July 20: When I was sitting in the pool yesterday, two young lads arrived and said hello. They were around 16 or 17 years of age and reminded me of slightly older versions of a couple of boys that were here last year. I carried on reading. Those two retrieved a frisbee and a ball from the dark recesses behind the pizza oven and proceeded to do what young lads do with a frisbee and a ball.
This involves one lad being on one side of the pool throwing said items at his pal who’s on the opposite side. There are two other rules to this game, one of which necessitates a lot of screaming and whooping. The second rule is that, although the pool and surrounding area is vast, and there were no other onlookers apart from me, it’s essential to play the game as close as possible to anyone else in the vicinity. Mindful of my wound, I removed myself from the water and commandeered one of the twenty free sunbeds. A third rule apparently states that those who are not in the water must not be made to feel ignored. The two young lads closed in. Much later in the evening, I could still hear those two making their strange animal like noises. It’s not a problem, but I reflected that every time I come here, there seems to be young lads of an age whereby whooping is an integral part of well-being; a mildly irritating coincidence. This morning, I was greeted by their mother who also looked like a woman who was here last year. That’s because she was here last year as, of course, were those two young lads. ‘Hello’, she said pleasantly. ‘Alex told me you were back’. I wish I had a well-functioning memory.
Yesterday evening, the heat having built to an almost unbearable intensity, we were promised an overnight storm. The rain stayed away and, apart from a single and distant growl of thunder, so did the storm. A sleepless night of tropical proportions followed. This morning, in brilliant sunshine, I drove to Chateaurenard in search of a chicken. On arrival, the heavens opened and I was trapped in the car thinking about the two umbrellas that have been thoughtfully left in my cabanon. Eventually, of course, the rain ceased and the chicken was procured. The chicken purveyor demanded to know whether Madame preferred ‘ordinaire’ or some other specimen whose provenance I was unable to determine. So much for my brilliant command of other folk’s language: with hindsight, ‘some other type’ clearly means one that is not ancient, dry and withered. Very disappointing.
Passed an industrious couple of hours in finishing Diary of a Nobody and making inroads on the third chapter of the interminably tedious proofreading project I have undertaken to partly finance this sojourn. I am already heartily sick of the political situation in Indonesia. Decided to reward myself by beginning a new book – Red or Dead – by or in the pool. I’ve either uploaded or downloaded said volume onto my hated Kindle which I only use on holidays for a variety of reasons that are nearly as boring as the political situation in Indonesia.
Spent ten minutes poolside trying to locate Red or Dead but couldn’t seem to get past the final chapter of Our Mutual Friend which I read here last year. During these fraught minutes, some sort of meteorological disturbance occurred of which I was unaware until I realised the sky had turned black and a wind of mistral-like proportions had arrived from nowhere. A small boy who had been swimming happily in the pool a few minutes earlier was, along with yours truly, covered in a veritable shower of unwanted flotsam that was raining upon us from the surrounding trees. The small boy, who had previously ignored the old woman tapping furiously on a Kindle in search of Bill Shankly, looked at me for some explanation. My explanation was to pull an even stranger face, shrug my shoulders, gather my belongings and leave. The small boy ran after me. ‘Go away small boy’.
And so the storm finally broke. Back indoors, I began with good intentions of using the time to continue with the bloody Indonesian situation in the company of a plate of yellow plums. However, the electricity was cut and, plunged into darkness, there was no alternative to taking yet another nap. A woman of my age who has to go to work clearly has a lot of catching up to do in the sleep department.
I’m back outside. The man in the gite opposite my patio is busy teaching his baby to say ‘I am a naughty boy’. Doubtless, the child will grow with a minimal sense of self-worth.