So I’m back in Mayotte. Arrived a few days ago actually, but whereas I thought I’d be getting back to routine after the summer, things have in fact been hectic. At the end of the month, Mrs B. retires, which means we’ll be leaving for good, which means we have to sell what little we have in the flat. Many people, when they leave Mayotte, set about this well before: in January last year, struck by the uncharacteristic conviction that we couldn’t live without a vacuum cleaner, I called a woman who was selling one. ‘Fine,’ she said, ‘It’ll be available in June.’ In the end it turned out that we can live without a vacuum cleaner.
The reason for such ridiculous forward planning is that people are afraid of having stuff left on their hands. But I can confidently reassure them – unless you’re too greedy (which some people are), it won’t happen. The turnover of French administrators is such that household equipment is constantly being passed on. As soon as we placed the ads, the phone began to ring, and within a few days our flat was stripped even barer than it was before. Fortunately, we’ve negotiated to keep bed, cooker and fridge till our final day, but I’ve had to borrow a garden table from our neighbour to serve as my desk. This evening, some young teachers are coming to carry away all our crockery. That’s OK. As long as I have a few pens and a notebook, I’m happy.