Today is a big event in St Romain en Charroux – the annual brocante, street or flea market. This normally sleepy little village bursts into noisy activity on just the one day of the year, when the street is full of colour, people, treasure and, frankly, junk. Interesting junk, though, and while we are trying to divest ourselves of clutter in preparation for moving once the house is sold, we still nevertheless find ourselves drawn magnetically from stall to stall and seldom leave without something we didn’t need but couldn’t resist.
I bought a large circular twirly iron thing that hangs on the wall and contains a dozen glasses for holding tea lights. It may give a romantic atmosphere to the dining room or may just catch dead flies.
TOH found two cushion covers featuring dogs – one ski-ing and the other dressed to aviate.
Our working guest, Tall Paul, was delighted to find some English classics written in French, and between us we spent next to nothing, but I took quite a few photos.
Later, when I downloaded the photos, I looked at one of a pair of portraits and could have kicked myself for not buying them. They are the kind of thing you can look at and wonder about for hours. Who were these people? What were their names? Where did they live? What did they do?
“Damn,” said I to TOH.” I should have bought those.”
“Come on,” replied he, “let’s go and see if they’re still there.”.
So back we went.”Whereabouts were they?” asked he.
“No idea,” responded I.
And so we marched up and down, carefully avoiding the eyes of stall-holders hoping for a sale, peering around in search of the portraits. We asked other people if they’d seen them. No, shrugged they.
By happy chance I had grabbed my camera again, and inspiration struck! Scrolling back through this morning’s photos, I was able to locate the stall where I’d seen the photos. And they were still there!
How much were they? asked we.
€20 each, replied she who was selling them. But we could have both for €30.
We had only €21 euros with us. €25, suggested she .
We turned our pockets inside out, I burrowed in my bra where I usually keep notes for safe keeping, but could only find a small piece of lettuce from lunch.
Reluctantly, but graciously, she sold us the pair, leaving us both feeling grateful but rather mean. The photos and the frames – 50 x 40 cms, so quite large – are in pristine condition. Back at the car, rummaging around in the ash tray turned up a few more euros and a plastic bag of small change, which we took back to her.
She was so thrilled that she flung her arms around me and gave me a kiss. Her genuine, absolute delight was worth those few coins.
And here they are, her great grand-parents, who will be a constant source of mystery and speculation. If they only knew!