As they once sang: ‘please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of …’ Perhaps best I leave others to fill in the blanks there. Suffice to say I was until recently a hop, step and a jump from The Valley, residing in Blackheath Village; now and for the foreseeable I’m a TGV and a Eurostar away. All just a matter of degree. Although the pandemic didn’t exactly make things easy, my longstanding/longsuffering French partner Suzanne and I kind of decided that if we didn’t cohabit now when would we? And in a short space of time a lot of things came together.
We were on holiday in mid-2020, having chosen a couple of places close to Suzanne’s place in Lyon in light of the pandemic. One week was in a wonderful mill in Saint-Desert, with a panoramic view over the Chalonnais vineyards. We paid a visit to nearby Givry and while strolling around the town, fortified by a glass or two, I couldn’t help thinking there are worse places to end up in. Over the second half of the year and into 2021, with me spending more time in Lyon than London (before the 180-day rule sent me packing) we looked at a few places, you know how it is. I returned to London and we pretty much decided to put it all on hold until travel was back to normal. Then of course Suzanne gets sent details of a stone house built circa 1800 on the outskirts of Givry, in a hamlet some might say appropriately (for me) called Poncey (please, it is pronounced Poncee).
In March we put in an offer, in July she picked up the keys. In the interim all I needed to do was get a residency permit for France, get a new flat roof for my place and redecorate it (to be fit to rent), sort out all my belongings (including cruelly reducing my Charlton items to something manageable which Suzanne wouldn’t burn), start to arrange for getting me and them to France, all of course while working. The visa alone was a nightmare (I can provide details but when you don’t fit into one of the three categories it gets very Kafkaesque), but by mid-July it was all just about still doable. I was still painting and packing at 01.00 on a Wednesday morning, two hours before Sean and his guys turned up with a large van to take everything under the drink and across France. By 16.00 we were in Givry unloading all my stuff, Suzanne briefly showing me around the place we had bought which I had never seen in the flesh before handing over the brushes and paint for me to get started.
And since August I have been residing in France, mixing the time between Lyon and Givry (while we wait for the installation of the necessary fibre broadband, promised to be imminent). I don’t know when my first trip back to London will be; I can just imagine the conversation at the Eurostar check-in: ‘So Sir, do you have a compelling reason to travel to the UK and back?’ ‘Yes, Charlton are playing Harrogate in the Papa John’s Trophy final’.
In the interim, armed with a 12-month subscription to the Charlton TV streams, I will continue posting over-long rambles and reports, perhaps mixed with a flavour of life in Burgundy, especially as winter gives way to the flowering of the vines, our relationship with Rusty the Squirrel develops (assisted by Suzanne feeding him my peanut butter), and as the Addicks put in the surge up the table in the second half of the season to get us into the play-offs. I hope it proves to be an enjoyable ride.