Last week I had an all too short visit from my old friend Clare. It is now over half a century since we were tutorial partners at Oxford! Since then Clare has had a prestigious academic career and has for some time been Professor Clare Ungerson. (Sorry, Clare, only photo I took of you – will do better next time.)
Of course February holidays in Europe are a bit crazy, as I discovered in Italy. And March trips can be equally chancy. I took Clare to see the Cirque de Navacelles in cold grey weather, which soon became rainy and by the time we got home, was snowing! Clare, bless her, was totally relaxed.
In the evening we had the first of some intense Scrabble sessions. I have always a pretty relaxed view on permissible vocabularly, especially as I am a fan of producing words like ‘zo’ and ‘qi’, much to the irritation of another Scrabble visitor, Sara. But Clare plays the official Scrabble rules and is an enthusiastic online Scrabble player and I found some of the allowed words outrageou, for example ‘et’ (dialect past tense of eat!).
And then, miracle, the next day was gloriously sunny and warm and we went to Uzès and lunched outside at one of my favourite restaurants in the Place aux Herbes.
After saying goodbye to Clare I lunched at my favourite Montpellier restaurant and got talking to the couple at the table next to me – and the couple the other side joined in. And we talked of politics – of Brexit, Europe, London, the refugee crisis. We had the sort of relaxed, wide ranging conversation I miss here.
The next day I had an unexpected visit from Claudine, an anthropologist and old friend of Sylvia’s. I recounted my experience and she suggested I joined a monthly discussion group run by Yves. The first meeting was due yesterday – on Solitude – but in the end I was still not well enough after a brief relapse (ate unwisely at the weekend). Still, I look forward to this next month.