There are, in my life, two new era defining acronyms to add to the familiar BC and AD, to wit BS and AS, which demarcate those periods in time before and after the advent of the saviour, aka Spellcheck ( interestingly, Spellcheck has just denied the existence of “saviour” which is a bit worrying). In the ancient time of BS I remember being as an immortal in that it seemed impossible for me to incorrectly spell a word in Egnlish…and there it is….. the wax drips from the melting wings of my keyboard as I spiral down into AS, a red slash of a wound waiting to bleed beneath my failure. One click of a mouse on the bloody line and that which was Egnlish is reincarnated as English. The intimate linkage of hand, pen and paper allows a direct flow of knowledge from brain to page without the intervention of another intelligence or the inconvenience of mastering a keyboard. I have minimal hand to eye coordination which defect, at school, determined that I should be banned from the cricket pitch, where I could quite easily be killed by bat or ball, and be resigned to the river where I would become the smallest rower in the history of the school and where, with any luck, I would disappear, hopefully unnoticed, into the murky waters thus avoiding bringing any more shame on the alma mater. I mention this failing as a computer makes similar demands in that it requires my fingers to accurately type on a keyboard, obscured from view, leaving my eyes to judge that the chosen letters are appearing, as chosen, and in the correct order on a screen some distance away from my hands and my person. The tactile intimacy of pen and paper is lost but convenience is gained. Welcome to AS, where convenience outweighs intimacy to such an extent that the computer empowers me to tap out words that will allow me to share intimacy with a complete stranger whilst sparing me the inconvenience and misunderstandings that may result from a real life encounter, such as being mistaken for a fortune hunter or a white slaver, and, above all, without any misspellings. It was such a double “s”, as in the word ” misspelling”, that led me to begin this diatribe, or, more honestly, the mistaken belief that such a double “s” existed in the word “dessicated”, which of course it doesn’t: but I didn’t know that until SC, red in tooth and claw, slashed its disapproval beneath my attempt and led me to the desiccated light. Had I not decided to make the wonderful Bounty Bar Cake, that I discovered on Fork and Pixel, the packet of desiccated coconut that had lain at the back of my store cupboard since BS, or even longer, might have continued to lay therein for many more years, steadily desiccating to an irredeemable ( I didn’t spot the double “r” in that word until I saw red) dryness when all that would remain would be the plastic bag emblazoned with “Desiccated Coconut” to remind the finder of how to correctly spell that which once lay within. I suppose that’s the point of gravestones.
Nothing concentrates my mind more than nothing. After a short time, the nothing of this pale rain distorted image seen through the windscreen as I waited for something yesterday, took me away to another moment in time when I sat waiting and looking at another nothing that in its turn took me on another voyage. I have suffered or, as I now realise, benefited from day dreaming for as long as I can remember, which may or may not be very long at all as when I try to remember anything in particular, after a very short time, I start day dreaming. This time I went back to Agen.
Squinting against the brightness of the sun, out of the corners of my eyes I would, on occasion, catch a glimpse of a chateau perched high up on a wooded hill, but more often it would be the ochre colours of burnt earth mixed with the blurred shapes of olive groves close to the road’s edge as I drove fast towards Toulouse. I was already thinking of my destination, a beautifully renovated old manoir, where I would be staying for a couple of days, taking pictures and eating and drinking with good friends. Then the engine blew up. If a car’s engine is going to blow up, it’s best that the up blowing should occur as close as possible to a place which specialises in returning engines to their pre up blown condition and such was my luck on that day. After the bang, and a post coital cigarette which was allowed in those days, I and the injured car rolled to a stop in a garage sensibly situated exactly at the point where our gathered momentum finally expired. Amongst the vagaries of French car insurance I had found that the insurer was unwilling to offer a replacement car, in the case of breakdown, but would pay a king’s ransom in other forms of transport to get the insured back to his home or to his proposed destination. Of these two choices I opted for the former which entailed an over generous portion of waiting which, in its turn, offered the exciting prospect of some extended mind travel. Instead of a replacement car the insurance company proposed the following itinerary. I was to wait at the garage for a tow truck to arrive which would transport me and the car to a recognised Jeep dealer in an ironically styled, “nearby”, town where the necessary repairs would be undertaken. Once there, I would be left to my own devices for two hours as it was now midday which is the beginning of the sacred two hour lunch break. I was told by the insurance company’s agent that a taxi would pick me up later. I questioned the “later” and was duly asked why I imagined any sane taxi driver would want to work during those hours when he could be having lunch and what sort of dangerously insane person would be looking for a taxi during that time when he too could be, and jolly well should be, enjoying a lunch of his own. So I had lunch. As I finished my coffee a taxi drew up. Was I being watched or was I day dreaming? Rather than interrupt the flow by answering the question I just got into the dream and the driver of the dream took me Agen station which itself seemed to be part of a pretty weird dream.
The dark train that towered above me ( I should mention that I was not dressed as a Chinese girl) duly took me, in a first class seat, from Agen to Bordeaux where my dreams changed tracks once again. There I was guided to another train that whisked me a further 3 hours up the line to the town of Niort where a Peugeot Pumpkin, drawn by rats as opposed to Banksy, hied me some 60kms to my home. A week later I would have the pleasure of travelling the same route in reverse to collect my repaired car. I would have liked to have stopped at the restaurant where I had enjoyed lunch the first time around and to have asked them if they would serve me the same meal starting with the coffeee, onto the dessert and so on but sadly I didn’t.
I’m not well known for my financial acumen but the round trip by first class trains and taxis must have amounted to at least 8 or 900€ whereas a hire car is around 50€ per day….or maybe I’m just dreaming.
I was surprised to see how easily the Christmas spirit was able to override my foolproof anti obesity device.