Friday, 20 January 2012

Fringe France Diary 2

One of the main things that stuck us when the business was gone was the lack of feeling that seemed to come over us. Well me especially. There was a certain numbness about it that wasn't entirely evident in the beginning. I reckon that not seeing the actual damage being done might have had some impact on my reaction. I wasn't there when the water poured through the ceiling of our shop from above, or when A felt that the shutters were hot when she opened them. I didn't see anything of the shopkeepers on the street pouring buckets of water into the snow in the street, or the piles and piles of stock and papers and equipment being destroyed. A and I have discovered that in a true partnership two people just cannot cry at once. We've tried, it's impossible. One person has to hold the other person, and that just is the way it is. Bad partnerships happen when one person just chooses to cry and be held up, but we didn't have one of those. One of us was always strong. Then the other took their turn. People wouldn't understand when we chose to do things together. Why don't you each do a half week and take the rest of the time off? Or one do one thing while the other does something else? That just wasn't our way. We spent those eighteen thousand hours pretty much together and I woudn't change it.

The next six months were really a bit of a shock. We didn't need to be together all the time, and didn't really have a common goal any more. We adjusted to our lives without our business and got on with things. We went to work and paid our bills and met for coffee and had nice times. My problem was I just started to run out of things to say. People would ask me what I did and I would look at them blankly and change the subject. It wasn't like I didn't have a job, but I had always had a business. It was strange because I was relatively modest about it, wasn't a big self promoter of the business, but it was always on my mind. People were always talking it up for me and that was nice, but I didn't like to advertise. Now though I didn't have a business, or did I? I'm not sure. That was the main thing though, this absence of it. And yet it was still there. It was multi faceted our wee business, more of a feeling we had about things. A nice place for people to go and look at beautiful things and take them home. In our heads it was a concept more than a physical thing. That concept still exists but doesn't have such a sturdy home. We always wanted to seek out the most beautiful things we could and bring them all together to make a lifestyle, a way to be. Not an expensive life, or a flashy one, just beautiful.

There wasn't really any reason why this should change so we decided to carry on. To find those things and collect them together and show people, just in a different way. We collected recipes from mums and grans and tried them all, some good, some bad. We threw parties for friends and made decorations and dinner and watched movies. We went to classes to learn to make things and gave them away, and in doing all this we learned that you can find a sort of peace in these simple things, and a sense of achievement too.

So sans business and lovely income we decided to scour life for possibilites. What can make us happy like that which was once ours? What could give us the same sense of achievement and wonder that we had in abundance only months before? We narrowed down the options. We had never been one for expensive designer clothing or holidays yachting in St Tropez, and so it wasn't that we felt the need to fund a lifestyle of extravagance. Jabbering like monkeys and bursting with inspiration was the order of the day, and we found this in the most unlikely of places. The mission took us to off the beaten track home grown cafes filled with vintage tea sets and the freshest meringue in the land. It took us to beaches to eat ice cream and to start a book club with friends with lots of tasty new recipes to be tried and tested. All of these things can be found and sampled for yourself, whether you live in a city or a tiny hamlet, you have £1 or £1million.

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