“There’s more to life than Cogolin you know” opined Cheryl, a controversial theory from the Liverpudlian owner of Le Snack bar on neighbouring Les Prairies de la Mer campsite.
“You should go out with Rupert!” said Cheryl’s live in partner, an enormous Scouser who had a formidable appetite for coke (powdered) and beer.
“He’s got like, um, how big is it?”he hesitated, a builder’s imagination in his mind’s eye at work “ooh a shelf, about 2 foot long, with…books. You’d like him. You’d get on”.
I met the unlikely named Rupert, the local taxi driver, who knew all the back roads to Saint Tropez, a useful bit of knowledge when the main linking road (N98) from Cannes to Toulon is one long engine-busting traffic jam from June to September. He had all the security codes for the private roads see. Rupert, a pudgy guy from Portsmouth, his brain a little fried from a decade on E at South Coast raves, didn’t believe in fiction.
“I only allow reference books to be on that shelf”.
We weren’t destined for each other. He was also extremely narrow minded at Scrabble, refusing the Scottish ‘Aye’.
Janey, Cheryl and I would meet there on school days, during the long unemployed winter of 2005. Janey had a mysterious boyfriend who we never saw. We heard stories, he was building villas in Cheshire, he was busy, he was travelling, but he adored Janey. I saw a photo: he looked unfeasibly young and good looking for Janey, a raddled blonde who talked of her son, the “golf professional” and her ex-husband, the millionaire dentist. The son crashed her cars and the ex fucked off with a trophy dental assistant. Janey lived on the RMI due to a bad back and could never stand her round.
One day Janey showed me a handwritten letter from this guy, full of sweet nothings “See how he loves me!” she cooed.
After a few months of this, I finally broached the subject with Cheryl: “Erm this guy, is he in prison?”.
Cheryl was shocked “How do you know?”.
“Well who else writes letters? I mean, when we have email?”I shrugged.
“Don’t tell her!” hissed Cheryl.
Incredibly well written piece…