Within a few paces of the garden gate lies a peaceful refuge in the true chauvinist spirit of France. In the baker’s dozen of years that I have passed in this hamlet I have yet to see a female in this “cave”. This is a fact that needs no apology as there is no exclusion, just a distinct lack of interest or desire on the part of the distaff side of this tiny community. It would be similar to excluding me from a football ground as the only way that I would consider entering such a place would include dragging and wild horses.
On hot days, or indeed cool and rainy days, a conversation started with my neighbour could very well end in the cool of his “cave”. In the cluttered peace of this comfortable shambles we will not talk of sport, tits or politics. We might discuss the level of alcohol in the “épine” that is macerating in a large black plastic dustbin in the corner into which he’ll plunge a small glass and draw up a slightly cloudy pale pink draught for me to taste. We’ll talk of today, yesterday and tomorrow. The racks are full of bottles of nothing particularly special…samples of his friends’ distillations and wines for the most part. Boxes of wine, of the supermarket variety, fill the spaces between trays of apples in the old fridge and are piled up on shelves behind the newly constructed bar. Aside from this simple selection of wine, we have chairs, a table and a lead square on the floor for playing “palets” which leaves very little wanting save for Omar’s loaf of bread and thee.