22nd October 2010
I haven’t gone away, you know. Although I should have. And tomorrow I will definitely be gone. Meanwhile I’m sitting on the balcony feeling pretty shitty about the fact that this is my last day in Collioure.
At 9.30 in the morning I start leaving France. I will be pointing my car in the direction of the maelstrom of misery that currently constitutes the island of Ireland and I will be heading, slowly, towards its centre. Why? Because I’ve already stayed 2 months longer than the originally planned 6 month period and the time has come to keep my promises and tend to my responsibilities.
As if mirroring my own upheaval, France has been in a bit of a tumult over the past month. Protests against reforms which would move the retirement age from 60 to 62 have gathered momentum; blockages have been imposed on oil refineries and strikes have been accompanied by outbreaks of violence in some places. But the event that has caused the most commotion in Collioure is the violent storm which turned the place upside down a couple of weeks ago.
I am currently living on the third floor of a village house just across the road from the sea, which I can enjoy from my balcony. As we all know, the sea has many moods but it is predominantly disposed towards calm in the relatively sheltered coves of Collioure.
However, when the storm started the sea turned so angry that it became a different beast altogether. Waves reached previously unknown heights and violently lashed the castle walls and any other impeding surface. Boats were sunk, opportunist surfers were chased ashore and spray was everywhere. Meanwhile, thunder and lightning competed with the sea for dramatic effect and the heavens unleashed a torrent (much of which landed in my bed at 4 o’clock in the morning, having found a spare space in the roof) which was driven full-force by the screaming wind into anything that moved. It was an outstanding storm – exciting, savagely wild and deeply tormented. It even hit the national news!
Wild as it was, unfortunately the storm was also dangerous. A gentleman of the locality was drowned by the high seas when attempting a swim in the storm at 3.30 in the morning.
For my own part, I had arranged to have Sunday lunch in a local restaurant with some friends who live in Spain and, in spite of a treacherous drive, they arrived just in time to rescue me from my thoroughly wet accommodations. After a lovely meal, we swam up to Les Templiers for a post-prandial. Our clothes were so saturated at this stage that we had to stay in the bar for quite a long time waiting for them to dry. Which was okay, because we were quite diverted by the pig.
Yes, the pig. Like many people that day, his owner had taken shelter in the nearest bar and ‘pig’ was deposited on the floor and left to fend for himself while his owner commenced to prop up the self-same bar with his mates. Something like being the girlfriend of a rugby player, I should imagine.
So, while his owner totally ignored pig’s existence, the rest of the people in the bar were quite exercised by this cute little thing with the sniffing snout. I’m not that enamoured of pigs myself but after a couple of hours sipping wine he really was the most beautiful creature you ever saw!
I did take pictures but they seem to be a bit out of focus.