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Ruff crossing

September 16, 2014

Upon reflection, it was stupidly optimistic.  I had delayed our departure to France in order to play cricket in the Sussex Seniors annual New Forest tour. Naively, I had come to expect that the almost 6 weeks of decent weather that we had enjoyed in Arundel up until that decision was made – in the middle of last month – would last through to the end of August. The ferry departure was rearranged and hotel and logistical arrangements were made, to enable me to play a last few games of cricket before our return to Valbonne.

As I sat down, having made the changes to our late summer itinerary,  I caught sight on the TV of Holly Green, the daughter of the Reverend Jeff, who is now a BBC TV weather girl. His surname is not Green, and, not myself having, to my knowledge, children out of wedlock, this fact has always confused me, but I am sure he will tell you the The Lord works in mysterious ways… She was warning her viewers about the tail end of Hurricane Bertha, which was due to hit the UK that weekend.

Wind and rain duly arrived and the shorts were packed away, replaced by normal UK summer wet weather gear, and sweaters. Surely, I thought, it will pass and the cricket tour would be unaffected? That is where misplaced optimism ran rife. Booking in to the Burley Manor Hotel, aware that the first two games of 4 had been cancelled due to rain, there were still 2 matches left. Again, hopeless optimism was dashed and for the first time in 20 years the whole tour was cancelled due to the weather.

As I began writing this, I was aboard the Normandy Express, the fast ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg, which was whisking us south to France, and frankly, it could not go fast enough to satisfy me. There is a double edge to this. The weather was still foul with a gale blowing and rain sheeting in sideways, and the crossing was very bumpy, which means that Banjo, that dangerously awful canine, who survives under the Protectorate that is That Nice Lady Decorator, should be, well, sick as a dog (did you see what I did there?). I swear that when we got back to the car and I asked him how was his trip, he said “ruff ruff”.

Jude "where's my Baileys" O Sullivan in customary pose

Jude “where’s my Baileys” O Sullivan in customary pose

The 10 day Arundel Festival had passed in the usual haze of beer, music and culture, well, not that much culture if I am honest. We did manage to see some theatre from the Drip Action team and went to see Privates On Parade at the wonderful Priory Theatre in Arundel, had a look at the Gallery Trail, but mostly it was spent at the Jubilee Gardens stage bar, the Red Lion, the White Hart and the Kings Arms. I think we must have gone home from time to time but not that I recall clearly. I do remember that before we left, Simon “who ate all the pies” Barrett came to stay, and that we had to stage the annual reopening of the double doors between our kitchen and living room, one of which remains resolutely closed when he is not in residence.  He is a touch too wide to squeeze through just the one like normal people. He did however arrive with a good stock of Montechristo no 2’s, the finest cigar known to man, and a couple of bottles of  St Emilion Grand Cru, so he is always welcome.

So now, the late summer beauty and warmth of Provence lies ahead, but my determination to have a quiet, reflective period of relaxation and temperance before continuing my work promoting the services of FC Exchange was immediately undermined by the acceptance of an invitation to go to Roly Buftons afternoon curry party less than an hour after we expected to arrive back in Valbonne. I need to lay in some liver salts (I won’t be laying in them stupid, I will be swallowing them…).

And so, the Provençal summer party is in full effect. As I finalise this polemic (note to self; is that a collective noun for a rake of Irishmen?) prose, and with That Nice Lady Decorator insisting on giving the guardian next door an eyeful by sunbathing naked, I made the mistake of suggesting in jest that her very pert white arse could be seen from outer space. With the benefit of hindsight, whilst I sit in the casualty department, this was a quip to far.

Chris France

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Tony permalink
    September 16, 2014 12:15 pm

    Nice to see you back Chris!


  2. Rev. Jeff permalink
    September 16, 2014 12:56 pm

    Banjo and Chris had a row,
    As they stood man and dog on the prow,
    Snarled Chris ‘You must learn,
    That your place is the stern’,
    ‘No it’s not Banjo growled, it’s the bow……wow !!


  3. Rev. Jeff permalink
    September 16, 2014 5:10 pm

    You need to get the blag up and running again on a daily basis. You’ve had an artistic break to re-charge the batteries and it’s time to get back to work, I miss the insults !!


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