Week 25: ‘We live here’
I work with a number of authors repeatedly. We get used to one another, I suppose. The latest offering from one such regular, something of a television celebrity, is about to reach me. The first book of his I worked on, many years ago now, was the accompaniment to a TV series about France. The thing I remember most about that – it struck me at the time and I’ve never forgotten it – was the annoyance the crew expressed about the British ex-pats in France. The ‘we live heres’ they came to refer to them, disparagingly. Their constant assertion of their status was felt to be arrogant, I think. Certainly not good telly.
Now I’m one of them and I can see things differently. The assertion of ‘we live here’ comes more from a position of disbelief, shock almost, than arrogance. It is enormously different to live elsewhere, as opposed to having a holiday home or visiting a place. It is worth asserting. If only to remind yourself.
For this reason I stopped short at one photograph of the food market in Tavira. I saw the looks on the nearby stallholders’ faces and I realised that you cannot be a ‘we live here’ and take photographs while shopping. A very friendly Angolan woman whose small restaurant we like has offered to take us round the market and introduce us to people there. This would be wonderful, if it happens. She recognised our need to be accepted as ‘we live heres’ when we asked her where she got her avocados from; they’re the best.
Waiting for the river
The sun is still warm but the nights are cold and the daytime air can be chilly. A few storms recently brought a lot of rain, which means the river could be back soon. Apparently it starts as a drizzle of brown sludge, then turns into a crystal clear flow. The people who live near the river – including us, soon – celebrate its return. You need to be alert if you want to catch the point of its arrival.
Along the riverbed, which I’ve been exploring, are a number of basins that still hold a little water, somewhat green and soupy. When the river is full these become swimming holes. We have two dipping spots not far from our house that look perfect for next spring.
One day after this post goes out is our escritura ceremony, when we – at last – become the legal owners of the house.