Unlikely friends

Who would have thought I could have become so attached to a loud, extrovert, flirtatious man with a gold medallion round his neck, earrings and lashings of aftershave – and who had worked in the nuclear industry? Yet Bernard has turned out to be kind and good-humoured (essential when surrounded by ailing people), attentive to old ladies (older than me), intelligent, and above all highly entertaining.

He was of course the star of our karaoke evening (yes….I was there!), congratulated by all from director to cleaners. It was a stroke of luck when I somehow suggested he ate at our table. He brought laughs to Marie-Laure, back after a morphine filled week, has the devotion of a gentle, lovely somewhat handicapped man now looking forward to being visited in his residential home, was the only one to draw a solitary, somewhat unhappy musician out of his lonely contemplation of man’s intolerance – and of course rescued me from the Jehovah’s Witness.

He is going home today, to his very nice wife, Muriel. Shall we trip him up, people asked, so he stays a week longer?

Like kids in a boarding school, Marie-Laure, Bernard and I slipped discreetly outside last night to drink an illicit glass or two of champagne (goes down well with morphine and codeine) celebrating Marie-Laure’s re-emergence from her room and saying au revoir to Bernard.

This is us – with Poppy – taken by Margaret, as always generously finding time to drive to Montpellier to see me.


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