I have commented before on this blog that I like the simple things made from baked clay – like bricks and tiles. But one item I have I think rather beggared the belief of my wife.
We were in France on a brief holiday. I ought to explain here that my wife is actually pretty good at French. She’ll say she isn’t, but she actually did languages at uni – including French so she isn’t bad.
Mine, on the other hand is not good. Back when I was a teenager there were very few universities that would take you on any course without a modern foreign language ‘O’ level. I struggled. I guess the nerd brain likes things to be logical. Languages have some rules, but words lack logic. This probably applies to English more than French and of course, I learned English with no problems. But French was a nightmare for me. I took O level and failed badly. I took it again and failed narrowly. But by the time I had a girlfriend (now wife) who was good at it and she gave me lessons and confidence and I managed a pass. But it gives you the idea that really I was not good at coping with French. And with a competent wife, I tended not to even try to use it – unless I went off alone.
So one evening I went out for a solo walk around the village we were staying in and I returned to our bed and breakfast base with a tile.
I had engaged a man, out in his garden, in conversation and had blagged a tile off him. This man was a huge bloke and he was, whilst not chatting with me, wielding a hefty axe. He was quite scary looking really. But I was determined to try a bit of French – and one of the words I knew was the word for ‘tile’ and so I commented on the heap of them he had in his garden. And soon I was on my way with a tile tucked under my arm.
It has been an ornament at home ever since, so here it is.
This might have been deemed a decorated pan tile in England, but of course it is French. It was made by ‘Legros et Fils.
They come from Dieppe and this is their number 2 tuile.
I can’t find much about Legros, but this name appears on web site http://dieppe76.pagesperso-orange.fr – an alphabetical list of the famous people of Dieppe. I have machine translated it from the French.
Legros (Etienne-Isidore) Born in Rouen on 3 Jan 1811 and died at Dieppe on 10 Oct 1889. Founder Dieppe an important ceramics factory. In 1870 rendered immense services to the city. Dieppe Mayor from 1871 to 1879 President of the Tribunal of Commerce, Member of the Chamber of Commerce, Knight of the Legion of Honor.
Of course Dieppe was a far-away place, across the ocean when I was a child and we watched the ferries to-ing and fro-ing from Newhaven. And my tile, given by the garden axeman, came from there.