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My Future Fictional French Self
"Even in my wildest fantasies, it seems I can't ever eat enough bread and cheese..."
Look. I’ve given it a good shot for the last 37 years, but I’ve decided that not living in a rustic French countryside cottage just isn’t for me.
So while the notaires trundle through paperwork and Madame Delfieux vaguely considers clearing out all her stuff, I’m undertaking the important work of sitting around daydreaming about my future French life.
Because obviously, buying a house in France is going to radically transform my brain, body and personality. Most likely, I’ll be unrecognisable by Noël.
I affectionately call this revamped-Sara my FFFS - Future Fictional French-House Self - and I thought it was time you got to know her too.
My FFFS wakes up early every day. Fatigue? Chronic illness? She knows nothing of these. Instead, my FFFS is awoken by the (perpetual) sunlight that streams through her (always clean) windows at dawn, and immediately sits up amongst artfully-scrumpled linens to stretch like a ballerina. She pads (my FFFS never just walks anywhere) softly over ancient terracotta tiles into the kitchen which is not, as it currently appears, just a ramshackle combination of 80’s cupboards and multiple fridges, but a delightfully rustic wooden affair painted the perfect shade of calming white. She fills a stove top kettle over a vintage stone sink and sets about brewing a pot of coffee for the day.
Like most fictional French women (or fictional women based in France, at least), my FFFS rarely needs to eat, subsisting instead on espresso, sunlight and an occasional pear plucked fresh from the orchard. Actual British Me (ABM) can’t handle caffeine and doesn’t really like pears, but somehow, I feel sure that relocating to a French house will magically transform all of this. (So sure, in fact, that during the past 18 months of house-hunting I have bought no fewer than 3 rough-thrown ceramic bowls for the explicit purpose of ‘putting pears in’.)
Anyway. Next my FFFS takes her coffee out into the garden, where the early morning sun glows golden on her (flawless, ambiguously youthful) face. Her hair is just the right kind of messy, and she’s wearing a flowy white nightgown that she probably bought from Zara Home, or perhaps it is vintage? It’s so hard to say with my FFFS, as she effortlessly blends high-street-finds with her flea market treasures like the idealised fictional woman she is.
Out in the garden, a selection of well-behaved cats weave between her legs and a cow moos softly somewhere out in the distance. She takes a breath and listens to the birdsong, appreciating how, so unlike back in Yorkshire, none of her neighbours here have decided to get up and use an industrial strimmer at 10 million decibels before 8am.
At this point my FFF Daughter, Orla, awakens and comes outside to find her mama. She’s wearing her own possibly-vintage flowing nightgown, that definitely does not have ‘LOL Surprise dolls’ printed on it. Her hair is escaping a pair of messy braids, and she asks for a local croissant for breakfast, naturellement, saying nothing about how they taste funny here and that she prefers the ones we used to get from the Co-Op back in England.
My FFF Husband is sleeping in, which means my FFFS gets to set down a steaming mug of coffee on his bedside table with a smile. FFF Husband appreciatively receives said coffee, and does not remark that I seem to have made the grind too coarse” nor asks if I remembered to use the special bamboo stirring thing this time or not? Oh look, FFFD has placed a single bloom, picked from the garden, into a small jam jar with water and set it beside his cup! What a totally normal and regular occurrence this is for us all in our Future Fictional French Life.
”Well,” says FFF-me, “time to get to work I suppose!” Quickly, she washes and dresses in a flowing linen gown that nobody mistakes for her nightgown, even though it’s essentially the same thing. My FFFS needs no cosmetics, being a 24/7 natural beauty with astonishingly long eyelashes, and when she wears SPF it’s always magically absorbed into her skin and doesn’t form a tacky film that stray strands of her hair proceed to stick to throughout the day.
She takes her coffee and sits at a flea-market bureau that she’s repainted in a soft chalky green. There, she sets about completing an idealised list of completely enchanting tasks that mainly require her to stare longingly out of the window, writing occasional things carefully into a linen-bound notebook in antique fountain pen.
Her work goes quickly because nobody ever interrupts her to to show her an interestingly-shaped crisp or ask where their charger is or to whether this box is ok to go in the recycling or not.
Soon it is lunchtime - that iconic French ritual - so my FFFS spends several minutes gazing at a salad to ingest its replenishing essence and vibes before retiring to an artfully-placed chaise in the garden to read. It’s a classic novel in French, because she’s not only fluent but easily able to navigate the archaic dialectal eccentricities of 1800’s French literature without breaking a sweat.
She does not take her phone with her, and she definitely isn’t remotely tempted to hate-scroll the Daily Mail or to read smutty Star Wars fanfiction for a desperate 2pm dopamine boost. She does briefly, however, permit her FFF-husband to take a single, perfectly composed photograph of her, when he grows overcome upon seeing her effortless grace. Later today she will perhaps post it to Instagram where nobody will mind that it is not a Reel of her dancing to Kate Bush.
My FFFS takes a small, momentary nap in the shade that entirely refreshes her, not remotely making her feel like she’s just awoken from an 18-month coma on life support. But oh! How late it has become! At any moment, a cluster of beloved, creative and intellectual friends will be arriving to drink ice cold rosé in the meadowy grasses as the sun sinks to sleep behind the trees!
Ce n'est pas un problème - she shall simply toss another vibe-rich salad and whip out a fresh baguette that she bought at sunrise from the local bakery and brought home in the basket of a rickety old bike with kittens in.
My FFFS arranges these things on a rustic wooden table in the grass alongside a selection of local cheeses that have not made her fridge smell like a farm, and then sinks back into a chair as said friends arrive. Together, amongst the wildflowers and butterflies (no spiders), everyone drinks copiously without ever getting drunk to the point where they start singing the hits from Sister Act, or falling off their chair.
Together, my FFFS and friends laugh and eat and try to remember what it is like to have problems, because it is important to stay grounded and real.
The dog returns from walking himself and has fetched a copy of a daily paper, and my FFFS is charmed to note that her new book (that she awoke one FFF-morning to find she had written entirely in her sleep) is a number one bestseller around the world. How nice! Perhaps she will pen a quick sequel tonight when her friends have retired for the eve.
Together with her assembly of intellectual and creative garden friends, Future Fictional French Sara raises an ever-chilled glass of rosè and toasts to the importance of making good choices in life. And always having realistic ambitions.
N'est-ce pas? xxx