Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Blues

As regular readers will know I’ve temporarily stopped selling rosé in the markets and have been spending the last few months trying to set up a magazine.

Viable year round businesses in the Luberon are as rare as wild boar sightings but they do exist. My plan is to sell rosé in the summer markets and then spend the winter producing a magazine.

It’s all been going so well, but then earlier this week, I got the travelling salesman’s blues.
They crept over me like the first few gentle bars from a Chicago guitar. I think it all began on Monday at the Salon des Jardins et Nature in Avignon. Maybe subliminally the name depressed me. Certainly the deserted car park, full of pot holes which were in turn full of water, did nothing for my mood.

There was a box office which looked more like an army command bunker, and a large hall full of desperate looking salesman salivating over the limited prey.

Shops round the world are now pumping fragrances into the air to encourage people to buy, but
clearly this technology has yet to reach Provence. Instead there was a pen full of sheep which gave the atmosphere a malodorous fetid stench.

I was there to meet the swimming pool manufacturers who were hunched in a corner trying to cover their noses with handkerchiefs while necking glasses of rosé . I approached one of the region’s finest, proffering a glossy brochure about my magazine. I’d barely begun my spiel before a hand was shoved into my face and a half sentient henchman grabbed my arm and led me away. The boss was here to sell not to buy.

I thought nothing of it, but as the week progressed and I failed to impress more and more people, I became depressed. What was the point in it all?

The rut deepened as I met grumpy Provencaux after grumpy Provencaux. Despite the positive advertising figures I’d had enough of putting on the salesman’s charm. I sat at home gulped red wine and bored Tanya to tears with my self-indulgent woes.

Then I met Eric Sapet the Chef of the La Petite Maison in Cucuron. If anybody can put a smile on you face it is Eric. He is comic in proportion - small and round with a cherubic face - his every step exudes bon-humeur. His cooking is half decent too - a starter of watermelon and sardines sounds like a Beano school dinner, but when you eat it, it is absolutely delectable.

Eric, beamed at me, and told me he thought my magazine was a great idea. The only smell of sheep was the slowly stewed lamb shank bubbling away in his kitchen, and I left feeling the world was a good place again.

And so if you are in Provence this summer, go and eat at the Petite Maison, it will make you smile