Legends from our own lunchtimes

Sunday, June 11, 2017

On Becoming French - Friday June 2

It’s not uncommon in France to find ugly walls of buildings painted using a technique called “Trompe-l'œil”  literally “to deceive the eye”, giving the impression of sometimes quite elaborate form in what would otherwise be perfectly flat walls.

It was never going to be an uninteresting day.  If all went to plan Ray and Helen would arrive before lunch and take delivery of the hire boat they’d arranged through our friends at Navigfrance. We’d organise some provisions for us all for the coming week, Jacques would pop down from Lagarde and do the orientation and driving instruction thing with the boat, while Maggie would join us for a rather late dinner.

That’s exactly how it might have turned out too, if it wasn’t the busiest weekend on the boat hire calendar, which meant that things were a teensy bit squeezed at the Lagarde end of the plan.   The one of us who is bent on leaving the world in a cleaner tidier state than she found it in immediately volunteered us to prepare the boat for its new occupants.   The other who is not unfamiliar with the operation side of things assured the by now terribly embarrassed home team that the instruction process was also in safe hands and that really, all everyone had to do was to turn up for dinner.

Jacques was at first dismayed, then bemused, then completely without understanding as to how his friends had arranged a hire by their friends and had then taken over his business entirely.  He could be forgiven for wondering if he was caught in a Trompe-l'œil of his own.   Then he began to laugh.   “It’s not great when things are always perfectly organised” he said, and then with an enormous chuckle and wave of his arms, “this is great, this is truly French!”


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