She Snatched My Wallet

‘De Sa Grande Amie’ is a short rondeau by Clement Marot, which I read before Lydie arrived to take me to Bergerac airport for my return to England.  It was easy to read.

My driver’s cough was worse than sometimes, but she was her usual cheerful self.  This sexagenarian woman is a stalwart character, full of fortitude, and is as wide as she is short.  She insists on placing my bag in the car herself and opens my door for me like the true chauffeuse she is.  She is absolutely reliable and always punctual.  We share much fun conversation, and she is a great teacher of her language.

The youngish woman checking us through security at the airport was so curt and brusque that I stopped speaking in French, or at all, and gave her a long, cool, stare. This was after she’d ushered me to a chair to take my shoes off, snatched my wallet out of my hand, thrown it into one of the plastic trays, and summoned the next person before she’d finished with me.  I had to retrieve the wallet to extract the passport she was demanding.  She appeared not to realise that that might have been the reason I was opening it anyway.  The elderly woman who answered the summons was expected to take off her shoes standing up, as there was only one chair.  There was actually no need for any hurry.  We were early, there was only one further customer in the queue, and I was moving briskly enough, having gone through all the motions, like taking off my belt, without being instructed to.  ‘Ok’, she said, in response to my look, her face betraying no emotion.  I did not reply.  It takes quite a lot for me to respond in such a manner.

Bergerac from planeUntil we approached England there was a clear view to the land or sea below. Only then did clouds obscure our vision.  Swimming pools in gardens around Bergerac airport seemed to reflect the wing of the plane as I watched them reduce in size as we rose. River Dordogne from planeThe river Dordogne, from which this part of Acquitaine takes its name, wound its way through the landscape. Hampshire fields from plane By the time we were descending towards Southampton and looking down on the fields of Hampshire, the temperature had dropped a few degrees, and as Jackie drove me to Minstead, I noticed that the wild flowers in the hedgerows were some way behind the French ones in their development.  Light rain spattered the windscreen as we parked at Castle Malwood Lodge.

As has become traditional, there being a dearth of Indian restaurants in France, we just had to go out for a curry on my return.  This meant a visit to Lyndhurst’s ‘Passage to India’ for a good meal and a glass each of Kingfisher.

Don’t Flap, And Keep Still

A short poem by Clement Marot (1496 – 1544) entitled ‘Plus Ne Suis Ce Que J’ai Ete’, which was this morning’s choice was rather a sad lament for the writer’s spring and summer.  That a man who didn’t have an autumn by today’s standards could write as if his love life was over, was my first reason for counting my blessings, as readers will know I often do.  That, at 70, I can feel as if I have not yet reached winter, is the second.  The writer would have liked to have been born again to serve love better.  My third reason to be grateful is that I have been given the opportunity to do so without ever having had such a wish.  My renaissance is metaphoric.

The rest of the morning was spent on the usual cleaning up.  Swabbing down the kitchen and hall tiles was left to this evening to allow for drying time overnight, and I finished off the garden this afternoon.

Taking a break outside in the sunshine to finish Valerie Grove’s biography of Dodie Smith, I was encircled by a large wasp that hovered around me for some time, no doubt contemplating whether or not I was worth a sting.  My philosophy on such occasions is ‘don’t flap, and keep still’.  I didn’t, and I did.  Eventually it flew off in search of someone more attractive.  The first lizard of the season, a larger than usual adult, ventured onto the tiles, but thought better of it as I reached for my camera.Ivy on back wall  The avian occupants of the back wall continue to frustrate me.  I know they’re in there somewhere.

The Observer described the book as ‘utterly delightful’, which it is, and Elspeth Barker, writing in the Independent on Sunday, offered the view that it is ‘a successful portrait of a powerful and original woman of devastating wit and intelligence’, with which I concur.

Three boiled eggs, slices of fig sausage, bread and butter, and an orange, sufficed for my 4.00 p.m. repast.