My Shoes In Particular Were Unpleasant

To Spain, to see Rodrigo, about the car, he might've had the spare part, he didn't, he shrugged, so we went to other place, who did, and negotiated some kind of tax-free cash-only pick-it-up-later deal. Back in France for lunch. Girls sit on folding chairs under the motorway bridges and at the truck stops. The border is unmanned, except for when it isn't.

A few days of rain and the river went turbo. Brown and deafening and slurping the footbridge. New thin waterfalls came out to join it and washed rocks into the road. Helmets were considered. Trees went missing.

After that the wind, snapping branches and bullying phone poles and leaving chestnut mess.

A walnut fell on me, in its fat green jacket, right between my shoulderblades. I looked round thinking there must be a maniac throwing apples and laughing, then I realised I was collecting walnuts, during walnut season, from under a walnut tree.

Back to Spain, for the part. It's surprising how much Spanish they speak. Vishnu did most of the talking, and also all the rest of the talking. I nodded and furrowed my brow and drove round the scrapyard, past the sunken vans and the conefaced three-legged creosote dog, and they loaded the part in the back and the car went considerably slower.
In reception waiting for the woman to get off the phone so we could pay, Vishnu went outside for a piss, directly under the camera that was linked to the screen I was looking at.
We paid and went back to France.

Resurrection Pie

Donny picked me up on the hill and we went through the gorge. He was spending Sunday in his car with The Clash. He went dff-doosh along with the drums in Police and Thieves, explained that he was a physio in Amelie and it was boring, he was doing it to get the money to go off and do Chinese medicine, and the difference between Joe Strummer's voice and Junior Murvin's, in the original, produces a delicious contrast in his mind, when he thinks about it. Dff-doosh. I said it's good. I had the window open, I could've leaned out and licked the rockface. Donny chuckled and spoke in English:
- Fuck your mother!
I laughed. He laughed.
- Aha! I don't speak it very well but I am remembering now certain things.
The sun was behind a mountain. He dropped me off opposite the cascades and turned around and waved goodbye.
Then market day, in Ceret, rhymes with beret. We were up before the sun with a van full of bread and jam. A half-hour drive down the gorge passing hunters on their way up.
The market is through the streets and under the trees. Grey trees, taller than the houses. Most people are selling by eight thirty. Cheeses From Another Time, mushrooms, tablecloths and tapes. For your cassette deck, you withering relic. This was an excitement because there's a tape player in my caravan/space pod. And it wants feeding. But all they had was Elton John, The Police, Jean Michelle Jarre. That kind of thing. The Eagles. I gave up.
Picasso was there. For a while, a while ago, while he was alive. There's an A4 sign about it. And a street with his name. Nothing tacky. They've gone all out on gutters, a foot wide and shin-deep and possibly polished.
By five past two everyone's packed up and gone into the unstoppable lunch. I had a drink in a café. The waiter opened the bottle one-handed over his shoulder, I pretended I'd seen it before.
A dizzy squealing sound came up the road slowly. Six men in white cheesecloth shirts, wielding diddle-doo tubes and goblin pipes and one had a sort of canvas-stomached wooden goose he was squeezing and blowing into, I couldn't tell which part of the noise was his. It was an Animation Musicale, re-enacting and advertising a sequence of events from back when that kind of noise was the golden bomb. Fliers were handed out. The men were on a one-day tour of the region, to be finished with a spectacle. It began to rain. No one felt like applauding. I said woo but they couldn't hear.


The rocks in the gorge have a lot of faces, mainly gaping cubist gargoyles. It was a week before I saw one, then they all clicked in at once on the walk back up from Amelie after a pizza and news binge. It was two days after the full moon and there was plenty of light, no cars or people. Without a torch or moon it would be easy to imagine every dark outline was a ferocious hog and wonder blindly about nightsnakes, murder rates and rockfall. But there was enough light to read by if you really squeezed your eyeballs.
I finished Moby Dick. It has whales in it, being butchered and juiced, it gets very technical.
Two weeks on a vegetarian diet and my thoughts have gone meaty. Meat swims through my dreams and tries to communicate, then when I try to respond it bounds away like a goat down a mountain. Meanwhile, cheese, emboldened, strolls in at nine a.m. and hangs around for twelve hours, smug and creamy and saying things like one more slice, or two, grate me, put me in a sauce. But at night it shuts up.

Friday is for baking. We do four million loaves in three ovens, I put in trays of four or eight and remove them when they're done, put them on the racks overhead, repeat for three hours. Inbetween loads collect walnuts from next to the river, read a bit and tell the cat to fuck off. Hairy bread is not on the menu.

Ken lives down the road and round the corners for half an hour and is from four miles from where I'm from, which is about a thousand miles away. When he was my age 2010 was astrotopia, a permanent cloudhouse swishnugget leisurefest. It turned out a bit differently. He goes to Spain every week for less quiet.

Amelie on a Sunday. The bars put out extra chairs for the after-church crowd, one drink and then home, t-shirts on and a warm wind in the Sideshow Bob trees. The only English paper is the Telegraph, it's not an option. The French ones still murmur about the gypsy expulsion, you can't deport people based on their ethnicity, except they did, and gave each one a few hundred Euros plus extra per child, if they'd sign a paper saying they were leaving voluntarily. Next year the face-veil ban. While I was reading this a short-haired round woman poked my shoulder and asked if I spoke French.
- A bit.
- Can you help me move something into my apartment?
So I went round the corner to a van where her bad-backed husband sat outside with beige teeth and a grey wobbling face, he watched us unload the van, there wasn't much. We lugged a fat armchair and a mattress and a bed frame and two sacks of breakables and a dining table up the stone stairs and into a small four-room apartment that smelled of bitter cheese. She sweated and bitched the whole time except for the occasional wheezing rest, during which a tiny quivering dog called Phil would repeatedly smash his face into our groins.
She gave me twenty euros and we had a drink.