The ‘Takeover’ of Mary Wells’s French Sea Step

I have never felt I owned anything but I am not asked for anything except money or the use of a house. There has been only one thing I have resented — but it wasn’t lending, it was being taken over.

I had a little port at my house in France. It was a postage stamp, but it had great steps into the sea. Every morning I would put down my blue-and-white beach towels. Within an hour strangers would be on them oiling themselves. I paid a hefty French tax for that little piece of cement and although you can’t stop anyone from using your steps into the sea in France they can’t pause. It used to raise my blood pressure to risk level to see those strangers on my blue-and-white towels taking over my little port. Police would come. My husband would start a fight with one of them. They would insist it was theirs as much as ours — oof!

I finally learned to put two small but expensive-looking chairs there, which suggested one would have to pay to stay there. Voila! No one ever sat on those chairs.

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