Whenever you read books about living in France they are chocker block full of characters, and you get the impression the country is overwhelmed with these terribly interesting ordinary folk. Especially builders, but that may be because British writers often have so much to do with them.
Well, I built a house and didn't come across a single French 'character' so let me dispel that myth to start with.
Next, I live in a village of around 5000 odd inhabitants. Do I bump into characters hither and thither? Nope. Everyone seems rather normal. There's one guy who lives nextdoor-but-one who is retired and moved down from Paris, and seems a pretty jolly sort of chap. He came to my party and told me that it's a lot friendlier down here and his social life is much better than where he lived in Paris. He's a nice guy, but I would hesitate to add him to the 'character' pool.
Outside the village, my flea market lady, Pierrette, is something of a character. She wears outlandish clothes to the 'puces' and enjoys scurrilous gossip, especially about men. She calls me up three times a year or so to let me know she has a pile of clothes for me. I go along and have a lovely time choosing from clothes that are all in my size and mostly my style. She's good at encouraging me to choose outside my style too, with some really cool results.
Maybe I've been here too long to see extraordinariness in the people around me, or maybe I live in a place with remarkably normal people. Still, I feel a bit miffed that my entourage is so lacking in ye olde Frenchie 'characters' because they provide endless entertainment and copy.
I'll have to write about the cat instead.
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