After yesterday’s spectacular sunshine, I’m woken at 5.30 by a tropical rainstorm and what sounds like hailstones. I get up to look, but it’s only driving rain. Get back into bed thinking of all those people in Texas who don’t have that luxury.
Breakfast is a strange beast in public, particularly in France. You don’t get dressed up for breakfast as you would for dinner, you’re as near your normal self at home as it’s possible to be. And it’s fascinating.
There’s less hesitation in France about staring, so my entrance with stick causes a stir. A young girl stares inquisitively, which I don’t mind, her parents just stare and I smile and stare them out.
The telly is on low volume and an elderly couple are seated in front of it as though they’ve never seen one before. He dunks bread and croissant in his coffee, a normal habit in the country and at home. His wife is dressed to the nines, including stilettos and her hair is a weird magenta. She eats a piece of cake with a knife and fork. When I get up to get more coffee she stares and stares. For some reason I think of the tricoteuses at the guillotine, though she would probably have thought that not enough fun. When I turn back, she’s still staring so I give her the beady eye and we lock stares, which I don’t think she’s used to. My teaching experience holds me in good stead, I can do beady until the vaches come home.
She asks her husband to get her some more juice and he brings the jug to the table, long years of marriage have taught him that whatever quantity he pours will be wrong.
A couple at the next table start sneezing and coughing with no regard to the hygiene discoveries of the 20th century. My immune system can’t afford to be polite and I move tables.
A couple of middles aged gents come in. Yesterday I was having difficulty placing them. Golfers? English? French? I was too far away to hear them talking and they were quiet. English? Hungover? And then today one of them came in wearing sandals and socks. Definitely not French.
The elderly couple have finished breakfast and the husband takes one of the trays away. Wife begins to clean the table, as she would at home. I realise that she’s not used to hotel life and is terrified of getting it wrong, hence the knife and fork with the cake. As they pass my table, she tries a smile, but it’s like a hyena who has spotted a fresh carcass.