Yesterday our French neighbour came by holding a piece of paper with his number on it. He told us he was off to visit family for a week, so, being British we assumed the number was to phone him in case of burglary or fire or some other terrible incident.
No, no. As he handed us the piece of paper he said, “If you need help, with French, speaking French, anyzing like zat.” Not for his benefit, but for ours. So that we knew if we found ourselves embroiled in some French slanging match we could find out why! How lovely. How refreshing for someone to offer some part of themselves just because.
We had actually already bought him and his daughter some little presents as their barn is home to our trailer year round, but on handing them to him he touched his heart. He was honestly moved, telling us it wasn’t necessary, that it was just normal to look after your neighbours, to help each other out, there was no need for thank you presents. Of course we still foisted the prezzies upon him, but to have someone so touched by something so simple is quite moving.
He soon realised his present was a, poorly disguised, bottle of whiskey, and invited us round for aperitifs when he returns next week. How lovely is that? A complete lack of selfishness. A completely different culture.
Now I know that there are those in the UK who live in the back of beyond (or maybe even the front of beyond) who still have that community spirit. But here, it seems natural. It’s just how it is. And I love that.
*Raises glass* to the French way of life!