Les Vieux Amis

Monday morning; a shining sea and a blue, blue sky….


With her bright red curls stuffed randomly into the cavity of an old-fashioned wide-brimmed bonnet, and her two-piece swimming costume, Babette presents an image that is half in the last century, and half in this.  At 84, she is the acknowledged and natural matriarch of the group; the ringleader.

Her swimming costume comprises very contemporary shorts and a matching top made of black lycra, with the words ‘Rip Curl’ emblazoned in pink across her breasts.  She rises from her beach chair without recourse to its plastic arms, and holds out her hands like a child, turning to see who will come and take one.  The entrance to the sea has a steep shelf of fine gravel, and it is hard to keep your balance. Louis jumps to his feet, smiling, and does the honours.  Stomping past two young men who are still waiting for the right moment to take the plunge, she accomplishes the first few steps into the sea with Louis’s help, then launches herself with grace and determination.  The effect is tempered when she turns to the shore, a wide grin splitting the generously rouged lips ‘come on boys!’ she cries, laughing at them. That is Babette, who has the gift of finding something to smile at every minute, and gives this to whoever is with her.