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.