The Barefoot Blogger will celebrate 10 years of expat life in Uzès in September. If ever anything, or anyone, made an impression on me during this new life event, it was Geoffrey Brown. You know Geoffrey if you have followed the Barefoot Blogger since its beginning. His stories and our adventures fill this space, especially during the early days.
Please join me in celebrating his life and our friendship through this eulogy presented at services for Geoffrey in Nimes on August 28, 2023.
Geoffrey Brown: Uzès Legend
Today, we gather here to remember and celebrate the life of Geoffrey Brown, a legend in Uzès who graced our lives with his vibrant personality and willful spirit. As we reflect on his journey, we find ourselves wrapped in a tale of three acts that encapsulate the essence of Geoffrey’s uniqueness – the Broad Black Beret, his cars: Alés, Sally, and the Missing Mustang, and Beaujolais Day.
Act One: The Broad Black Beret
Picture the scene: a blazing summer day, nearly 90 degrees (32 C) in the shade, and there Geoffrey stands sporting his signature style – a broad, black beret perched upon his head. A symphony of black suit, vest, tie, and a crisp white shirt wrapped around him, and those giant headphones tuned to Led Zeppelin. An art gallery in Uzès was the backdrop, and destiny brought us together. And though words were few, fate had plans for us to meet again.
The next day, I ran into Geoffrey; this time, he was sporting a pinstriped suit, a canary yellow shirt, and a jaunty straw hat. This was a man with over 60 hats, a maestro of flamboyance. Our conversation flowed like old friends reconnecting, and it was here that the beginning of our adventures together began.
A clue that Geoffrey was not an “ordinary” man was that he lived in a most extraordinary house. When he led me down the cobble-stoned street to his four-story stone house, I noticed immediately that it was decorated with posters “to ward off would-be intruders,” he said. The treasures that lay within made Geoffrey’s narrative clear. The collector’s haven where he lived was a sanctuary of art and ceramics. As we delved into Geoffrey’s tales of life in London, his passion for pottery, and his ancestral lineage that traced back — supposedly — to a showgirl grandmother and a circus lion-tamer grandfather — it became obvious to me. Geoffrey’s flair was no accident; it was in his blood.
Act Two: Alés, Sally, and the Missing Mustang
Geoffrey’s stories had a way of turning reality into a rollercoaster. There was Alés, the tattered Citroën loaned to me for French road trips, and Sally – a red Mustang with racing stripes. But it was when Geoffrey mentioned Sally’s missing twin Mustang that a new adventure began.
A meeting with a “bailiff” was part of this saga, set in a place reminiscent of an Alfred Hitchcock film. Strings of complications tied us into knots, leading to unexpected bills and unforeseen encounters with the French gendarme. The missing Mustang was never found, and my bond with Geoffrey deepened into a financial arrangement that gave me Sally to run around in until her luck ran out. And that’s another story.
Act Three: Beaujolais Day
Geoffrey was a master at creating extraordinary experiences, and my first Beaujolais Day in France was no exception. The promise of adventure led us to Blauzac, a town near Uzès, for lunch – “authentic” French country food, as Geoffrey described it. The atmosphere, the conversations with friends old and new, and the laughter that bridged the gaps between languages led us well into the afternoon.
Geoffrey’s contagious enthusiasm didn’t stop in Blauzac. It led us on a quest to taste the new Beaujolais Nouveau in as many places as possible that night. Our journey took us to wine caves, cafes, and bars in Uzès, where glasses clinked, and laughter echoed into the streets. Through these experiences, I learned that life is what we make of it – an adventure to be embraced, an opportunity to understand others, and an avenue to love one another.
Conclusion: A Life Well-Lived
Geoffrey Brown was more than a man; he was a creator of memories, a purveyor of unique experiences, and a friend who welcomed us into his colorful world. As we remember Geoffrey today, let us carry forward his spirit of flamboyance, his zest for adventure, and his love for his friends and life. May we find inspiration in his stories,
Geoffrey leaves a legacy in these three acts – a testament to his extraordinary life, the joy he spread, and the connections he fostered. Let us celebrate Geoffrey’s life with sincere fondness, heartfelt laughter, and a renewed commitment to finding moments of joy and fulfillment in each day, just as he did.
For Uzès tales with “Geoffrey,” follow the links in the blog post and On YouTube