A TIME AND A PLACE

The subject of clothing has been bothering me lately. As you know, I live in a very small community in rural France but have been noticing some rather bizarre attitudes to the expression “appropriately dressed”. This is me appropriately dressed for going out on my motorbike – yes the helmet is worn too!

On any beach over here it is perfectly acceptable to go topless and I’ve had some really interesting conversations with completely naked people on naturist beaches (my excuse is that they are usually the only ones where dogs are allowed in the summer…and I’m sticking to that story) because people seem to lose their inhibitions with their clothing.

The local boulangerie sends a van around four times a week which is a real blessing because otherwise we have to drive the 3kms up to town just for a baguette which is neither eco-nomical nor eco-friendly. The Bread Lady comes at about 8.30, honking her horn madly and stopping in various places in the village. We all pile out in our nightwear. Interestingly, most of us seem to have the same dressing gowns that were a free gift from Yves Rocher Beauty catalogue a couple of years ago. So we look like we come from an institution, some in pink, some in turquoise but all in the cosy fleece uniform of the morning croissant-hunters.

I’ve even been accused of being “over-dressed” or “on the pull” because I was riding my bicycle through the village wearing a pretty top. No make-up, old jeans, just a nice T-shirt. I don’t know how I’m supposed to dress but before you offer me it, shell-suits are not even up for consideration.

Our local builder arrived this morning to start work from our enclosed courtyard at the back on a neighbour’s wall, which had all been agreed but we had no idea when he would do it. So I find myself getting dressed in my corner of the living room (my study) with a male face looking dreadfully shocked through the window that is normally as private as you like. Large lady grabs clothes and beats a hasty retreat to the bathroom to emerge dressed as if nothing has happened. The ludicrous thing is that under different circumstances, our builder and I could have met on a beach without a stitch on and neither of us would have turned a hair (anywhere)

So I suppose it really does come down to time and place (but I’m still not wearing a shell-suit)


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