Okay I admit it. I’m a townie (translation for Non-Newfies: a snobbish and self-important individual reputed to regard oneself as more cultured and sophisticated than anyone in the entire province of Newfoundland and Labrador who is not from St. John’s). And for the record just let me say that baymen (individuals not from St. John’s who are reputed to smell of fish and rely on all terrain vehicles for transportation) are the true heart and soul of the Rock, the salt of the earth, which I have to say for fear the Sullivan brothers from Dildo (yes that’s the real name of a real town) will show up on my doorstep ready to beat me to a bloody pulp, the townie vs bayman issue is not to be taken lightly.
Anyway, beyond a lesson in Newfie culture, the point is here I am, glamourous townie, installed in France’s version of ‘around the bay’ (any place in Newfoundland other than St. John’s). Now there’s no actual bay or fish and chips stand but I can’t understand a word people say and and there’s a big tractor garage as you come into town so it’s close. But I have to tell you being a townie offers little prestige here.
Honest to god you would not believe the people found here in this little ‘backwater’ of Semur en Auxois. Apart from our other worldly friends we’ve met American physicists/inventors who clearly have a few brain cells firing between them. Last week there were Danish filmmakers hanging about. There’s the Russian artist who left NYC to peacefully paint here in the Burgundy countryside, the high level luxury hotel executive based in Hong Kong, the cafè owners from Senegal. Sure we could have the Olympics here next week if we wanted to. I’d be heavily favoured for the gold in nagging and self-recrimination.
Last week we had drinks with two international journalists from Paris who have a weekend house here. She covers France for the US and he works in French news television after stints in Washington and Russia. We were chatting about the DSK case and it came out that he knows Christine LaGarde, the first female head on the IMF and rocking silver fox. We were talking about my endless French language difficulties when he mentioned that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was learning French and was doing well. How did he know this? Because he KNOWS Ban Ki-Moon. I thought about breaking out the story of how I once met Kathy Bates in a restaurant bathroom but I decided it was a tale for another time.
And to top it all off this week, no more than 5 doors down the hill from the housette, you’ll find an ultra right wing, wacky, misogynistic CNN/FOX news political pundit bastard freak guy. As you can see this peaceful life of French funemployment has rendered me serene and free from judgement of others. I haven’t met him yet but I’ve seen him a couple of times now through the scope of my rifle. Oh now I’m just kidding. It’s a water gun.
It’s exciting to be around this kind of energy and to have the rare opportunity to learn so much about the world. And here I thought I was coming to a place that might be too small town for someone as suave and cosmopolitan as myself. We townies talk a good game and while we think we’re big fish in a small sea the folks here are the ones casting their nets far and wide.
Bobbi French is a regular contributor to Gypsy Girls Guide