In Lanvollon it was market day and we felt compelled to go and spend the last
of our French francs. As usual, the adults were feeling a little fragile from
the night before courtesy of something even cheaper than Père Benoit from the
EU wine lake, and the symptoms were not softened by the audio nightmare that
bellowed through the humid air from the market public address system.
Something along the lines of: "un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, blah-blah, blah
de blah". Maybe it had been a French version of Tony Robinson's "two, four,
six, eight, motorway". No-one knew, no-one cared but what a din; sound
pollution of the worst order.
Notwithstanding this distraction, we set about our task with fortitude. Henri
was looking for a carborundum stone for his assortment of daggers and
lock-knives, I was after the quintessentially French cutting implement: an
Opinel folding knife. I let market forces prevail and sought the best terms
before accepting £10 for a number 12 Opinel - the second largest of the
range, the largest is a fourteen, superstitiously there appears to be no
number 13. I also managed to get a sharpening stone thrown in for seven
francs. Henri was disappointed when I told him this because he had paid 20
francs for his grindstone. The boy looked downcast. Perhaps he should erase
the experience and follow the motto "non illegitimi carborundum".
The problems of shopping as a group are understandably numerous, but it was
soon apparent that Gavin had gone off somewhere. So after sitting patiently
in the road with our shopping, we decided to install ourselves in the nearest
café bar where I had imprudently offered to buy everyone a drink. This act of
generosity, like a rush of blood to the head, was induced by reading in a
three days-old copy of the Daily Express that my shares had rocketed to new
highs in my absence.
Having been seated drinks were ordered but Isabel struggled to decide which
flavour syrop she wanted from the many available a problem compounded by the
language barrier. The barmaid showed growing signs of impatience.