1: South of France

by Jane Carnall

This is a test. I am alone in a hotel bedroom in the South of France and the phone rings and it's my best friend since we were both teenagers, though there was a hiatus in the middle when she wasn't my best friend at all. This sounds like a dream but it isn't. Here I am: and she really did ring.

I had an uneventful afternoon but a hectic morning: paid my VAT (or filled in the form saying I already had), paid my phone and most of my electricity, got my laundry done, did some essential shopping, and walked very fast back to 47 Foxhill Road. Why? Because I had booked a taxi for two o'clock, and there was only one of me and half an hour to pack everything. The only thing I forgot was my scarf, and it doesn't feel as if I'll need it.

Then I checked in and was swept into privilege: the business-class lounge with the free drinks, the immediate entry to the plane, the drinks and free papers on the plane. I read Han Suyin. (I also had to dash back to post all these cheques plus twenty envelopes to Keep the Clause so as to cost Brian Souter 4. A fleabite. Nevertheless, if enough of us do it, a significant fleabite.)

I read Han Suyin and ate pasta and salad, and was one of the first off the plane, privilege again. And found a taxi (with a friendly taxi driver who eventually figured out where the Arc Hotel is) and finally got here. At nine -- eight my time. I have a cold. My ears have still not properly popped. My throat hurts. There is no kettle in the room, so I cannot make myself a hot cold remedy. Silly: could I make myself a cold hot remedy? I am on the ground floor -- I was on the first floor last time, in June, and it was so hot I took off all the blankets. Tonight I added an extra blanket, a brown one, soft and silky.

I will live in this room for twelve nights. I have six books, one of which I have just finished. There is an English Jackie Collins upstairs. For desperation!

I also, thanks to Dave Langford, have the laptop on which I am writing this, and resolve to write at minimum 500 words a day. Every day. Otherwise it was not worth it. And it is. To be able to write! I toast.

I left my room to find supper and saw someone's room service tray lying unattended with most of their bread left. Like a starving person I picked it up and went back into my room. I haven't eaten it, and may not, but if my throat gets worse I will want something that can scrape it clean. I have Ryvita, oatcakes, and bagels. I have two tubes of veggie pate, and a number of packets of mustard nicked from Safeways where I had lunch this morning. I remember from when I travelled into France to spend a couple of weeks in Paris with Cat, too broke to think of buying food on the journey, I would eat Ryvita with veggie pate, and season it with mustard from the cafe on the ferry. I have dates, too.

Good night.

557 words

6th February 2000

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