I had a very pleasant lunch with my friends Charles and Pierre (fellow guest was Pierre Paolichi). We got to talking about who were our friends in Bréau and the local area and agreed that what we have is a lot of friendly acquaintances but only a small number of friends with whom one can have the sort of discussion that we had been having over lunch.
These friends tend to be – with some exceptions – non-Cévenols. Charles listed half a dozen friends we have in common who are mainly (like him) originally Parisians. I would add that this is perhaps why I also have so many foreign (mainly anglophone) friends: not only because we have a common culture and language, but also because we are able to talk about politics, literature or life from a similar perspective.
I suppose this is the downside to living in a remote, rural area rather than in a city. But the upside is that – trying not to sound patronising – although conversation with locals may be limited to the weather, health, or local gossip, this is a friendly place to be and I enjoy these many daily contacts. Where in a city could one go down to the supermarket or market and bump into several friends or acquaintances as well as engaging in discussions with shopkeepers and traders?
It is also a symptom of age that it is no longer so easy to make new friends. So with one or two exceptions my close friends are still those that I have gathered earlier, in the course of my life.