I had very little money. I bunked on local trains to get back down to Provence. I progressed stop by stop. It was November, freezing. I’d arrived in Limoges. I was sitting outside a cafe having a smoke. This old woman comes up to me, hunched over, with dyed red hair, in her 70s. She asked me for a light, heard my accent and talked to me in English. After a bit she asked me where I was staying. I said ‘In the station, if the police don’t move me on’.
“It’s not like becoming an alcoholic will automatically turn you into a talented writer you know” I’d say irritably.
He had a new girlfriend I’d heard, from the village.
‘Tell me about her?’
‘We’ve split up’ he grinned.
‘I was a naughty boy.’
‘Another girl from the village’
We looked at each other. The village is small.
‘So you shat on your own doorstep’ I said.
An older woman came up to the table then and started to shake her head and wag her finger at Si.
He ordered another pint.
On Sunday we made our way to les plages d’embarquement near La Croix Valmer. There are some beach front restaurants serving moules and frites. It being the season, loud eurodisco tumbled across the tanning bodies; tall blue Africans wearing higgedly towers of pink cowboy hats loped from group to group selling beach kaftans; doughnut sellers, boys with summer jobs winked at girls and sung about hot beignets. A little further up the street a bar chugged with rock n roll music. Where do old session musicians retire? The south of France naturellement. A synth player with a long white Zappa moustache, a portly guitar player ripped licks worthy of Bowie and the Stones, no surprise, he’d played for them all. The sax player wore red sneakers and blew until his face was the same colour. A gaunt blue-eyed grey-haired man twanged on the double bass player. They reminded me of The Faces live, Spinal Tap on their holidays, dirty hot bluesy rock n roll. An English guy wearing head-to-toe black and proper shoes, not sandals, sang Jimi Hendrix and Van Morrison. Old ladies wore mini dresses with the insouciance and style of dolly birds from the sixties, varicose veins be damned. A man with long white hair and a red headband nodded. I remembered that the Gypsy Kings were discovered around here by Brigitte Bardot.