Sharing with Vinko, the Swedish helpXer of Croatian origin has been interesting. he keeps himself to himself and does as he pleases. I cook, he comes to eat in the summer kitchen with a headful of interesting conversations, all of the utmost importance for the moment and deep and relevant to the workings of the world. If there is football on the TV he takes his plate and excuses himself, explaining that he has something important to do on the internet, otherwise we try and discuss an array of topics. Why does the western world continue to provide food aid to developing countries when it would be cheaper to teach them how to build dams and provide themselves with food. How is it that the US won’t leave Iraq or Afghanistan even though they are not wanted there and it is costing their government billions of dollars? How come technology is better for fighting machines and jets that with anything else, wouldn’t they make more money if they used it in civilian machines? Shouldn’t all houses be built to the highest environmental standards with solar panels and ultra efficient insulation? Everything is a ‘huge tragedy’ or a ‘stupid big mistake’. Dinner over, he washes up and goes back to the cottage where he is installed. he is busy working there renovating, I have been slightly involved but he seems happier on his own and wants a young helper who will do what he is told without discussion, just as he has done in the past. Fine by me, I have quite enough work in the garden, sanding tables , preparing food and listening to Innes’ stories.
Margot turned up a couple of days ago, to cook and clean and take over the gardening once I leave. She is a Russian, from Latvia, with an interesting past. Conversation is difficult as she has only been speaking english for 3 weeks. She learned in school, some 30 years ago, but has never spoken English before. There is a huge vocabulary but not much grammar and discussions often end up with much laughter as she ties herself in verbal knots. A childhood spent with a grandfather who was a phytotherapist, and a soviet early life, transition into the european way of life. three ex husbands, businesses run and sold and recent losses through the financial crash that has hit Baltic states much harder than we ever get to know. Incomes slashed by 60 - 70% whilst prices stay the same, similar to those in Western Europe. She bought a flat for 80000 euro and had to fore close after her income was slashed, the bank repossessed and said it was only worth 17000 and demands the remaining money back. No Chance. Two weeks later she is in France, speaking English and having an adventure, hopefully funded by a glossy magazine back home, though she won’t return for a while as the bank will be after her. It would be great to catch up again in the future as her stories were so interesting but such an effort through the language barrier.
One day later, Ally arrives. I go with Innes to Rodez airport to spot him in the crowd and make sure he doesn’t get lost. Vinko has a helper at last. Atwenty two year old university student, as keen as he is green and ready for a summer of hard work sunshine and a bit of French culture. He might get most, and plenty of good food, but with a Crotian Swede, a Russian Latvian and a the most English French lady I have ever met, am not sure that the culture will be pure French.