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Sounds about right

Sitting in his cramped office in the heart of the picturesque Dordogne village of Verteillac, Bruno Merlaud smiles. Behind him is a box of teabags featuring a union flag and the words Keep Calm and Carry On. “Keep this under your hat. I would say that one in 10 Britons are twits. That compares with nine out of 10 French. Now there are fewer of you, it makes me sad. They are a clientele I appreciate enormously,” he says.

Tho’ we might refine that a little to equality in twittery, it’s that Brits tend – tend – not to act out quite so much. A British twit might well mutter to the wife “You’ve no idea what that Mayor’s up to now Luv” while an F would have an ear splitting meltdown in the street.

Not that I’m being culturalist, or Johnny Foreignerist, in the slightest of course.

6 thoughts on “Sounds about right”

  1. It’s a bit more nuanced than that. Living/working in that neck of the woods some decades ago, the British expat community was a depressing crowd of people who were always moaning about the French without ever engaging with them.

    On the other hand they bought and did up property that would otherwise have crumbled into rubble and local primary school heads wrote me coaxing letters in anglais to get the Meissen calves onto their dwindling school rolls.

    It’s also worth mentioning that there were no incidents I can recall of the English going on rampages since the Black Prince’s chevauchée in 1356.

  2. @TMB
    Universally, unrequited Remain who would see the little of Brexit that has been achieved reversed? Achingly Green despite burning several tons of oak a year heating their draughty houses? A two day old copy of the Guardian on every living room table?
    they bought and did up property that would otherwise have crumbled into rubble
    To the amusement of the locals as they toddle to the bank with their fortuitous swag.
    Unwanted buildings crumbling to rubble is a perfectly normal process in almost every European country bar the UK. These places were built from stone from the fields & timber from the woods. In many cases, just branches with the bark still on. They served a purpose & that purpose has now gone.

  3. These people are the people responsible for turning the UK into the shithole it has become. And having done so, they flee to rural France prepared to do the same to another country.

  4. BiS These people are the people responsible for turning the UK into the shithole it has become. And having done so, they flee to rural France prepared to do the same to another country.

    You may have missed the “decades ago”? Brexit wasn’t even a glimmer on the horizon and the UK wasn’t in a dreadful state. The expats in question had retired to SW France on the basis that the weather is nice (it is in summer when they “discovered” it; it’s less so between Nov and Feb), that their £££ would buy nicer property than they had in the UK, property that formerly served a different purpose but which has been modified to suit the incomers.

    Brexit has obviously been bad news for these expats and also for businesses that benefitted from their custom, including those French now toddling to the bank with less swag.

    Your ceaseless urge to give the benefit of your valuable insights sometimes overtakes your ability to grasp another’s point.

  5. @TMB
    I’m not reporting from decades ago. I’m describing the sort of people I was meeting before I moved on to Spain. I spent 18 months in SW France travelling around helping Brits renovate properties they’d bought.* Usefully, because I actually knew what I was doing. I even bought a place in Brittany off a Brit couple who had tried & gone broke in the process of failing. Sold it a while back at a resounding profit.
    Sure, there were still some of the people you described about. But the years have taken their toll. A lot of those houses are now in the hands of their children.
    Most of the people I met were secondhomers or living in France but drawing their income from the UK. Guy I remember in the Tarn et Garonne was typical of what I described. Can’t remember exactly what he did but it was distance contract work for UK commissioners. House was typical for the area. Two storey stone. Originally the ground floor “cave” would have been stabling for the livestock & the roofspace storage for hay. Family lived between the two, benefiting from the warmth of the animals & the insulation of the hay. You’re right about the climate. I arrived in early May & bloody freezing overnight. Especially in a house who’s only heating was a woodstove in the living room. When I left he had a staircase to the roofspace the architect had said was impossible to build & it floored out ready to be a couple of extra bedrooms & a bathroom. Electrics & piping runs in & ready to be connected. From there, he should have been able to complete it himself. But whether he ever did? He hadn’t when I dropped by a couple of years later. Can’t say he was much help when I was doing it either. All talk but little action. Was the project worth doing in the first place? Hardly. If it had have been, the French would have done it themselves. Like I’ve said before. All structures are built envisaging a design life of around 40 years. This one was. Thrown together out of what local materials were available for a particular purpose at the time, with the least effort possible. What would be required to turn it it into somewhere you could live year round to modern standards wouldn’t justify the result. Just looks nice in photos.
    Most of the places I worked on were the same. And so were the people. Nice enough in their own way but not reality connected to reality. Why they’ve turned their own country into a shit hole.

    *For free as well! Just bed & board & the gas required to get there. Did it for fun & a chance to wander around France for a bit.

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