations here are settled here with knives. Who killed the biggest boar, who had the best venison, who can kill a chicken the fastest.

The arguments heat up and out come the knives, razor sharp and honed by daily practice. Some worn openly, others from cunningly concealed pockets, all wielded by deadly professionals. Big knives, small penknives even a few switch blades.

The air of confrontation rises and the knives will decide the issue.

The French Don, an octogenarian ex mayor, rises to his feet, unclasps his 6cm pen knife and plunges it into to cooked carcase of a sanglier (wild boar).  “It’s a bit tough” he opines. Others cut into the flesh “No it’s ok”. “The Parisian shot it, so it cannot be good” says another. A few dozen litres of rough red wine and the knives choose. It was the biggest boar shot for many years but it was a bit tough. The knives have decided.

So you see just like England Aquitaine has a “knife culture”. The problem with English politicians and knee jerk reactionaries is that they concentrate on the weapon not the culture.

(c) John Hulbert 2007

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