Rozier’s Orleans Diary
Rozier’s Orleans Diary
At the café
They are to be found at the far right hand corner; perhaps two or three, perhaps seven or eight.
There is Eugene, very spry, served as a volunteer in the French war in Indochina. He likes women and they seem to like him. In ten seconds he can get any woman smiling. There is Yves, used to run a drapery shop, likes women too, but has slowed down since his last marriage. Spent three years in the Algerian war. There is Alain, a physics teacher, speaks a little English. Always looking for the perfect woman. He likes the English. There is André, was with a Tunisien colonial regiment in Indochina, likes his Masonic meetings, always at the theatre. But he has been missing for some weeks. Is he at his apartment in Arcachon? But he had to go to the clinique for a minor operation. It is a little worrying when friends don’t show up.
There is Michelle, who talks little and Nicole who says even less. Ah! but there is Jacqueline who with her sharp tongue makes up for both of them. Sadly Marguerite who has been part of the furniture for as long as I can remember can’t make it any more, and there is Daniel, Raymond, Jacques etc.
I am the only foreigner. They collectively don’t have enough English to read the first sentence of this article, so I will have to translate it for them.
Maybe one or two have a computer, none use e-mail, internet or blog. Most are retired, a few are waiting to retire. None are interested in making any more money. I, though, am still very active professionaly and want to make a lot more money. I am truly a foreigner. However we all get on very well together. Well, most of the time. Maybe I am some strange kind of foreign pet.
We have our favourite waitress. She is pretty and young and always smiles and makes us feel welcome when she shakes our hands. She is also Moroccain. She is a very good ambassadress for her country. Ah! but what is her country?
Today is the great day. The day when France collectively stops smoking at the working place. My café will still be full of smoke though. The law will not apply to cafés for another year. The psychological shock of taking away this last refuge where smokers, leaving their office, can seek drink, friends and tobacco, would have been too great a risk for any government in an election year.
In my mother’s old village of Milverton in Somerset, England, there wasn’t a single baker’s. In Taunton the county town, not too long ago, I tried to buy some rye bread. None. The English as a nation would appear to have the choice between, white or brown, sliced or unsliced, thick or thin. And they are the nation that gave to the world the sandwich.
I have five baker’s within walking distance of where I live. The best and my favourite is within a hundred yards, as all good bakers should be. The baker is French, his wife Russian, and there are three women who sell the bread. Two are French and one is Moroccain. They are all smiling and friendly. It is a real pleasure to go to the baker’s. The Moroccain is like the waitress in my café, very pretty, polite and speaks excellent French. Not surprisingly she is the only one who speaks a little English and uses the Internet, so does her husband, so I shall be very polite here.
The other day I had bought a baguette and on the way home it broke in two. It was very fresh, still warm, and half fell to the ground. I shall talk about French pavements another day. I went back to buy half a baguette but the shop refused to accept payment.
They also have I don’t know how many different kinds of bread, one dozen, two dozen? All shapes and sizes, all types of cereals. The only additive allowed is salt. English bread has about twenty two additives I believe. I like my baguette a lovely light golden brown on the outside and properly baked on the inside. I buy it in the morning to eat for breakfast and lunch and again in the evening for dinner. Fresh twice a day.
My friends in the café are always willing to talk about food, which ranks with the weather and health as main topics of conversation. I said I couldn’t understand my sister-in-law at all. She buys half a dozen industrial baguettes at the super market once a week and then puts them in the freezer at home. After all, one of the reasons for living in France is their bread which must rank above politics and on a par with women. I am trying to teach them British humour. It’s not easy in French and much gets lost in translation.
There is of course Harry’s bread in the supermarket for American visitors. That makes them smile.