Not what you’d expect

DSCF5272[1]4th August: In Eygalieres it’s not possible to reserve a table for lunch on Friday. I demand to know why not. There is a plausible reason: it’s not a restaurant. Ah! I was momentarily confused by the presence of a menu on the wall. I try to explain but it becomes a pointless exercise. I ask for a Coca Cola. I’m ignored. I resort to the trusted pen and notebook. The same woman appears instantly at my table with a pleasant ‘bonjour’. So, someone whose short term memory is worse than mine.

I’ve left the others back at the ranch. The missing-in-action parents returned temporarily this morning. The three rapidly aging folk who have been ‘watching’ the 16 month old since Saturday can hardly string a sentence together. The word ‘watching’ doesn’t mean the same here as it does at home. Here, ‘watching’ means employing endless and varied means of stopping the small person from screaming. The aperitif begins earlier and earlier and now arrives without request or warning.  A nursery rhyme book, written in many languages, has been discovered behind the washing machine. Peter and I drink several aperitifs whilst taking turns in reciting in Turkish, Bosnian, Indian and so on. We find it far more amusing than the bewildered child. Sometimes, when we think no-one else is looking, one of us slinks silently away to a dark place only to be faced with accusing glares on return. It’s exhausting. It’s difficult to believe this is only Day Three.

Later, I cook aubergine gratin. Karil offers to make polenta. I ask how to make polenta. Karil says she does it in the microwave but, her friend, Roberto, doesn’t approve. I remind her that Roberto ran over her foot at the market in Cavaillon so hardly has a leg to stand on when it comes to criticism. Karil says she lost her toenail. I tell Karil she’s lucky she still has a leg to stand on.

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