28th August: Autumn has passed and winter must’ve occurred overnight as Spring, witnessed by these crocuses outside my door, was in evidence on this day which started and ended in some confusion. I am awoken at 7.30am by the piercing shriek of the telephone in my room. I stumble out of bed to quieten this unwanted intrusion. ‘Hello?’. The person on the other end is clearly under the impression that they’ve phoned the baker. I am berated for not delivering the bread and croissants. It’s always tricky sur le telephone but I think that’s what she’s saying. I ask if she can speak English. ‘Of course I can speak English’, she shouts in French. ‘But why would I want to?’. ‘Because I’m English and I don’t understand what you want’, I shout back. There is a heavy silence at the other end. Then a meek little voice says ‘excusez-moi’ and silently hangs up.
An hour later, I go for breakfast. ‘Bonjour. Ca va, ca va. Are you alone? Still?’ I feel I’ve somehow let down the woman in charge of breakfast. ‘Someone phoned me at half past seven’, I tell her by way of practising my French conversation. ‘Oh, c’etait vous’, she replies happily and launches into a tedious story about having to call the boulanger three times. And how, on the third time, she dialled my room in error. Within that ‘c’etait vous’ I detect a note of relief and a missing word or two: ‘it was ONLY you; thank goodness I didn’t shout at any of the important guests’, for example. We have a good laugh – at whom , I’m not sure.
There are reasons why some people don’t revisit a place: they’ve seen everything they want to see; it’s never the same after the first time and so on. Then there are reasons why folk like me go back time after time: I want to see it all again; there will be new discoveries; if it’s not the same, it will be better.
I climb to the highest point of Glanum. I don’t like heights and there are certain places I don’t like being alone. Like places where you can fall off a hill unnoticed. But, when I get to the top, I remember why I made the ascent. From this tiny pinnacle, looming over this small town, I indulge the widest of panoramas. From left to right I see the Cevennes, La Montagnette, Avignon – including the Popes’ Palace which is, today, sparkling in the sun -the mountains of the Vercors and the Vauclause and Mont Ventoux. And close at hand, but behind the forest, the Alps.
And seemingly in the middle of this ancient landscape, and under the biggest of skies, sits the church of St. Remy. Vincent immortalised it under the nightime stars. He had never seen it – it’s a picture from his perfect mind.
In the afternoon, I am poolside hiding behind Little Dorrit. I’m reading it on Kindle. No-one can tell if you’re changing pages on a Kindle. I’m not. I’m spying on other guests. The woman who’s staying next door to me is making a huge fuss about taking a photograph of a passing lizard. A very small lizard. She’s managed to wake up everyone who was taking a quiet siesta and who are now under the impression that a rare monster has been spotted. It occurs to me that she wouldn’t be quite so excited by the two inch long specimen had she seen the size of the thing I spotted on her wall last night.
Finally, I go to the Bar-Tabac for the aperitif and an early dinner. I want to get it over and done with asap because they’re having a musical soiree later. The Nugget Heads are guesting and I’m not much inspired by either their name or their warm-up. It’s all very pleasant and uneventful until I get back to the car park. A woman stops me to let me know that she’s lost her car. Might I know where she’s left it? Hang on – I’ll have a look in my crystal ball. I make my suggestion du jour and she leaves happily. Call me cynical but I have the distinct impression she was English and we have had this ridiculous conversation in French. Oh well, another day tomorrow.