Friday, 19 May 2017

Falling in love all over again

Market day at the War Veterans residence

I fell in love yesterday. With Arthur.* And with Jean, Mabel, Audrey and George.

Arthur was buying clothes at the market stall next to mine. The jumpers, socks and casual shirts for seniors were laid out neatly on two trestle tables and there were a couple of clothes horses displaying long, printed flannelette nighties, loose-fitting jumpers and pants with elasticised waists on coat hangers. It was not obvious that there was a ladies' and a men's side, so when Arthur started looking through the women's pants selection, he was gently guided to the other rack by the lady in attendance.

At that point, I had to turn to my own affairs and did not see Arthur head off, but with both of us customer less, I started chatting to my market stall neighbour. I had observed her earlier, helping her elderly clients and I wanted to tell her how much I loved the way that she was interacting with them. At this point, Arthur returned. He was still an old man, but now he was an old man wearing jeans. They were slightly baggy, slightly long and were possibly not often teamed with a felt hat with finger-length dimple, soft scarf, v-necked jumper and jacket. But, boy did he look swell. The price tag was visible at his waist line, but oblivious to this, he handed his own pair of pants back to be put in a plastic bag and said that he would just keep on going wearing his new pants.

"They are really good quality. They will last you for, (nearly imperceptible pause), a long time."

I don't think Arthur heard. He had already moved on to my stall, where he asked about my book, said slowly and regretfully that perhaps he wouldn't buy it straight away, took one of my brochures, no doubt to not let me down, and, bypassing the hand-bag stall, moved on to the lady selling jars of jam. My heart followed him.

Jean bought one of my books, but not before she had told me several times that she had honeymooned in France, where she and her husband had hitch-hiked to get around, and checked several times that the book was mine; that I had actually written it. She eventually decided that even though her birthday was a long time off, she would treat herself. I don't know whether she will remember from one day to the next what the book is about, but sincerely hoped that each little chapter would take her back to that happy place and time when, just married, she was in France.

George and his wife also stopped for a long chat. He looked not a day older than 60, but confided in me that he had already celebrated his 80th birthday and that Audrey and he had been together for 45 years even though many had predicted that their 13-year age gap would be their undoing. There has been much ado recently about age gaps in relationships. I wouldn't have known, guessed or even given it any thought.

* - not real names

PS. I'm linking again with Phoebe at #allaboutfrance. If you have come across from Phoebe's blog, then welcome, and if you are curious about our story, click on this link to read 'But you are in France, Madame'. In advance, thanks for your comments and interest in my book.


22 comments:

  1. How kind your heart is, to take in so much that others cannot even see. I'm sure you are glad that you were there. Very nice display, by the way!

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    1. I loved it! Thank-you, for your heart-warming comment.

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    1. Thanks Darlene. The most wonderful thing since publishing, as you know, is that I get to share stories with lots of lovely people.

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  3. This charming story is touching on many levels. It is wonderful that these senior citizens have a local market with which they can identify. Old age can be incredibly isolating as well as challenging financially, physically and emotionally.
    I can't wait to read your book. We are currently renovating a petit medieval house in France to the north of yours. It has been fraught with difficulties, but we are persisting. For a few weeks each year we roll up our sleeves and chip away at its problems in hope that it may eventually be classified habitable - although I don't want to pay the associated taxes. Amicalement, Elizabeth

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    1. Lovely to hear from you, Elizabeth. This was my first time at the market and it was a special morning, but a bit challenging too for the reasons that you mention. I'd love to hear more about your renovations. Perhaps, I'll find the details on your blog? À bientôt, Catherine

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  4. That is so lovely. I'm glad you enjoyed a spot of people watching and I hope you sold some books too.

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    1. Thank-you, Jaqcui. I was really drawn to the residents, and, yes, they were very kind and bought some books. I did a talk and showed some of our beautiful French slides there earlier in the year. They invited me back to the market. Of course, I said that I would love to.

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  5. Catherie, What sweet observations. I love that you are selling your book in a farmer's market and the way you get to interact with people. Great idea. Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France and sorry it took me so long to respond. I'm on my way to Amazon now to buy a Kindle copy of your book. Look for a review, eventually.

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    1. Very kind of you, Paulita. I enjoyed travelling around with you (via your blog) on your French trip. Look forward to the next step.

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  6. Lovely anecdote - I think I'm in love with Arthur too! I can certainly visualise him from your description. Good luck with the book sales and with spreading the love of France. #AllAboutFrance

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    1. Hi Harriet, we must have been reading each other's blogs simultaneously! Touched that you feel the same way about Arthur! Thanks for your best wishes and good luck with your book sales too.

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  7. Bless them! #AllAboutFrance

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  8. What a lovely tale, and so beautifully and sympathetically observed. I love people watching and can just imagine sitting at your book stall and enjoying observing everyone. Great place to sell your books, I hope sales are going well and thanks for linking up to #AllAboutFrance

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    1. Thanks Phoebe. ill never be rich from this endeavour but its fun doing things differently for a bit. Thanks again for organising the French-themed link up at #allaboutfrance

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  9. I love markets and stalls where I can interact with other customers and stall holders. Such a more intimate way of shopping and you really brought your 'neighbours' to life through your writing. Lovely! #AllAboutFrance

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    1. Thanks Annette. I enjoy being on both sides of a market stall. Bonne journée et à bientôt!

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  10. I really enjoy how your voice comes through in your observations. Lovely post about real people just living and enjoying moments! #allaboutfrance

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    1. Thanks so much, Hilary. I sometimes need to remind myself that life is about these simple moments.

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  11. This was such a sweet read, you write in a very thoughtful way, paying attention to small details. This makes me very curious about your new book!

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    1. Thanks so much, Abigail. It seems that every second book that comes out these days is somebody's new version of 'A Year in Provence'! That said, this is our story and one that I am happy to have recorded for our children (and anybody else who is interested in family stories). A bientôt!

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