Car 4

Mrs Marianne de Vendeuse

Outward appearance

Brown coat to the floor, delicate scarf in different shades of brown, long soft boots in fake alligator-pattern cloth. Her hair is highlighted but is naturally light brown. Her face, though deeply lined, is somehow also young in attitude: forthright, impatient, open, defensive all at once. She moves next to her son and thumbs through a magazine.

Inside information

Works in a friend's plant shop. She speaks impeccable French. Worked in France for many years as a ski instructor, where she met her rich, French husband. Now impoverished, she often nips across the Channel in order to buy cigarettes in bulk to sell in the UK. She would take a van if she could afford the rental and buy wine. Cigarettes are light enough for the train. She worries about finance, but only for the sake of her son. Otherwise she would live anywhere, anyhow.

What she is doing or thinking

She is looking through two free women's magazines that are mainly job ads within a shell of second-hand articles. She hopes to find something that will use her skills in French. "They all want something I don't have," she sighs. "I can speak the language probably better than someone who's been to university, but they all want qualifications."

"You could get one of these teaching English qualifications," her son says. He thumbs back to the course ads.

Indeed, she could. She smiles and kisses him. Her reward for being brave is Andy. She looks at his black rucksack, with the logo "Mon Viso 3."

"My face," she muses.

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