On my patio chairs, rest two brand new plump, full-length cushions which I am requested to bring indoors in the event of precipitation. In the middle of a long and largely open-eyed night, I awake from one of those deepest and shortest moments of dreamless sleep and hear the unanticipated rain beating down. I am like an automaton: rising from my bed and rushing out into the darkness to retrieve the now dripping seat covers.
But what’s this? They are being guarded by a yellow toad the size of Wales. I look at the toad. The toad looks at me. I take a step back. The toad moves forward. I peer at my open window above the patio table and wonder whether this French giant has the wherewithal to jump on the table and in through the window. Onto my currently vacant bed. Laugh if you will. I doubt you currently wake at daylight in the company of grasshoppers of such a size that, accompanied by a few chips, could feed a starving nation for a week.
The day is sadly wasted: spent mostly in catching up on lost sleep. Even the wonderful Goldfinch cannot deter my top and bottom eyelids from a continuous meeting. In the late afternoon, I speak severely to myself. I shower, dress and drive to St Remy to retrieve my blue, salamander-ridden sarong from the garden in which I abandoned it on Sunday. Most of the O’Connor brigade have disbanded and departed for home. They have left behind one O’Connor and one yoga teacher. That formerly industrious couple have also succumbed to this uninviting day and are hiding indoors in the dark. They are watching television. They are watching English television. There’s no getting away from the fact. They are watching Jeremy Kyle. These are, indeed, desperate days.
In St Remy, there is an outdoor evening craft market. I sit outside the infamous bar-tabac and consider ordering a thirst quenching Coca-Cola. A young man is watching me. He is smoking a joint. I look at him. He looks at me and smiles knowingly. I smile back and fumble in my handbag for my notebook and pen. I start writing. The young man stops smiling and, unlike the toad, scuttles away. It’s amazing what a pen and notebook might mean to different people. He has gone but, at last, the waiter is at my side. He thinks I’m writing a review. Neither of the two will ever guess that I’m writing about toads. It’s been so long that I forget about the refreshing Coca-Cola. Unusually, for me, I order a glass of rose. The lightness of colour and taste makes it the only appropriate choice to fight the oppression. I write a few more lines and the wine appears instantly.