The hills are alive

30th September 2010

I can’t believe it’s been well over a month since my last post. Blame the weather, the internet or, even, blame it on the boogie. But don’t blame me. I am, after all, getting on in years and am entitled to procrastinate if it gains me a little respite from the cares of the day.

Yes, I know I was supposed to leave France at the end of August but that’s where procrastination becomes a positive force. My six-month sojourn, which started on March 1st, has now become an 7-month sojourn owing to the fact that I just didn’t bother to go home.  And the news from the old sod is making any voluntary attempt to make the return trip seem more crazy by the day. The weather is crap, the banks are in crisis, the government is being run by a hobbit with 10 chins, and
we, the people, are expected to cough up gizillions of euros over the next 4 years in order to pay for the debts left by the corrupt practices of the banks and the property developers.  Blood-boiling stuff.

The trouble is, I have to go back to earn a crust even if I am only going to be left with the crumbs after contributing to the pay-back. So…the new departure date is the end of October. Unless, of course, anyone wants to send me a cheque on a monthly basis to support my artistic endeavours? I thought not. Bring back patronage, I say.

I have moved back to Collioure since last I visited these pages and it’s like coming home. My old fisherman’s cottage wasn’t available but I found, initially, a house on the more touristy side of town which I inhabited for 2 weeks before coming to my final resting place, back in the Fauborg area.

The house was old, and a bit dark, but comfortable. The only drawback was that the street outside was so steep that it had steps all the way to the top. Needless to say, I had to stop for a long pant at various stages of the ascent, a practice that became quite dangerous during the course of my stay. You see, the soldiers (yes, they’re still around – turns out they’re trainee commandos) live in the fort near the top of my very narrow street.  I was first alerted to the strategic importance of Rue de la Butte when all of the liquid matter involved in my petit dejeuner one day began to tremble and a thunderous sound shook my windows.

The source of this noise turned out to be commandos – at least 100 of them – running down the street quick-smart, with an officer barking at them like a demented sheep dog. Thereupon commenced two weeks of soldiers running down the street at all hours of the day and night, and soldiers running up the street at all hours of the day and night. The down run was generally fairly fast and furious, while the up-run was a sorry sight. Those poor dears had obviously been dunked in the sea, fully clothed, before being laden down with more equipment than your average two-humped camel could safely handle. And the officer timed their progress as they climbed the steps dripping  sweat, water and the will to live all over the street. Their over-burdened backs ensured that foreheads were close to touching the slippery steps ahead and it was hard not to weep for their suffering.

Mind you, my initial sympathy was tempered somewhat by the fact that I couldn’t get any of them to agree to give me a piggy back to my front door following my own expeditions downhill. I mean, when you’re that broken are you really going to notice an extra burden or two?


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