There is a famous crêperie on the King’s Road. (We love crêpes, as we have kept in touch with simple pleasures.) As lumpen doughy pancakes were brought to the table with a pitiful garnish of anaemic lettuce and flavourless tomatoes, I wept. I gazed out at the rain and said: “I cannot do this.” My husband held my hand and looked quite wretched.
Having no talent for sex (or food), the English make a virtue of their deficiencies. What they really enjoy is going without. Rather than leave the office for a delicious lunch, they will pull out a Tupper-ware box of sandwiches. Instead of a soirée sensuelle, candlelit dinner followed by a night of love, they’ll go to the country to strip wallpaper, walk in the rain and sleep in a freezing cold bed.
In France, we are wary of the marchands de biens, dealers who buy and sell houses for profit, but in England everyone is a marchand de bien. The property ladder is the very essence of Englishness: a fusion of greedy profiteering and stay-at-home cosiness.
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