Sue Limb: Pardon my French

A young David Ginola offers to dry Sue off

A young David Ginola offers to dry Sue off - Credit: Archant

Monthly musings of the naughtily nice kind

What are you giving up for Lent? I’m giving up googling houses in France. Whoops! I googled another one just then, but it was by accident, honestly, Guv. I logged off the minute I saw that saucy cottage in the Cevennes peeping seductively at me from beneath its blue shutters.  

Why these pipe dreams about La Belle France? After all, I’m lucky enough to live in the most beautiful corner of the Gloucestershire rainforest. Maybe it’s cabin fever caused by lockdown. Maybe it’s a desire to escape post-Brexit Britain with its fear and loathing of foreigners. I love foreigners. I love foreigners so much I want to be a foreigner myself. 

Maybe I’m tempted by the amazing bargains to be had. For the price of a garage in St Ives (£100K) you can buy a splendid five-bedroom country house with a hectare of land in Poitou. Mind you, it might come with that French wallpaper so noisy, so migraine-inducing, you’d have to move in with your eyes shut. The French even wallpaper their ceilings sometimes, bless them, the weirdos. But I’d get a muscular young French artisan, looking a bit like David Ginola, to come in and paint everything white.  

I’m not afraid if the place needs ‘refreshing’. But I can’t face a renovation project. I wish I was renovated. Maybe this feverish googling is some kind of atavistic instinct to find a crone-friendly place to spend my declining years. They’ve been declining for some time. Gone are the days when I would sprint upstairs two at a time, sipping a cup of coffee and carrying a chest of drawers. I can cope with a staircase or two, but please, let it have a handrail for me to cling to. The French are so louche and careless about staircases. Sometimes they’re just a few planks thrown together, with no bannisters, open to a howling abyss, like something in a bad dream. 

If I was on A Place in the Sun, when the gorgeous pouting presenter in her tropical print romper suit asked me what was on my wish list, I’d have to be grindingly dull and say I want to walk to the shops. For the past 30 years I’ve had to get in the car and drive two miles just to reach the furthest outposts of civilisation. I’ve been off-piste for decades, and I’m beginning to be piste-off. 

Not that I enjoy shopping. I used to, in my youth. Often, I’d sally forth in search of a pair of purple diamante-encrusted killer heels. Now I limp out in my orthopaedic lace-up boots in search of a crust. Ideally towards a boulangerie. That French bread! Those sumptuous croissants! Not the pale, limp British travesty of a croissant we have to put up with over here. 

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Another thing on my wish list: a proper bathtub. How I hate showers. The French are obsessed by them. Why would anyone want to stand shivering and naked outside a glass box, waiting for the temperature of cascading water to become bearable? The joy of easing yourself into a steaming tub is, by comparison, one of life’s most enduring pleasures. In fact, on really cold days, I keep my T-shirt and jumper on while I step into the bath, discarding it at the last minute like a toad shedding its skin. As you age, of course, getting out of the bath becomes a bit of a challenge, but David Ginola will heave me out and pat me dry. 

Actually, no, sod it, I think I’ll give up chocolate for Lent instead.

Follow Sue on Twitter: @sue_limb