August 30: Goodbye, little dump

The tiles on the studio's balcony floor

I had a really lovely evening a few days ago with Paula and Margaret, going for a swim at Villefranche about 7pm and then sitting on the beach till nine drinking rosé and eating peanuts. Paula, who has a flat in Antibes and comes occasionally, says things sound, from this blog, as if they’re all going well. I replied yes, but things have been hard, which I don’t usually mention, as no one wants to hear me whine… She said, oh, it’s good to have a whine now and then, so with that in mind, and knowing that this is the second to last day I’ll ever have to see this godforsaken little dump, please excuse and/or enjoy the following.

We’re grateful to Michele’s friend Henri, of course – he was the only landlord at the time who’d take the risk of letting people of no consequence stay in his flat. By no consequence I mean we didn’t have any of the documentation you need to exist here in France – previous rental agreements, years’ worth of salary cheques, phone bills, tax returns, etc etc. It’s impossible to rent here unless you do. We still don’t, mostly, but thanks to Joel’s chance encounter with Lisa, our new landlady (a real character), we can finally get out of this hole.

The studio is kind of sweet, in its way – like if you were only staying for the weekend, and it was free. It was even kind of a hoot for the first six weeks or so. But when it got hot, and we had to open the windows, oh dearie dearie me.

We discovered that every bit of silver lining had a black cloud. For example, there’s a dry cleaner right downstairs! How convenient! But the walls start to shudder and thump with their bloody great machines at 6.30am.

There’s a pizzeria just next door! Yum! Except that it’s a delivery service, so the pizza boys hang out on the street having loud, inane conversations outside our window until half past midnight. That’s when they’re not tearing off on their noisy motorbikes to deliver pizza. It does smell nice at 6pm or so, though, when they fire up the wood ovens for the night’s business.

It’s in a great location at the top of a hill! We can just bike right down to the sea. Yes, and everyone can climb up the hill on their motorbikes and in buses and trucks, making the most almighty racket which reverberates off the walls of the apartment buildings on both sides of the street. Poor Ted. He never did learn that those earsplitting vehicles wouldn’t actually come in through the window. He will now always jump at the sound of a revving engine.

There’s a pet shop just round the corner! How sweet! Except that it also does dog grooming, and its back door backs onto the courtyard, which means I can hear dogs yapping non-stop as they wait their turn. Ted wasn’t too thrilled about that either.

That virginia-creeper covered wall is so pretty to look at through the shutters! Ha. I barely opened the shutters because (1) I couldn’t bear to look at the roof of the dry cleaner’s extension in the courtyard, which is full of pigeon droppings from at least the 12th century, and (2) cigarette butts that the pigs from upstairs chuck out their window.

That wall also means the sounds of all the building’s inhabitants rebound right into our studio. I’m sick of the woman who cries out her window every night, the guy with Alzheimer’s who shouts and smashes things, the idiots who shout ‘Ta geuele‘ (shut up, but really rudely), at him, which stresses his wife; the numerous dogs and babies, and particularly the Italian couple who simply cannot stop talking loudly to each other for even 20 seconds… It feels like a 1950s tenement here.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. I feel better already! Look, here’s our new home! We actually slept there last night, though I couldn’t sleep because it was too quiet. It hurt my ears.

Thank god I had this view. It stopped me from going insane


About Suellen Grealy

In 2011, a series of coincidences led my husband Joel, our cat Ted and me away from London, where we lived quite happily for 30 years, to Nice, where Joel grew up. While he and his sister ran their restaurant, I wrote a novel. Family being family, Joel and his sister no longer work together. Writing being writing, the novel lingers on... Meanwhile, we've found ways of living a completely different life from the one we had in London, including running our own restaurant together, 7 Villermont. The only constants are our Ted, our now-battered Peugeot, and each other. Everything else is a complete surprise
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2 Responses to August 30: Goodbye, little dump

  1. Maryanne Rivera says:

    Good luck in your new home, Suellen and Joel!!! And Ted, of course!

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