France, nous arrivons!

We’ve finally got our timetable together. Steve has quit his job. 10 years working for the council – it’s a bit like that Deacon Blue song, except not quite so negative. He gets to hand in his resignation today, and I think it feels like a ‘get out of jail free’ card – the end is nigh. I felt the same when I handed in my last resignation, with nowhere to go, no prospects, no hope, no planned future. It was a little weird. Of course, mine wasn’t in the same circumstances, but it felt liberating all the same, if completely and utterly terrifying!

I’d made a very beautiful, colour-coded timetable/calendar on Word, documenting our every move. I’ve started booking tickets, so I’ve hyperlinked all the reference documents in, put down key dates, started adding times and so on. It’s an OCD nightmare/heaven. Only Steve’s decided it works better in Excel, and has spent the last two nights working through it, counting up his days ‘en France’ until we’re over there permanently, all together, on the 18th August. He’s got 43 days down, 20 or so, ‘seul’. I don’t know what he’ll do with himself. I’ve suggested he takes his night fishing equipment, since he won’t have me, the dog or the boy to ‘entertain’ him of an evening, but I somehow suspect he’ll get lots of pleasure out of it. It’s a good thing, too, so he can get to know the area. I’ve been lots of times, know it more than he does, and to some extent, since I’m the one who’s seen it properly, it’s ‘my’ house – so I think it will give him ownership of it. I’m kind of hoping he eases into ‘bar’ life, going for ‘un cafe’ and meeting with the sage old men of the area, but I doubt it. I’m not entirely sure the bar, ‘Celtix’, actually opens. I’ve never seen it open, let alone seen people in it. I’m not sure where the local congregation meet, watering-hole-wise. I was looking on the town hall website yesterday, and it says, as of 2004, there were 499 people in the commune. That’s so lovely. Imagine having 499 people to be responsible for. Every single school I’ve worked in has been bigger than that, by far. It’s like the first year and second year of most schools. That’s bizarre. I can imagine knowing who lives everywhere. I plan on becoming the village Mary Poppins, bringing light and love and laughter whereever I go, making teacakes in the afternoon for anyone dropping in, taking cassoulet round to the elderly/infirm in bad weather, sorting out problems. I know it won’t be like that, but I can dream.

I packed all my lovely floaty skirts yesterday. They’re the kind that look good with wellies, in a ‘country chic’ type of way. I see myself, a hue of yellows and oranges, floating from house to house like some kind of social butterfly. I know I won’t speak to anyone for weeks, really, and I’ll be living in jeans. But, like I said, I can dream.

Steve’s pretty much looking forward to the fact that no-one will visit and he’ll be all on his own, allowed to do as he pleases. I think his day will pretty much go like this:

8:00 get a pot of coffee on. Take the dog for a walk.

9:00 drink coffee, go to grange to do some general woodwork/metalwork

11:00 eat a couple of croissants and have some more coffee

12:00 do some light gardening

13:00 eat a hearty broth and some home-made bread

14:00 nap

16:00 pick the boy up from school

16:30 take the dog out again for a walk/do some light fishing/wandering/cycling

18:00 eat a hearty ‘plot-to-plate’ supper, light the fire, snooze with the dog (whilst watching Cop Wars, Road Wars etc)

23:00 to bed.

We’re 38 and he’s heading for retirement behaviour!

I’m having a panic about work. Like work in England, it is littered with acronyms like URSSAF and CAF and RMI and weird concepts like being an author means being in a different tax bracket than a tutor/commercial writer, and trying to get to the bottom of how much tax to pay, and to whom, since some of my income will still be British income, and all kinds of unknowns like chambres of commerce and CIPAV and so on. It’s all vaguely reminiscent of England, but in complex ways. I’m hoping I find as good an accountant out there as I have over here. I love my accountant. He makes me happy in that he just takes over, sorts it out and usually finds me some kind of rebate at the end of it all. I know it’s all above board and sharp and so on, with him doing it. I need the same in France!

Sometimes, I think my French is good, and then I resort to ‘what???!’ when I realise how complicated it all looks and when I think of the ways those rude women in the council offices speak to less competant English speakers in England, how they speak slow and louder and louder, getting more and more irate, simply repeating the same thing over and over. Will the same happen to me??! I hope not! I’ll be standing in the chambre of commerce, desperately trying to start up a semblance of a business, and they’ll be yelling at me in complex bureaucratic language, and I’ll probably just cry and remember the north with a sadness.

Anyway, we’re on countdown. It’s 8 weeks and counting. I have a diary. I have dates. I’m organised beyond belief. I’m good at this.

No matter how much I tell myself this, I am still in a panic. Yikes.

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