So......... I was at the French space agency yesterday
– they let me in as I had remembered my passport. A couple of weeks ago they had
issued a final warning – ‘Mr Adams, this is the last time you are coming in on
the strength of your driving licence.’
I don’t know what the problem is – it’s a
new style digitalised driving licence, complete with photo and I had a
photocopy of my passport to back up the photo recognition, as well as my own
It’s probably because it only covers me for
small motorbikes and cars; I can’t drive a Saturn Five.
I’m not sure I’d want to – I can’t really
handle all the uncomfortable stuff you have to strap into to go skiing, so I
don’t think I’d be very comfortable.
Yes, I’d like to stand on the moon and look
back at the planet earth, for a moment, but I’d prefer instant teleportation.
Laurent, whom I met on site, told me he was
waiting for the price of space tickets to drop to budget airline levels so that
he could make the trip and that he was waiting excitedly.
So logically I could wait for teleportation
Laurent told me about the bells.
They are in a church about a two-hour drive
to the north in the gentle hills and valleys of ancient limestone.
He was a bit vague on the details but it
seems that these bells ring whenever someone is in trouble at sea.
The sea is about five or six hours away.
‘Magic bells then.” I suggested.
‘Something like that’ he accorded.
That seemed pretty imprecise for a
scientific mind – one I had attributed t Laurent being as he worked in a secure
room at the space centre.
The secure room, by the way, is wired up to
an alarm system in the security department some buildings removed from where we
were. It turns out that if a door slams in a room across the corridor
(something that happens frequently if you are to believe my source who occupies
one of these rooms, and delights in having her office window wide open at this time
of the year as it encourages the breeze to enter her work area) an alarm
signals in the security room and an officer is obliged to come and visit.
‘Do you have to pay a fine if the alert is
only because your door slammed?’ You can see that my mind is more precise than
your average space centre scientist.
‘No, they are paid to do this job.’
Bruno has a precise mind.
He has a precise way to speak to.
I have never attended a conversation with
Bruno without coming away feeling totally ignorant.
He was at the opening of the Gallery
It was a long drive from the Space Centre
to the Gallery but I stopped at the supermarket half way to help my daughter
and her friend buy some of the smelliest olives I have ever had to share a car
Olively, it has to be said, but it did
nothing for my appetite - which I was saving for the sliced carrots and
cucumbers that I could dip into the dips at the Gallery Opening.
Bruno had finished dipping by the time I
He looked much larger than I remembered.
And much redder.
He seems to have expanded hemispheric-ally
His statue finally matches his
I couldn’t tell if he was red because of
the sun - it has been very hot lately – or whether I should attribute it to the
bottles of white wine that surrounded him on the pavement.
I picked up some slices of cucumbers,
dipped, had a cursory glance at the artwork – I know the pieces intimately –
and sat down next to Bruno.
Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration – this is
France after all.....
I kissed every one present twice – once on
each cheek - and someone who was very pretty three times.
She was from out of town.
THEN I sat down next to Bruno. (Yes, also, twice).
And he started talking about the geological
sub divisions of the surrounding landscape and how they had influenced the
architectural and cultural history of where we sat.
My chair was plastic so at first I didn’t
understand but then I realised he was talking about the AREA where we were sitting,
not the furniture.
‘I haven’t seen you for a long time Bruno,’
I offered in a pause in his seminar.
‘I’ve been in Prison.’
He was wearing grey – grey shorts, grey tea
shirt – and the grey and the red face suddenly made sense. He had kept the
clothes and seen the sun for the first time for a long time.
‘I work there for five or six months every
year, it’s all I can manage, it drains me.’
‘I thought you were a stone mason.’
This lead us into a fairly long discussion
about the Justice Ministry’s attempts to aid prisoner re-insertion into active
society, the government, religious tolerance and intolerance, societal pressure
to conform, the rule of the King in historical Morocco and the movements of
people, Brexit (it had to come up), his divorce, the interaction between
limestone and the local fauna, American surveillance and background security
checks, and cycling.
Nothing about art.
I reached for another piece of cucumber.
Suddenly I realised that it was getting
dark and the artist was no longer with us.
This was the first time that I had found
myself at a gallery opening when the artist had packed up and gone home and we,
the openees, were still dipping and sipping.
I went round and looked at the artwork
again, checked the prices and confirmed that there was nothing I wanted to hang
on the wall at home and then looked for the out of towner who had asked for
She too had left.
Slipped into the night, gracefully.
The memory of her long black hair, all that
And her eyes.
Her nose is cute too.
Having covered the bells, I’m struggling to
find a segue into birds or blog here. and I figured that if I rambled a bit
about this stranger something would come up.
I wanted to go over and say ‘hi, I’d like
to meet you’, but the opportunity never came.
You would think that the opportunity
presented itself when we kissed, except we never did – that was someone else.
You see, I’ve merged two different people
here, one whom I kissed, and one I would have liked to.
That sentence finished with ‘to’.
‘Two’ sounds exactly the same and ‘twice’ –
a derivative – is the number of times I have used ‘whom’ in this post.
If you don’t count that one.
Which brings me to the post.
Because yesterday I didn’t; there was a