New mats in Amelie. Made in Italy. Thats good. I am avoiding ‘Made in China’. Have been trying to avoid that for years, as I feel its tiresome that Europe has sucumbed after being pioneers of the Indiustrial Age, to have got so embedded in that country, its a disgrace.
Now people, supposedly in the know, twitter on that we must return to old values, home working, home crafting and a return to the countryside. Hey I prempted that back in 2001 when I threw my employment contract in the bin. I went home, retrained and alongside my tax work studied architecture, design and intelectual property. I started planning a future in a country where I could have land to be self sufficient. A place where i could run an online business long before Etsy and Not On The High Street thought of it. My tech friend and I had even started designing web pages when coding was new and Linux was feasible. We were ahead but hadnt the investment. But I still kept my skills going knowing things woukd change.
France had long been on my radar since before my teens. I started a scrapbook of French images and collected French stamps too. From the moment I studied Paris and the chateaux for my European Studies exams at fourteen I was totally smitten. French and European History were my chosen A Levels subjects and even now I have history books on my desk that I dip in and out of constantly. My honeymoon of course was in Paris and every two years we booked a gite and stayed in a different department, exploring the countryside villages, towns and markets and myself keeping a diary and illustrating along the way. When I divorced in 2012 and hit financial hard times, my new partner and I made the jump. Now with this virus an on-going problem, we made the right choice. Apart from limited French kissing, the isolation suits us as we are doing very much as we were before. Online business, online research and purchasing. With our own premises and properties, exploring home business ventures is easy now as it’s necessary. I just wish people hadn’t so blindly ditched ‘being at home’ or being a ‘housewife’ as being so negative and so ‘unfulfilling’. That’s rubbish. I have loved working from home, setting my hours, caring for my home and garden, cooking for my husband and washing his socks. I have sat for three hours everyday on the M25 commuting to an office. I have been crammed like a pilchard in a tin on the hot and stuffy London Underground. I have been made redundant. I have been sacked! I had my fill of being employed. Being independent was great. Ok money had to be saved, cared for as limited, and there were times I had to chase clients for payment when the economy wasn’t so good. Getting used to motivating for at least eight hours never became a tadk for me. I like quiet, detail, my own created deadlines. A lot of my clients made it through a year but without taking the cashflow seriously, too many lunches out, expenses going through the roof and distractions like networking meetings, all talk and promises with little substantive turnover, they went back to day jobs. Shame. But now with hindsite, it was the right choice for me. I am an old hand at working for myself, this new future will be ok.
So today I took Amelia my 2CV for a spin. She purred along nicely and life slowed. A few French in a rush, overtook, but today was a lazy day. A week of hard work starting the new coop building and more landscaping in the garden had left me exhausted. Today was a paperwork day in the factory; receipts to sort and archive and invoices to collate for insurance. I keep a folder of all the pieces of equipment and machinery bought or where materials were a significant cost. Old habits.
And Mr Happy is happy. I have had this little Mr Man since I was 7 years old. The series started in 1971. First he hung on my toy box, then sat on my desk as a mascot at school. When I married first time round, he hung from a wardrobe key like a tassle. Then he hung from my desk anglepoise lamp, jointly burning the midnight oil of long tax computations. But now he hangs in Amelie. It seemed a happy place to be after so long in service!
Mr Happy makes Amelie seem very young..she is a 1983 model. A 2CV 6 Special in my favorite colour – green. The weather was fantastic today for old engines…a slightly damp breeze but sunny. Steady 52kmph. The volt meter flicked on the green so no chance of breaking down. The road had only a slight incline, meaning I could stay in fourth gear for the journey. The opposite end of town has a hill climb. It leads to Lussat and my favorite Brocante. But it’s a second gear haul and I can’t buy anything to heavy. The owner has a big smile when she sees Amelie. English in an iconic French car. It’s a romantic trait we have. Our homes we decorate in French style. It’s not actually seen in many of the local homes we visit. In the English homes here it drips off every corner. We love our chalk paints, our toile ( although this originated in Ireland), our rusting garden tables and our furniture a little worse for wear. The rural has been dumped by many French. It’s a sad state of affairs here in very rural by rural standards, Limousin, that the young have thought working in gateau factories and living in a modern town of faceless peach cream stucco and Brico Depot brown shuttered houses, is preferable to character stone farmhouses, land and little or no mortgage. They like modern.
Back in Poland we couldn’t comprehend the desire to live in grey Communist blocks when just a stones throw away, pretty country cottages with verandas were a snip. Propaganda probably. The same that in the 1950’s persuaded my parents to move to surburbia and saddle themselves with loans in their ambitions to keep up with the Jones. It failed. They never had money. They argued. The economy changed and pensions changed. They were bitter. Communism gave people homes and jobs but little freedom to follow your own fate. In France self employment is unusual. Socialism is about masses together paying tax. Capitalist UK likes profit manipulated by tax accountants. But things will have to change as many still like a job and the Government needs income. It’s a balance. The government’s must combine the best of communism, socialism and capitalism. One doesn’t fit all.
I hope with this new wave of home crafting and working and social distancing, the rural will come back and industrialization might just be left to the machines. People will find independence, fulfillment in being in control and the money will go round. As long as we are mindful that control in the wrong hands jeopardizes all this ‘brave new world’, we might just find that this virus will be the revolution we needed to get ourselves back home.