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.