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The Secret Cevennes - articles by Samantha David


Bar None 

      I can't believe it.  I've been woken up every single morning this week by the sound of jackhammers at dawn.  I'm talking serious destruction across the road here: rubble, plaster-dust and topless workmen.  And although the tops off bit ought to make the whole malarkey acceptable, it doesn't.  Not at bloody 7am it doesn't.

      They've got these terrible slammery-hammery pam-pam drills to dig holes in the metre-thick walls of the house over the road in order to add a bunch of doors and windows and make the place into... wait for it... a bar.

      A bar right over the road?  A little drinkie, a few olives, a couple of jokes, a pile of scandal and local gossip.  No driving, no parking, no bother.  Normally I'd be completely in favour.  What's not to like?  But thinking this one through, I'm not so sure.

      For a start off, a bar with only two tables set out beside the bus shelter where the kids park their scooters doesn't really constitute a proper watering hole.  Also, it won't have a license so we're talking wine and beer plus a bottle of pastis under the counter rather than an actual chilled Moët fountain with background Ella.

      And then, where are the customers coming from?  I mean how mad can you get?  A bar in Moisson?  The place boasts a population of 25 - and most of them are over 90.  They don't even go to the annual drinks party at the Mairie where the booze is free.  The place is so depopulated that even the mobile shops don't bother. 

      There was a monthly wine van once, but the old codgers make their own rotgut so the wine van went away.  Then a greengrocery van came up from Moisson-La-Cèbe every Wednesday for a couple of months but that didn't last long.  Also, I seem to remember a lady who sold goats' cheese from the back of a Renault 18 - but she retired with relief after several months of chucking rotten cheese into the river.

      The only mobile shop which still comes to Moisson is the baker from Moisson-Le-Grand who comes up every day after breakfast with the baguettes.  And even he supplements his trade with Trois Suisse deliveries.

      But the guys from the Marie are convinced that what is needed to restore the village's fortunes (and possibly even its population) is a café.  A place where beautiful people can mix, mingle and relax in the sun-drenched evenings as the golden rays slip gently behind the mountain peaks. 

      Blimey.  What they'll actually get is the builder and his mates all fired up with enthusiasm and free beer drinking to oblivion every night.  Lots of self-congratulation, lots of rowdy chair-scraping and backslapping, and a certain amount of motorbike revving at midnight.  Certainly no beautiful people and if last summer's weather is anything to go by, precious few golden rays either.

      But when August draws to a close, when the last of those second-homers buggers off, what then?  What about when the kids go back to school and the teens return to work in Montpellier?  What about when it's cold and dark outside at 5pm?  I can't see anyone turning out in the rain and mist to sit on a drafty terrace when they could be cosy at home drinking in front of the telly.  And how will the accounts balance then, poor things?

      You mark my words, by mid-September that bar will be history.  All of which means that added to the irritation of being woken by building works every morning at dawn is the depressing conviction that all this cacophony and dust is a total waste of time anyway.

      Blimey.  I'm off back to bed.  

Next (bad-tempered, underslept) column will be uploaded around 1st August.




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