The strangest of people wash up here

Wednesday 22nd August

There are three pubs in the square; Café de Paris, Le Pub (Gambetta) and Tortoni, and you can guarantee that whenever you sit down you will hear English voices.  And pretty soon you are into conversation and you hear why they came out here and what they are doing.  Last night was a rather rotund fifty year old who was brewing beer here, though he looked as if he might be consuming more than he sold.  He explained to us the processes to make his ‘Traditional Ale’, and the difficulties of storing and cooling it.  He seemed to only have one regular customer, the bar we were sitting in, and I hardly think he would have made enough money to keep going.  A few days ago we met Julian, who used to have a shop, still does – but it isn’t trading, selling stone floor tiles and luxury wood floors, until he realised the town was too small for both him and his in-laws who sell the same stuff along with Farrow and Ball paint (again one wonders how much of it they can possibly sell).  Julian has now invested in a nineteen fifties authentic Citroen van from which he is selling very expensive Italian ice cream and coffee.  Two days ago we met the owner of a ‘Brocage’ shop – Bric-a-brac to you and me.  Her shop was full of very distressed pieces of furniture that you might find on a skip selling for prices that would make you wince, and very few customers too.  There is also the English Barber, who has a very nice barber’s chair and beautifully tiled barbers shop – he spends all day leaning on the wall outside his shop looking at his i-pad – customers he seems to have none.  We met a very interesting Welsh man who used to be a teacher and was made redundant and came out and bought a farm and has now sold that and just seems to exist somehow.  There are those who play guitar in a retro band, there are those who buy and sell on the internet, there are those who have market stalls and sell jewelry or home-made pies and jam, and there are lots who do nothing.  But you can find them all of a warm evening over a glass of beer or wine at one of the three English pubs in town.