Sunday, 28 October 2012

Snippets from Life in France – The Business Card

Setting up house in rural France when one speaks little French and normally resides 16000 km away, is a voyage of discovery. Although fraught with difficulties, (a head on car crash, a few trips to hospital, falling through a rotting floor, trying to deal with my elusive and swindling Man on the Ground….), when reflecting on the positive experiences, the negative ones  diminish in significance.
One of my greatest joys has been meeting the colourful characters who reside, temporarily or permanently, in our corner of France. With a tendency to be shy, I had to put aside my foibles and take the initiative to talk to people in painfully poor French. As a passionate flâneur, opportunities naturally arose to make acquaintances as I meandered through the village. One such person was Toby. I had passed Toby’s maison secondaire on the edge of the village a few times during my daily strolls, twice stopping to photograph the worn exterior of sa maison before I chanced upon him, seated on his terrace with a pipe in one hand and a glass of red in the other, savouring some regional produce and the delights of dusk – a time when the cooling air releases the fragrance of the forest and birds are called to song.

During my first apero chez Toby, an old film camera was produced as Toby boldly inquired, “ Do you mind if I take a shot of your face with your name? Terrible memory. Like to avoid embarrassment.”  Dutifully the “newcomers” lined up on the terrace, chatting (wine glass in hand) while waiting for their turn to have an identifying portrait taken – a procedure reminiscent of that of the dreaded, annual school photograph.

Like many houses in France, the antiquated exterior of Toby’s maison belied its tastefully restored interior. Giant butterfly nets hung from oak beamed walls and each item of decoration and carefully placed furniture had an interesting history.

Toby was relaxed and quietly confident – a man who has made a career from his passions and takes life in his stride. A charming host and an entertaining raconteur with a soft BBC accent. His thick brown hair has a rogue lock that frequently has to be flicked out of his face. With a portly frame and gentle demeanour, Toby reminds me of a much-loved teddy bear. He seldom ventures into the heart of the village, preferring to spend his time meandering through the local forest where he collects butterflies and other insects from which he makes preserved collections – a pastime he has pursued in France since childhood.

One gets the impression that despite the personal challenges he has faced, Toby still views life as a “Boy’s Own Adventure”. During our conversations, it was clear that he has an upbeat outlook on life that enables him to make the mundane appear exotic. One gets an inkling of this from his business card on which the whole family appears along with the farcical name of his commercial enterprise. A side of this card reads as follows.

Toby Nightingale
Sporting & Natural History

Anthony Nightingale
Poultry & Rural Pursuits

Henrietta Nightingale
Fencing, Theatre & English Literature

(Interpretation: A gentleman who enjoys the pursuit of his passions, regardless of the financial rewards. Life is to be enjoyed.)
(Interpretation: Anthony has finished school and, at the age of 18, doesn’t know what to do with his life so he is currently breeding poultry while he “finds himself”.)

(Interpretation: Henrietta is a drama student who has completed an Arts degree and fences as a hobby. Has yet to discover the importance of financial security.)
Now how could life ever be dull with a business card like that?


Lost in Provence said...

Oh my goodness, that gives one something to strive for, doesn't it? :) Maybe mine would be something like: Heather, Dreaming and Gustatory Pursuits? Loly-gagging and dog-snuggling?



Burlap Luxe said...

Thank you lady "E" for gracing your beauty over at my place, your words that encourage who and what I am all about I so treasure coming from a lady with divine words.

Thank you for all that you are, and how your posting inspire us so about a normal life in France, and the things that tilt your live a bit there.
I am enamored with how you even took notice of my "All is Calm" sign and how you connected with it.
I hope that it perhaps inspired you to even try your hand at painting one for yourself, I know to ship one so far would be costly, and perhaps my inspiring words will inspire you to create something over your desk with these vary words.

See you soon, and all that you may post, inspiring us in so many ways.
Dore ��

Mademoiselle Poirot said...

Great post, I wonder where in France you live... Love the business card, I always say that my business card reflects ambition more than reality but have never looked at how somebody else might interpret it!

Thanks for your lovely comment and compliment on my blog, I really appreciate it. Bonne journée xo

Virginia said...

I like Lost's Loly-gagging description of herself!!! This was a delightful post my dear. I'd love to meet Toby myself. What a great sense of humor.

Martina said...

Ha ha, LOVE the business cards and interpretations! We all need some more creativity in this - and why not have one that expresses MORE of your personality! Happy Halloween to you!

Karen Albert said...

That is one of the best business cards ever! Elizabeth at last you are there, I hope in one piece and working out the kinks so that you can REALLY enjoy all their is to discover!

2012 Artists Series

Monika Ozdoba said...

Hello Dear! I like your blog so much! This is my first visit here but definitely not the last :) Would you like to follow each other? :)


*Chic Provence* said...

HI Elizabeth that business card is perfectly hilarious! how many of us could come up with the "truth" on our cards.. Toby sounds a treasure!



martinealison said...

Bonsoir ma chère,
J'ai lu avec beaucoup d'attention votre publication...
J'espère que vous vous intégrez bien dans votre petit coin de France...
Où vivez-vous exactement ?...

Si le coeur vous en dit, nous pourrions de temps en temps correspondre...

De très jolies photos...

Gros bisous à vous et bon weekend, malgré le mauvais temps !

Plastic Business cards said...

Quite in France is so simple...

ali naqvi said...

Absolutely amazing post...its impressive...!!!!Plastic business cards

Katherines Corner said...

Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop. I featured you on facebook and google plus. Hugs P.S. I added a watermark to your image.