During a phone conversation the other day, a friend from London asked me to describe a typical day in our lives in Nice. I honestly couldn’t think where to begin. I’ve begun to yearn for a typical day, one in which stressful things aren’t run of the mill.
We’ve had a little spate of irritations recently, mostly relating to bikes and apartments. Joel’s bike was stolen from outside the gym. As he was trudging home dejectedly, he saw it chained up with another bike outside a mosque (which, I should note for the sake of balance, is behind a Catholic church). He was so furious he removed the wheels and carried them home. We went in search of the frame the next day, but it was gone. Shortly afterwards, though, he found a bike at the end of our street, with two flat tires and no lock. No one in their right mind would leave a bike unlocked anywhere in Nice, especially not at night, so we could only assume it had been stolen in the first place and dumped… After keeping an eye on it for a while – finders keepers! However, someone vandalised the tires on that one, as well as on mine, as if to slap our wrists for not handing the found one in to the police. (The police would’ve thought Joel was deranged for doing that anyway.)
The bikes are very minor stresses compared to the ones relating to builders, lawyers and estate agents, but you don’t want to read about them any more than I want to write about them. One day it will all be over and all will be well, right? Right?
If there’s one thing that’s typical in our days, it’s buying and briefly discussing a baguette. In our Parc Chambrun neighbourhood, we have three really good boulangeries within a few minutes’ walk, plus a remarkable one (Le Fournil, on Avenue Borriglione) within a quick bike ride. The baguettes are fairly easily identifiable. The one from The Fat Lady is fluffier on the inside than the one from The Rude Girls, which is heavier than the one from The Almond Croissant Place. Those aren’t the real names of the shops, of course. Customers have their individual preferences – some people always ask for one that’s bien blanche, or nice and pale. Sometimes The Fat Lady tells me I’m getting the last baguette, apologetically, as if it’s the one nobody wanted. I quite like the doughiness at The Rude Girls, but we’ve avoided there for a bit because they’re, well, they’re rude. No chirpy Bonjour Madame there. We’ve had several discussions with people who live locally about the cost, size, colour, inner fluffiness and outer crackle of our neighbourhood baguettes.
Actually, the Rude Girls were probably only that way because they were about to lose their jobs: there was a big sign on the window yesterday saying that there had been a changement of proprietaire. I had to try the baguette, of course – I wanted to test Joel and see if he would notice it was new.
There’s a famous photograph of Picasso with some bread rolls on the table in front of him, as if they are hands. I love that photo – I first saw it years and years ago. The rolls are actually a kind of bread called main d’Antibes, or Antibes hands, because they look so fingery. The new shop had something similar, labelled main de Nice, Nice hands, although I think they could actually call their version doigts de saucisses, or sausage fingers. The girl seemed so very not rude that I bought two. She was even wearing a jester’s cap, for the opening of the shop I guess, to show the neighbourhood she was a jolly sort of person.
I guess another typical thing in our days is that Joel and I are very silly together and we make each other laugh a lot about nothing, like trying to reproduce famous photos, but I forgot to mention that on the phone.