When Margaret heard I was to spend New Year’s Eve on my own, I found myself invited to a small dinner at her friends Danièle and Jean-Claude.
It was an amiable, low-key event, but with good food (almost as good as Margaret’s!). Poppy could not attend because they have an overexcited terrier – a rescue dog, so with no early training.
I think my days for surviving four or five hours of dinner leading up to midnight, followed by an hour winding down afterwards, are perhaps numbered. I take my hat off to the French; they have a stamina I don’t have for long meals.
Margaret and I attempted a bit of Auld Lang Syne at midnight, without great success, not least because of our inability to remember all the words. Instead, we gave in to the local practise of going round the table, kissing everybody and wishing “Bonne Année”.
What I find just as exhausting is remembering to greet everybody with “Bonne Année” or “Meilleurs Voeux” for days – no, weeks afterwards. The next day I was in Montpellier for my thermocoagulation injection. As I was wheeled into the operating room, I met the surgeon, Dr Dhenin, who held out his hand and said “Bonne Année” – I had to struggle to extract my arm from the blankets to respond. And I noticed that the woman next to me in the recovery room said “Bonne Année” to every new nurse or assistant who attended to her.