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When dreams of the 'good life' fall apart

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In the first year here, an English chap worked for me a few times ‘on the black’, ‘under the counter’; otherwise known as cash in hand. It’s illegal to do that in France and both of us, not just him, could have got into serious trouble.

But everybody, even the registered ones, does it, keeping a percentage just for themselves.

Frankly, if it were possible in newspapers, so would I, as I think often when I look at my quarterly social charges, which take a big chunk of my meagre income….even before tax comes into play.

However, that’s the way it is and these are not the times to be playing games if one wants to remain in France.

The man I took on wasn’t very good at what he had to do which was simply painting. In fact, he was dreadful, but he was cheapish and I felt sorry for him.

In his 40s, three kids and a defeated-looking wife – he was basically squatting in a ruin of a house he’d picked up for a song.

Like many, unable to believe his luck at what he now owned after a tiny semi in the north of England, he forgot to add in all the other costs.

The idea of the ‘good life’ – living off the land; a life of that mythical ‘quality time’ with his........

© Herald Scotland