"NON, I cannot clean this" The dry cleaner from Pressing La lavande made it sound like the rug from Morocco was infested with tribal termites.
"And that will bleed" The Tibetan blanket I had brought back from Nepal was clearly going to leak something worse than blood on his green plastic floor.
He checked out the inoffensive pastel floral quilt from Carpentras market, approved it and checked a box on the ticket. I was struggling with his self importance, and oblique racism. He, meanwhile, was waggling his finger and tut tutting. Have some bloody imagination, I thought. You'd think a Yak wool natural dyed rug from fès would brighten his day, but no. It petrified him, threatened him, caused him to shut the shutters on beauty.
"I have to do a test" he said, hiking his glasses up over his beaky nose up onto his lined forehead, and revealing eyes that alternated between fright and disdain. He reached for a silver vessel that looked like a mini cocktail shaker and sprinkled powder on to the exotic fabrics. We waited, he for disaster and me to relax. Nothing happened.
I gently tried to prise the shutters open; told him a little of my travels, but all the while wafting total respect for Lavender Pressing his way; agreed that natural dyes posed a challenge, but isn't life full of them and don't they make the world go round etc....
Having initially rejected seven of my eight offerings, I left with a ticket with eight checked items.
I got the NON treatment from the women who work at the Mairie too. Glad for their pensions and holiday and maternity pay, but not happy to sit in the prettiest building in the village serving their community, it was NON all the way for my adoption questions. How can I legalise a signature from someone in the UK, I asked. Can they legalise it in an embassy there or do they really have to take time off work to come to a small village in the Vaucluse? NON (et OUI). And Can I have a 'certificate of morality' from the mayor who does not know me? NON. They were, quite simply, horrible. I asked to have a meeting with the mayor.
The Mayor, as people with confidence in jobs they know matter, says OUI. To everything. Not only that but he's prepared to legallise any old signature and give us whatever we need. No-one has to take time off their jobs or away from their family in England. That's ridiculous. And besides, I think he is quite in to having a little African child in the community.
..."And when are you starting a music festival in the demoiselles Coiffées?" he asked. Now there's a question.
"What about all the fire regulations?" I asked.
"Well there are always regulations...."
PS check out my friend Elena's zest for all things multicultural and wonderful.