Cartes Postales de la Corniche – No.1by Bruce Abrahams
Brexit hit some of us pretty hard down at the Old Doom Bar. Our Aussie landlord and his wife returned to Oz and the mood wasn’t the same. No-one suggested it was because of differing ideas about Europe, but we knew it was.
But here in Brittany things are much cheerier. From our quarters in the Cafe des Matelots we can watch the ferries coming in and out of Roscoff with their cargoes of trucks and tourists. The French still seem glad to see us – even slightly warmer than usual if the amused, puzzled and slightly pitying look in their eyes is anything to judge by.
Maybe it’s France, probably it’s also the weather. Perhaps too, we have a camaraderie as expats. The exchange rates are pretty punitive, but those of us with long established Euro accounts and property can sustain some illusion of immunity. And one can live so much more simply and agreeably in France, we reassure each other. However arrived at, the social atmosphere is freer, more relaxed, more sexy. Yes, in that last regard, it’s definitely the weather. Dresses are light and floaty, bikini clad bottoms segue past with knowing insouciance and honed torsos draw appreciative – and not exclusively female – glances.
We Brits have always admired (and sneakingly envied) French style and elegance. French women especially seem to invest the feminine with real authority so saving it from the merely girlish. Everyone knows that French women are tough cookies. But it doesn’t stop them being as female as it suits them to be. How else do they get to quarrel publicly over a President – and in the present young lion’s case – own one twenty-five years younger? Part of the sympathy we feel they have for us just might be because they have M. and Mme Macron and we have Mrs and Mr May. Teresa’s legs are OK enough, but the shoes and trousers? Definitely a mistake.
Someone suggests that Anna Soubry might win the next Tory leadership on sex appeal. Nice girl, we think, but that’s not how it works over there in the UK. We still don’t like political women to be too well… sexy. Even Thatcher had to deepen her voice. They need, as the song has it, ‘to be more like a man’. Our female members slightly miffed by the chat about May’s legs remind us that we don’t have a Macron. Blair and Clegg – the last personable leaders, are in disgrace. Zac Goldsmith may be back in Richmond but he is thought of as a bit of chancer.
Be that as it may, arrived for the foreseeable future in a foreign port of an agreeably hospitable nation and surrounded by our fellow sailors of like mind, we can all voice the same opinion. Doesn’t this lovely weather make you feel sexy? We agreed it did, and fell into a reverie. Brown bodies, perspiration dewed loins and breasts, the slippery nature of flesh against flesh. Then the whole thing about shutters with their erotic suggestions of cool interiors and sprawled limbs.
Another ferry came in, another went out. Who cared. We were here for the duration. One of our group nudged her man’s leg with her foot. We all saw. We all laughed. It was time to go, back to the apartement, the hotel, the gite or the yacht. Those poor devils across the Channel faced endless months of dreary debate about their future. Tant pis.