Sunday, 7 April 2013

The drive from La Rochelle

The road is not busy this morning and the radio station plays songs that bring on quiet thoughts of love. 

Inside the car, it is warm. Outside, the sun is a pale glow behind the white sky.  But it will burst through later and let me see the blue.

I drive.  Muse.  He can sing, this chap. I follow the melody and shiver at the nuances in his voice, relaxing into the random contours of the road. The bends go with me.  The scenery is familiar.  It could be the fens, flat and barren looking. 

A motorbike passes and a speed camera flashes.  This affects the rest of my journey although I try to keep it out.  Will I get a ticket?  Will the photograph show only my car?  It will not be fair.

Robbie Williams sings in French and tells me that RTL2 is his favourite radio programme.  I wonder if it is true, remembering the rising intonation, flippant or sincere?  It’s an advert!

I don’t like Bonnie Tyler.  Bette Davis’ eyes hold me for a while and I remember a film – she ran over her sister and put her in a wheelchair.  ‘Whatever happened to Baby Jane?’ I may not have remembered the title correctly.  Her voice is good.  Professional.  Bonnie Tyler.  Who would have thought I would listen with pleasure?

I come to the lights and turn towards home, pass by Ferme de Magne with its camels, and come into Nancras, where the street is narrow and you have to have your wits about you for people and cars who see you and don’t care.

I drive along the sloping avenue of trees.

Then open road again, until Balanzac and its red and white limit.  I slow and cruise through the village.  Houses flat against the road, shutters back.  Lived in. And leaving, a field, ploughed and beautiful – it always gets me, looking at the bare earth.

Past the Pepinieres and left at the roundabout, behind a parody of a van, made of spare parts, with curtains.  Bumping over the terrible road surface and past the school, the stop where my boys go to catch their bus to college.  Around the corner and into the square.  No sign of anyone I know.  The bakery is open.  Do I need bread?

Into the house and I see my husband in the garden with his chainsaw.  I do not go to tell him I am back.

Instead, I have come straight to my laptop to write about my drive from la Rochelle to take Ruby to the airport.  As I must.

I am back, but the colour of her hair and the whiteness of her skin at the check in, the warmth of her, the smell of her, keep me there, where we shared a last, casual look.

Go!  I did.  But not completely.


  1. Replies
    1. She's my daughter. Miss her so much. She teaches in Cambridge and has just gone back after a week's visit.

  2. There's nothing wrong with Bonnie Tyler. Beautifully written.