This week we flew to England for the Coronation. We had not received an invitation at our Villa in France, despite telling the Palace we had moved, so we decided to pop over to see if the royal correspondence had been mistakenly delivered to our UK address, our hobbit cottage in Somerset.
It took quite a while to shuffle the mail to see if anything had arrived with a Buckingham Palace return address, but there was absolutely nothing of interest except a new PIN for the debit card I’ve already lost and confirmation from the electoral register office that I was still listed as a voter in UK.
So, in consolation, it was off to the pub.
There is a reality in my ‘local’ pub that bears no relation to the woke world of the BBC or the Guardian, and I am so happy that the Vixen’s Arms hasn’t yet been part of the tsunami of pub closures.
Brian the grumpy landlord was on top form. “Where you been then?” he asked. Then an infinitesimal electrical charge forced its way through a miasma of undigested Guinness and he recalled something. “Ow is it in Hitaly?” I once tried to explain where we’d moved to, but for some reason he latched on to the idea that this was in Italy not France. I tried to dislodge the idea several times but I’ve now given up.
Once, when I was still based in England, he banned me from the pub on the grounds that I hadn’t been in for three weeks.
“You can’t just turn up here any time you want,” he roared. “Go on, get out!”
He has not mellowed with age, but since I now live in Hitaly I’m allowed to stay out of his pub for a few weeks at a time.
I’m perfectly at home in the Vixen’s Arms especially on Wednesdays, which is old boys’ night, in contrast to Monday evenings which is Ladies’ Skittle Night – to be avoided – or Tuesday’s Mens’ Skittle Night when it’s hard to get to the bar.
Vernon has just had a heart valve replacement – only a local anaesthetic – and Graham’s shallots are doing well. Just enough rain and not too much frost.
We sit three in a row on widely-based bar stools staring ahead at the whisky top shelf, saying nothing, but sharing the view that it’s all gone downhill and we’re in injury time.
I broke the silence and asked about the Coronation. Vernon crossed his arms and noted in a long monologue that he had, and has, known five monarchs in his 88 years, a surprising and remarkable feat in itself. When Vernon was born George V had not yet mentioned Bognor*, the saga of Edward VIII had not yet started, and George VI lay in the middle distance.
What has all this got to do with Monte-Carlo? Not much, I have to admit, but I’ll be back very soon and everyone needs a break from steady sunshine, interminable glamour, and the glittering sea.
Monte-Carlo Diary is published in the interests of diversity, and any views expressed or implied do not necessarily reflect those of the publishers.
PHOTO: King George V Public domain