Cardboard boxes, churches and constitutional crises

Well, after an eventful and somewhat stressful couple of days where it seemed as if the sale was off, it looks as though we have sold our house and, as such, made another giant leap towards moving in October.

We will miss this view and this walk when we move, but there are others where we’re going

The slight caution is that French contracts include a clause that allows a party to withdraw within ten days so we still have a few days before we are safe. But we are reasonably confident that this should all go ahead now. The only remaining major issue is that we need a fair amount of euros in mid-October and now is not the time to transfer money from UK. But when? Anyway, we have started packing up and the house is filling up with boxes. We have calculated that we have around 25 m of books so packing them is going to be a challenge. 

We are also planning our move which is complicated for two reasons. The first that we need to synchronise the final sale of our own house with the final purchase of the new house: complicated because the relevant notaires are in fact an hour’s drive away.  The second is that our nice new house in Lorgues is down a narrow road which is probably going to be a little bit difficult for any UK sized removal juggernaut: so we will have to use smaller vehicles. (Actually, given the narrowness of most French village streets the tendency here is to use multiple vans.)

Not a lot of turning space, but perfectly possible for smaller trucks

We have we think mentioned here that there is a small Anglican fellowship in Lorgues. It meets every two weeks and at the moment has been gathering in a rather superior garden. Chris was there on Sunday preaching and we had around 30 people. At the moment we are juggling with ways of helping out here as well as continuing our deep commitment to Cannes. Watch this space!

Above, before the service and below, the bring-and-share lunch

Finally, and reluctantly, we do have to make a few observations on the appalling mess of British politics at the moment.  Obviously as British citizens living in the European Union we are very much on the front line whichever the hard, soft or (please) no-Brexit options transpire. One gathers that if you are a UK resident, you might not be aware of the plight of Britons in Europe as, with a few noble exceptions, there seems to be not the slightest interest in our fate in Westminster. Well it’s stressing!

The reaction here among ‘the French’ is striking. Given the long history of instability here, many French people – perhaps most – have held an enormous, if slightly grudging, respect for the stable British political system on the other side of the Channel. The shock now at the disarray in Westminster is almost palpable. It is as if elderly aunt of impeccable character had suddenly gone on a foul-mouthed, knife-wielding rampage in a tea shop. That Britain should have a Prime Minister someone who is manifestly devoid of virtues and full of vices that he unashamedly revels in has astonished people.  That, in the last few days, he should manage to suppress ‘the mother of Parliaments’ is seen as utterly beyond belief.

You can’t quite see our new house, but here’s the view from further up the hill

Deeper thinkers here, puzzle – as they ought – at the failure of the monarch (that long claimed bulwark against tyranny) to act and the total absence of a written constitution. This latter raises a very significant point. One result of Britain’s long and deep-rooted Anglican Protestantism was the emergence of a universally agreed code of behaviour which meant that some things were completely off-limits; decency was the norm and everybody could be expected to ‘behave like gentlemen’. It was long prophesied from pulpits that the erosion of the Christian faith in the public and political world would remove any such constraints and so, sadly, it seems to be. In the absence of an unwritten code, it’s definitely time to get a written constitution formulated for the future. Unfortunately, it may well be too late. Those setting out on the long road to unrestrained power are not likely to welcome anything that challenges their authority. Here too there is a continental perspective: people over here remember figures that we have never had: Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and France’s own Pétain and they worry for Britain. As well they might.

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