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A gambol in London's fields

It could have been the Place du Capitole, Toulouse, instead of Northcote Road, Battersea.

On London's hottest day of the year every bar, cafe and restaurant had its tables and chairs out - with ashtrays to boot.

Stalls and barrows lined part of the route, filled with enticing, eclectic products from dressed crab, through freshly baked bread to shiny pails full of every conceivable cut flower.

The heat had that sultry forever feel normally found only in countries where summer stays summer for a whole season.

French was even being spoken around me, further evidence of the city's rapidly expanding French community.

But there, thankfully for me, the similarities ground to a halt.

Sitting with a large vin, I studied more intently the scene moving in a Technicolor wave before my eyes.

Many of the women - the yummy mummies of this nappy valley as coined by Will Self - were clad in form-fitting Lycra running clothes, hair pulled taut from cared-for faces with perfectly plucked eyebrows.

They walked or ran proudly, backs straight, eyes on the distant goal.

Their figures comprised tiny, tiny waists, long legs, and firm not over-large bosoms. Some were obviously between runs and pushed space-age buggies with equally focused babies or chatted with identical women over scented, unsugared tea.

The men who were there matched them in casual, healthy good looks and discreet, expensive clothing. One could not imagine these honed, toned and moisturised gladiators risking early death by swilling too much booze or, wash my mouth out, inhaling carcinogenic substances.

When they smiled they revealed teeth of exquisite symmetry and whiteness.

I thought of my rural compatriots with their fondness for bling on everything; their flashes of green and pink in brutally cut hair and their genetic inheritance of short height and bad teeth.

There was a quick twinge of disloyalty but I scrubbed them quickly from my mind. I'd be back soon enough; my long weekend with my son, a master of this glorious universe, a mere semi-colon in my life.

There was, though, something odd in the scene. I peered further. Bang - got it. I was an escapee in Logan's Run, the sci-fi film where everyone who hits 21 reports to a happiness gas-filled chamber for euthanasia.

Hell. Are they culling the old in SW11? Is it happening in Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh? We should be told.

When I steadied myself and called for another vin, I realised I'd experienced an e-cig induced hallucinatory moment and got out the hard stuff for a calming puff.

Thank God. There were over 50s here and there; they were just invisible amid such rude health and righteousness, until called into being by a seeker of truth.

Imbued with the spirit of the area I power-walked, in my terms, along the road.

More evidence of not being in France. People were eating, eating, in restaurants after 2pm. Scandalous.

There were restaurants serving loadsathings and not a bloody duck breast or haricot vert in sight. (Sits, fans and calls for another wine. Def. not France - triple the price.)

And, just ahead a glimpse of green, a touch of gold? Thank you God again: a mini M&S.

I didn't cry even when I saw my longed-for free-range egg mayonnaise tub at £1.60 - just fondled it with eyes moistening.

I hope the CCTV camera found nothing odd in my touching-up of the micro-ready vegetables and my sighs over the beef.

Perhaps they spotted a tear when faced with the soda bread and the large white sandwich loaf? I'm sure the security guards understood when they heard me telling the poor woman just in for a sandwich how glorious this all was.

Yes, another thing. Salespeople, passers-by even, are so pleasant and want to help you.

Help you? Find you what you want? Gosh. I've been away too long and just expect to be reviled and scowled at when I show an interest in something. It's the French way.

So when people are nice to me I find it hard to let them go. They become my new best friends and keep smiling until I realise I'm exhibiting abnormal behaviour.

Leaving my newest, bestest friend in the entire world at the knickers counter I go to Specsavers. Less than 24 hours later my eyes have been tested, I've bought two pairs, one sunglasses, for the price of one and the staff … love me. Love me.

I meander into a newsagent's, as my e-cig thing is not firing up. They are selling my old More, banned in France for being too long. Bloody hell, they're almost £10 a packet. Thank heavens I'm "giving up" - I buy two. A month ago I'd have cleared their stock. Progress or price?

In a wine shop on my way back I scan the shelves to bring something to the table.

Whoa! How can the Brits be binge drinkers? The prices! I buy three bottles for the same amount I'd have bought 12 or, actually, 24 here. Even so. I am finished with Belgravia. It's Battersea for me.

I scan the estate agents' windows; quietly happy I may have found the next move.

Merde.

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