When I first realised I’d got the job at Travel Horizon back in the May 2010, little did I know the months of teeth-gnashing, frustration, head-banging, pidgin French and general craziness that would ensue. Of course I was über excited about the prospect of living in Aix en Provence. Who wouldn’t be? Sunshine, fine wine, great food, real coffee. What’s not to like? If you’ve never moved country before, though, be warned. It’s an interesting experience. I think I rather naively believed moving to France would be un morceau de gâteau. It’s in the EU right? It must work pretty much the same way as the UK. Yes …. Anyway, first things first – before the off.
Preparation: a busy August
I left work a month earlier than I needed to so I could completely redecorate my flat and get it into a fit state for renting. That was a knackering month – not the least because I was working 15 hours a day on my place whilst blundering back and forth to and from IKEA, Homebase, and various hardware shops and suppliers like a total muppet. No fun. On top of that I was taking some French classes in a feeble and half-assed attempt to memorize some key phrases before I left – I should have just learned to shrug and blow raspberries, far more useful as it turns out. Added to that Writers’ Bloc were very busy – it being Festival month – and I was trying to cram in as much festival stuff and performances as I could. So by the time came for the off it was actually blessed relief.
A fishy fairwell:
I had a fish. A goldfish. This thing just kept on living. I had the same fish in the same tank when I moved into my flat in 2000. He looked like a piscean Elvis or Sly Stallone. His mouth was all squint – it’d been broken years ago. A Scottish goldfish. The dumbass critter had a habit of ramming its face into its stones on the bottom of the tank to sook food and algae off them. They sometimes got stuck. Usually he’d manage to spit the wedged pebble out after a while, but sometimes not. Then I had to delicately tease the thing out with a bent paper clip whilst holding the fish in a wee wet hand towel. Ridiculous, but it seemed to work. 10 years later the little fella was still going strong but I didn’t fancy his chances surviving a journey to Aix in a f*ck-off big van. Hell, I’m not even sure I fancied our chances. So one night in August in the wee small hours I clambered over the fence of a certain well-know financial services company that happened to have a big pond outside full of goldfish, and gave him his freedom. I really hope he’s still alive and doing well. I’m sure there’s a metaphor here.