I’m the gorgeous blonde in army boots with the handcuffs.
How often do you get to fulfill your fantasies? Well, OK – don’t tell me! (Isn’t life great when you just up and say what you bloody well want). BUT some fantasies just ain’t going to happen – like being a sexy magician’s assistant…….or maybe just a magician’s sexy assistant. The real shame is that my kids were not there to suffer obligatory embarrassment.
So, having traveled from my home in France to England to impart my hard-bitten worldly wisdom to my adult-lite kids in the UK for a couple of weeks, they wiped joyful tears from their eyes as I set sail back to Chateau Calin for Bastille Day on the Brittany ferry Bretagne. There I was, seated in the bar with Oscar, sipping our third or fourth organic vegan diet mineral waters, when Matt Grindley, the famous comedic magician appealed to the audience for a beautiful blonde female assistant to put him in handcuffs. Who else could he have wanted? He must have read my books. Being a magician he knew I was there!
What a gent he was. He suffered my amateur febrile fumblings to put him in chains, rolled with me on the stage before at last I assisted in his erection – of a tent, from which he escaped to mass applause. The man is a star and a trouper. I must say also that Brittany Ferries work hard to feature some top acts on their crossings. These guys are true pros who bring show biz charisma to the journey. Big Up Matt Grindley
And there’s even more performance to come. From the 18th July for one week all of my Passion Patrol novels are on sale at 99cents/99pence. OK: watch carefully. You take this cloth – you put it over enough money to buy a cup of Starbucks coffee. You pull away the cloth and Voila – Three whole sexy police suspense action Romance books. Just like that. Magic! http://www.smarturl.it/PPSeries
I have that first Wednesday insecure feeling. Looking back on previous insecure posts I see that I have rambled on about broken love affairs whilst trees fell around my ears. Just imagine – I thought I knew something about insecurity. Until a few days ago I knew nothing. That was when I could stand up and support myself on two legs. That was before the Red Cross issued me with a wheelchair and crutches. Being a believer in determinism I have to accept that since my birth and the first design concepts of the Brittany ferry “Bretagne”, I had been hurtling towards a moment of destiny. Ahead of us lay a starry night, our traditional Earth moving kiss on the deck as Angleterre slipped away to the north and a hairy Frenchman in orange overalls spraying water with a hose. As we crossed the heli-pad my leg folded under me with an agonising pop. As I lay felled by the French like Admiral Nelson at Trafalgar, I began to wonder how the crew of the rescue helicopter would be able to reach me on the treacherous gloss painted skid pan deck. I guess they carry a good supply of crutches. I knew that my Easter at home in France was not to be. Gilles cajoled and dragged me to the cabin and we summoned the nurse. She found the solitary ship’s ice pack.
On arrival in France my leg resembled a black blue and green mottled snake that had swallowed a football. Our home lay 300 miles to the south and I could not bend my leg. We decided to keep me on ice in the cabin (they pickled Nelson in Brandy – but I did not think that Brittany Ferries would supply a barrel) and go back to the UK where we live a few minutes from the port. As a Brit I can get medical attention in the UK without complication and a long stay in a hospital miles from any home lacked appeal.
If you really want to feel insecure – plonk yourself in a wheelchair as a captive patient. The following afternoon as we approached the shores of Britain, Gilles decided to take me out for a spin. Watching paralympic sport on TV had obviously inspired him into some kinda wheelchair sprint fantasy accompanied by Formula One racing car noises. He’ll make someone a lovely husband when he grows up. He does the same tricks with supermarket trolleys. You do realise just how tough it is for folks in wheelchairs. All manner of lumps and gulleys become hazards. With my leg straight out in front of me like a lance I felt like a jousting knight on a runaway horse. At the self service restaurant a chef tapped rather impatiently on his steel pots of vegetables demanding to know which I wanted. I would have told him but my eyes were about level with the tray track. “Does she like beans?” he asked Gilles.
About halfway across the English Channel the UK coastguard carried out a helicopter rescue exercise. Gilles wanted to offer me to the Captain as an authentic casualty. The red and white whirly-bird hovered above the ship while a guy dangled with a stretcher above the deck. Luckily he kept himself clipped on to his rope.
Eventually I was trundled back to the car deck and levered into the car. Some 23 hours after we had boarded the ferry we got off again at exactly the same point. I must say that all of the crew of the Brittany ferry Bretagne were kind and helpful – but I’m not so sure about the orange guy with the hose.
As for the future – well it looks a bit insecure on one leg. Much talk of quadriceps tendons and cartilage looks certain.
Emma thinx: If you’re hoping the Earth will move, find firm ground.
Oh – too brief my little trip to France. Even the problems of the great freezage did not weaken my love for my adopted home. We lumbered our possessions back into our UK rented house grateful that there were no floods, ice or power cuts. There was no heating because the modern state of the art wi-fi thermostat system had suffered an “Electronic anomaly”. And there was me thinking it just did not work. A while later the auto fire alarm system developed a “signalling issue” and activated the “tamper threshold” on the theft alarm system. Stuff is trouble. More stuff is more trouble. My stuff and jargon decoder is at critical meltdown.
I left the return booking a little late and there were no cabins on the 2300 service from Caen to Portsmouth. That meant a night in the “reclining chairs”. Deep joy! For a few extra pounds or euros you can buy a kit comprising of eye shades, a small blanket and an inflatable plastic pillow. Gilles and I gazed into each other’s blindfolded eyes and puffed into our stubby inverted nipple nozzles. My Romantic novelist DNA flipped towards a public love scene where two lovers – perhaps fleeing from her crazed aristocratic family of sword wielding knights, attempt to escape on a Brittany ferry to find love in a Portsmouth concrete housing block. Realizing that members of the family had boarded, their one chance to cement their love before death was in a reclining chair, surrounded by iPod playing bleeping electro-geeks, a snoring drunk with a body freshness issue and some leather clad English biker who wanted to talk to his mate about his chain lube. Oh yes – public sleeping is a whole new game. Luckily there was a coffee machine a and a door to the outside deck. I would have kissed my lover in the moonlight if there had been any moon and if he had woken up. And they say Romance is dead! Now – looking for a link to Pavorotti singing “Nessun Dorma” (no one shall sleep) I saw on the you-tube menu this truly inspirational moment which many of you will have seen before. Even so – please allow yourself a pure surge of surprise and joy and watch this clip. You cannot tell a book by it’s cover – except mine.
On the doorstep at the English house there was a soggy frosted parcel containing the hard copy of “Knockout”. Wow – it looks like a book that a proper writer person could have written. Rosina had ordered me a copy to proof read. Oh no – can I face reading it again?….
Emma thinx: Read to a child. You can cover a book by it’s telling.
It is snowing here in Southern England. Two issues occupy my brain. 1) Will it be snowing in the morning and will the school be closed? 2) Will Gilles and I be able to slither the car to the Brittany Ferries terminal at Portsmouth in order to cross the Channel so that we can go home to France?
Come what may I am going home! Sunday morning hot baguette and oysters for lunch with wine ….Nothing will stop me! I will crawl through the snow living on nothing but the huge cask of brandy around my neck like a St Bernard mutt. (I love dogs and always think that mountaineers should have the rescue brandy round their own necks).
There is always much controversy over reverse parking and driving skill in the benda fender gender agenda. My sexy French lover, Gilles is an executive high earning occasional car driver. I am a minimum wage full time bus driver. If he offers to drive in the snow and ice – yup, he’s got the job. Would I ever say anything…….? Do you think I would ever offer a single word of guidance…?
I am so so happy. I am home in France. It was not long before there were friends at the door, Pineau to pour and and invitations to accept. Don’t these people know that I am an artist and have to WRITE? Luckily they couldn’t care less because everyone here is an artist in the medium of smiles and humanity. The teenage kids kiss Gilles and I as friends and are respected as friends themselves. Whatever happens, mankind must not forget that we can care about one another.
Of course, it is Noel and the decorations are lit. French rural life is curious because it exists invisibly in homes and “les foyers”. Streets can have a ghost like quality. We arrived after “La tempête” and the crossing of the Channel was a churning vomitous horror. The night previous to our voyage, the vessel “Le Pont-Aven” had not been able to enter St Malo because of the storm. I guess the crew must have had a terrible experience. For this reason I will not be writing to Brittany Ferries about the rude and almost confrontational behaviour of one of their car deck marshals. This large young shaven headed character had obviously trained as a night club bouncer. When Gilles did not understand his wild impatient arm gestures, he responded by pointing at his eyes with angry stabs and then at us. Finally we just pulled up behind the car in front and got out. We do not go on these boats looking for aggro with people who are paid to help us! By the sideways nervousness of his comrades I kinda got the idea that they were a bit uncomfortable with this guy. Brittany Ferries – let me say that we pay hundreds of pounds for these crossings. WE are the customers! If any of you guys out there have Trans-Manche Ferry stories I would love to hear from you.
In the meantime here are some shots of St Savinien at Christmas. With respect to the shot below, the box on the right is if you want a delivery. The box on the left is if you you would rather avoid one.
Emma thinx: Peace on Earth? Well, it’s no good looking at me!
Well, here I am back in Blighty. As I stepped red eyed and head-ached from the car my first impression was of fallen leaves. Initially I thought of back aching raking and sweeping. Then I thought of a proper strong cup of tea and gazed from the kitchen window onto the sog and bog of damp drizzling drab which is the Sunday morning after a night on the English Channel. The pint mug of tea pulsed out into my blood and flooded me with proper thoughts of love and romance. I found myself singing in French the song “Les Feuilles Mortes”. Look- I can be a pretentious stupid cow can’t I? Actually I only know one verse that goes:
“Mais la vie separe ceux qui s’aiment Tout doucement, sans faire de bruit. Et la mer efface sur le sable Les pas des amants desunis.”
A quick translation : Life separates those who love each other/softly without sound/And the sea erases from the sand/the footprints of parted lovers.(This is deliberately not a poetic translation.The French language IS Poetry simply in itself).
In the famous Nat King Cole version in English, this is not translated. If you want to feel the emotion of this season enhanced by music there are so many versions. I have chosen one here by Andrea Bocelli. For me the visuals are a bit busy, but have a glass (or two) of red wine, turn to whoever you love and remember that life is brief and that words of love are our Spring and they they will grow until one day their fruit passes inexorably into memory.
Now – let’s talk about condoms. A while ago when I first wrote “Knockout” I pushed it out for some pre publication reviews. Generally things were OK but one reviewer savaged me for allowing the lovers to have sex without condoms. Well, actually I did not allow it because having created these impulsive passionate beings the minute I took my eyes off them they were at it without even referring back to me. She attacked my irresponsible attitude to venereal disease and the kind of example I was setting to readers who might try this kinda thing at home. I know that from a public health point of view she was quite right but I just wanted naked passion between impossibly larger than life people in a wish list world. Now, fellow scribes – tell me what you think. PLEASE. I don’t want to go down in history as the woman who poxed up the populous and chlamydia-ed Christendom.
And then there’s the subject of the tea served at breakfast on Brittany Ferries. I crossed last night from France and took the buffet breakfast in the restaurant aboard the vessel “Mont St.Michel”. As always the staff were flawless and kind. However, Gilles and I took tea and received one pot of hot water and a tea bag each. I believe the tea was Twinings. For me it was a bit pale but it was OK. There was just not enough of it. You can just about get one cup. The breakfast buffet is generous with ham, salmon, eggs, cereals etc etc etc. It is brilliant quality and value. If you order tea and coffee you get a whole pot each! We Brits need more to prepare us for life back in the UK. Dear Managing Director………
Tired and deprived of tea I turned on my lap top to write this blog and saw that a wonderful person had given me a lovely review. on Goodreads.
Emma thinx: Isaac Newton was primarily an alchemist. You can only get it right by being mainly wrong.
Do you ever wonder what you would go through to get to what you wanted? I seem to remember a game show on Japanese TV where you could win prizes by eating maggots or being drowned. If you Yanks haven’t seen this stuff check outEndurance here. This type of entertainment came to mind as I endured a night crossing on a Brittany Ferry between Portsmouth (UK) and St Malo (France). I cannot seriously fault the staff of Brittany Ferries. They are hard working and courteous. However, these night crossings are an ordeal. Because our vehicle had a roof box we were loaded last and so when we got to the restaurant there was a huge queue. Since many of the would-be diners were French, the word queue did not apply. Probably best to imagine the French Revolution and the mobs at the barricades. Since it was half term, loads of English were also on board and I’m guessing that the ship was at full capacity. We attempted to storm the self service barricades for about half an hour but gave up and headed for the posh restaurant. No tables of course. We headed for the bar. We grabbed a table and dear old Gilles went off and got pizza from a kinda cafe place. He was back in half an hour. And do you know what? Not a single guy asked me if I was on my own/would like a drink/fancied a shag. There’s nothing more pleasing to me than being fancied and offended. I was a bit miffed to be frank but that’s how life is these days for the pre-menopausal bus driver. We gobbled the food and a singer did a Tom Jones, Englebert, Sammy Davis, Tony Bennett, Sinatra, Bobby Darin medley. It was all a bit D.I.Y. so I suppose you could call it the Flat Pack. The guy was good and we all had a good old sing-along. Just imagine having to entertain folks on these ferries. The audience don’t want to be there and they’re more worried about little Wayne having run off and jumping overboard than your rendition of “Born Free”. To all the staff and entertainers of Brittany Ferries “Chapeau”. (I take my hat off to you). I’m not cross really, but these boats at peak times are just unable to cope at any acceptable level of comfort. And you pay premium fares!
After the pizza, the Flat Pack and the beer we strolled to the outer deck. There was darkness, not as an absence of light, but as a presence and a offer of anonymity. The white wake of the ship spread out in that bridal train fashion behind us. Ahead of us lay our home and I saw my man under the stars against the backdrop of the ocean. And then we kissed. Two creatures of flesh in a moment that took in the randomness of the moment and the pure pleasure of another body. If you were a passenger on that boat and saw completely inappropriate snogging by two old folk I hope it didn’t spoil your evening.
Emma thinx: If you wanna get to heaven – go out and kiss under it.
We awoke at 5am. At least there was Breakfast at Brittany’s to look forward to. I try to avoid anything too healthy. I always go for the salmon, the boiled eggs and the ham. I knew that an ordeal lay ahead. The broken down car was sitting sullenly on the car deck. They had put us with the lorries, expecting to tow us off the ship. Gilles had other ideas. He suspected that once the gearbox fluid had cooled it would produce enough friction to get us moving at tick-over revs. If we could sneak out with the trucks and clear immigration we could break down in comfort. And so it was that we found ourselves without transmission about 500 metres (that’s 546 British yards) on the safe side of the border. A security guy starts shouting and waving. We shrug in a kinda Gallo-Anglo manner. The guard approaches. “Thirty years Sir – thirty years I’ve been in Security Madame – I’ve seen so much bad parking Sir- Dear me- so much anger….I didn’t mean to shout Madame….but you have to…..so much anger Sir ….I just see so much of it. Just yesterday Madame, I was on routine patrol in the terminal building. Anger Sir- yes, a man assailed me. Frustration – that’s what it is Madame. Frustration leading to anger Sir.” The guy was an absolute gent and something of an English eccentric. We offered confusing hands to shake. Well – we are foreign.
We awaited the tow truck. The AA arrived. The car went to the Mercedes dealer. We unloaded all the gear and at about lunchtime arrived at my new home in a breakdown truck. I saw an old guy peer round the gate and then scurry away before he had to kiss and shake hands. Um – no, they don’t do that do they. He probably went off to tell the neighbours that a load of pikeys (semi nomadic scrap metal dealers and asphalt contractors) were moving in and they drive around in a lorry.
Well, the house has green grass and an oak tree filled with gorgeous black crows. It’s all quite posh really. I keep staring at the red clay bricks – I had forgotten bricks! The house is on a rental contract and Gilles will be taking the train to London. He indulged me by coming to the Test Valley so that I can see Rosina. The area looks like the sort of place where they have the Women’s Institute and the Rotary club. To be honest I feel very out of place. I’m gonna make friends with the crows. At first sight there are 2 colonies in 2 separate trees. I have missed garden birds in Charentes.
Emma thinx: Who imagined that tree you’re looking at?
The garage mechanic/roof tiler/drain unblocker/washing machine fixer/brain surgeon/lawyer/dentist are all descendants of the same gene. You have arranged to see them and you guess you’re just another Joe with a worn ball valve solenoid collapsed pipe spring widget divorce synapse enamel issue. They will have seen it all before. You are boring! And yet every time you encounter such people there is a huge intake of breath accompanied by a shaking of the head. Eventually those fateful words emerge ” Oh dear – dear Oh dear – this isn’t the normal sort of thing – dear me- this is more serious than I thought. Don’t know what we can do about this – dear oh dear- who fitted this brain/pipe/marriage/ widget sprocket/tooth?
Does this sort of thing happen to you? Perhaps I just leave things too long.
So, I arrived in England on the overnight ferry. Sat naff sat with me all the way giving me impeccable instructions in French. My wonderful 1997 Mercedes 250 diesel shrugged off her 264,000 mile history and delivered me to Brittany ferries. I slept and awoke to the gourmet breakfast of smoked salmon, boiled egg, ham and cheese. There is also a choice of all manner of juices and fibres for people who have body temples. I don’t do commercial plugs, but Brittany Ferries posh restaurant breakfast buffets are WONDERFUL. So I drove to Rosina’s place, had coffee and set off for the dentist at the little market town of Romsey. I emerged an hour later a new woman. Dear me – I was a big job. I was pinned and shuttered like concrete gate post by a most meticulous guy called Dr Thomas and his lovely assistant Julie. If you’re in the area and need a tooth job – these are the guys.
Then the desk. I collected it from my old house. England no longer seems like home but sometimes neither does France. Tomorrow is the 14th Juillet – the national day with fireworks and well – fireworks. It is a celebration of the storming of La Bastille (a Paris prison) in 1789. I could join in of course but somehow I’m kinda glad to leave it to those born to it. Elgar’s Nimrod from his Enigma Variations, the peel of church bells and the bark of a dog across the meadows this evening are my home. Sometimes I think of all those frontier guys who set out to make the USA and could never come home or know again those subtle rhythms and aromas of their own place. As I have said before, everything that we are and that we have was paid for by some poor soul.