Off, the pajamas:
I’m just full of ideas, me. I could be a billionaire if I were money-loving enough, instead of being an early pensioner with an invalidity permit and 500 euros a month from the State for my pains. Phoenix, Arizona. Not a single decent antique shop. They were buying their antiques from New York, or wherever… Imagine, 350,000 inhabitants, as it was at the time, and not a single antique shop… I had stock back home worth over 2 million francs at a time when $1 was 5 francs.
But there was my wife. She didn’t want to go in the end.
Ile de la Réunion – I fell in love with the place. Found a splendid piece of land with a view of paradise covered with these magnificent old trees whose flowers remind you of those plants we sell here mainly at Christmas time. The property fell in terraces and the idea was to build a house on each terrace and let them out as holiday homes. Or maybe to the military stationed there; they’d be reliable clients. He wanted 775,000FFR, which was a wad of money even in them days. Down payment? No way, but my word, which was good enough. I had the land all measured out and back home secured a credit of two million, then organized a whole troupe of people to get this project born.
The appointment was for Monday at 10am. 10am came and went, ten thirty… Where the hell is he? I asked the notary. Be patient, monsieur, he soothed. This is Monday and you are in Réunion, not in France. Here, things get done at a different pace. Listen, I said, already feeling uneasy. I have worked my balls off for the last months, and I have just flown 9,000km to be here. Where the hell is he? Later, much later, the proprietor turned up. Ah, monsieur, bonjour! So, we are ready for the sale? Well, monsieur… erm, monsieur, we will have to round up the price a little bit… Round up the price a little bit, he’d said… Monsieur, monsieur, my property is worth at least 1,000,000FFR, monsieur…
I was the first to have a tent up during those winter flea markets where you’d stamp your feet and freeze your balls off waiting for clients to stroll by. They’d stop at my stall so as to be out of the rain. And whilst they were there, and the rain out there, they’d browse around a bit. And find things to buy. Of course. Within no time, all the other vendors had tents up, so that the whole place looked like a friggin Bedouin camp.