September 17: another found object


The streets aren’t lined with gold here, but if you keep yours eyes open you can furnish a whole apartment. Joel was on his way back to the restaurant after his siesta two days ago when he saw a whole life being chucked out on the street for the garbagemen. There was a crowd, and he could see the good stuff was going, so he set off like Husain Bolt and grabbed Yen from behind the bar. They managed to get hold of a fabulous extending table, which I think might be made of rosewood, a great big wooden chest (it’ll need a paint job, but I’ve got my roller at the ready) and two wooden chairs. When the restaurant closed, we packed the chairs and table into the car, and I’m sitting at our new table right now, by the window. The chest, one of two which had been filled with books, was being emptied when Joel saw it. One of our customers is thrilled with what he thinks is a first-edition of a French author I’d never heard of. When I opened it there was nothing left but some coffee grouts, a decrepit sheaf of maps of France, and this photograph, taken on July 28, 1935. On the back it’s noted again in pencil, Dimanche 28 Juillet, 1935. Maybe these two ladies are on a Sunday outing, in their best frocks and hats. I won’t throw it away, because I can’t bear to think that what was once important enough to record carefully and keep safe for 76 years is just garbage. A memento mori.

The table in its new home by the window

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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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