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'I have cringed so often at the rudeness and vulgarity of Britons abroad'

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IT IS only when the three big men sit down at my table that I can look beyond them and see their shoes neatly lined up outside my glass doors. They have padded over my tiled floor with a care it does not deserve.

On this wet, cold day, César has already muddied every square tile as if playing a game of hopscotch. The sodden leaves and twigs his long coat has gathered, fill in the tiles his paws have missed.

When I give them the minute cups of strong espresso they’ve asked for, after I invited them in, I tell them there was no need for the ceremonial shoe removal: the floor is filthy.

They look at me with a muted incomprehension. This is what workmen, ‘dirty jobs’ workmen, do, when entering a house. It matters not if the floor is already muddied or clean.

And it’s true. Every French workman who has come here has instinctively done the same. They have also not left without clearing and cleaning their workspace.

It is a question of respect. Respect for the client’s space; respect for their own temporary place in it. And pride. For there are few jobs considered beneath the dignity of a French workman…each job has a value and a worth.

We shake hands on meeting and call each other madame/monsieur that gives a........

© Herald Scotland