The woman at the front of the queue was in full and belligerent flow. I don’t know who she was talking to on her mobile but she was certainly giving them what-for, effing and blinding away and yelling that she f…... wasn’t going to be treated like that.
The weary-looking shop assistant (at a chemist's in a nearby town) had clearly seen it all before. She didn’t turn a hair, just waited for the woman to finish ranting, raised her eyebrows ever-so slightly and then slapped her change into her hand. The loud-mouthed customer grabbed her shopping and stomped out without saying a word to the assistant. No thank you. No nothing.
I haven’t blogged about France for ages but it suddenly struck me how different shopping on the other side of the Channel is. At my favourite boulangerie the lovely proprietor is so charming that her devoted regulars don’t mind how long they wait to be served. Her freshly-baked baguettes and tartes aux framboises are so delicious that the lunchtime queue snakes out of the shop and down the pavement - but no one bats an eyelid, let alone complains about the wait.
When we get to the counter she always greets us personally, compliments my children on their French and smiles as we fumble for the right number of euros. She packs everything into exquisitely-wrapped paper parcels, tells us a bit about her time working as a hotel receptionist in London and wouldn’t dream of letting us leave without a cheery “au revoir, bonne journée.”