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Golf and bandit country

May 13, 2012

Dinner was a splendid affair taken in bandit country in the valley just to the south of Bar Sur Loup, at the house owned by the only estate agent in Valbonne who insists on playing tennis in his Gucci loafers, Cubby Wolf from Riviera Realty.

When one ventures more than a handful of miles north of Valbonne one must not expect to find the kind of sophistication exhibited by, say, a Currencies Direct customer. One takes a social risk, a bit like going north of Birmingham in England. On the edge of civilisation one can never be certain about whether electricity will be readily available and so it came to pass. After nervously standing outside the electric gates to Cubby’s fortified domain which refused to work, keeping an eye out for hungry wildlife, the bush telegraph (OK my mobile phone) alerted Cubby to the plight of his guests marooned outside as the sun was setting and the unseen but clearly sensed local animal and bandit population was stirring. Eventually the gates were opened and sanctuary reached. That our host should be called Cubby Wolf is somehow apt for a man living in such majestic wilderness. Bear Grylls eat your heart out.

That an estate agent can afford to own Gucci loafers is an affront to anyone selling a house and paying the exorbitant french estate agents fees, (6% in case there are any English estate agents reading). Personally if I were ever to employ an estate agent in France I would want him to be driving a dented and ancient diesel golf with worn tyres, look down-trodden and not to own either Gucci loafers or a classic Jaguar, or for the matter to own a very pretty house with majestic views swooping over the Loup valley. What’s wrong with a dingy apartment? Actually, come to think of it he does look a bit down trodden but only in a warm and cuddly kind of way.

In something of a departure, that nice lady decorator scrubbed up nicely and chose a stunning and unique black and white striped outfit together with similarly distressing shoes. Unique that is until Helen, another guest at dinner arrived wearing an almost identical outfit. A sharp intake of collective breath was followed by a short silence. There was an air of tension and some circling which I thought could be heading for a metaphorical shoot out before the champagne, not before time, had its usual calming effect and potential enmity dissolved into friendship, with the codicil that the next time they meet they will discuss outfits before the event.

As the evening drew towards an end, the largish sailing contingent which comprised most of the dinner party who had been feasting, rather aptly, on swordfish,  sitting outside on a clear night on a wonderful terrace looking towards the mountain came over all sailorish, licking their fingers and holding them up to the wind and saying things like “we are for a bit of a blow” and “splice the main brace” seemingly oblivious to the reason they were swaying so much was due to the consumption of too much wine.

Grande Bastide golf course, scene of a robbery yesterday

Earlier in the day I had ventured out to play golf with the Landlubbers at the Grande Bastide pictured above where I was lightly roasted not only by the hot sun but by the handicap system which reduced mine from 14 to 11. The 10 euros I had won from the impossibly named Welshman Iuean Dady (or something similar) was snatched away by this reduction before I could stick it on my forehead. A robbery by any measure and another example of bandit country.

Chris France

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