annanotbob2's Diaryland Diary


At the age of fifty-seven

I've been doing good on the distractions - until I sit down here to write and it all wells up, but no.

I've spent a lot of time painting, from photos, which Younger Daughter has just informed me is Very Hard. She recommends copying other people's paintings if I haven't got it in me to go and paint outside.

I don't offer these pics, by the way, with any sense that they constitute good painting. I just like seeing how I've progressed since doing the Artist's Way course, and allowing myself to do lots and lots of bad drawing and painting as the only possible precursor to the possibility of doing anything good. That was ten years ago, at the age of forty-seven - ooh, that just made me think of Lucy Jordan, who "at the age of thirty seven/ she realised she'd never/ ride through Paris/in a sports car/ with the warm wind in her hair" which is one of the most consoling songs ever, when all seems dire (although I must admit I've never listened to the rest of the lyrics as those ones send me off somewhere else and now I discover that it's quite depressing. Jesus - I've been listening to that for over thirty years and never heard the rest of the lyrics. Yikes.).

But when I first heard that song, when I was knee-deep in nappies, I had already ridden in a sport's car through Paris, in 1976, at the age of twenty-two. The wind in my hair was bitterly cold, but it was a January dawn and the streets were empty and sparkling with frost as the manager of a long-distance lorry firm drove me from the depot to the railway station.

I was trying to get to Madrid (and sweet, sweet Jose) but had fucked up the travel details and it was only after the ten pm ferry had left Newhaven that I discovered that Dieppe would be closed when we arrived at 2 am. No trains, no sleeping in the station or the ferry terminal, everyone chucked out into the cold winter night. Luckily, after a mere moment or two of utter panic (I only had about a fiver on me, couldn't afford a b&b), I walked into a lorry driver, blurted out my woes and he gave me a lift to Paris.

We had to take a detour to Rheims to deliver the medical notes of one of his colleagues to the hospital where said colleague was hovering between life and death for reasons I no longer remember. He said he'd take me to the depot in Paris as someone would be bound to be going to Madrid and I'd be able to cash in my train ticket.

It was dark all the way to Rheims. All I could see was the small strip of road in the headlights, from way up high in the cab. When we reached the hospital, I climbed into the bunk behind the cab, rolled and smoked a small joint and fell asleep. I knew that theoretically this was risky behaviour, but the driver seemed just an ordinary working bloke, and what else was I going to do?

I woke up just as the sky was starting to lighten, in the depot, full of looming, intercontinental articulated lorries, and followed the driver into a steamy prefab hut, where loads of bleary-eyed blokes were smoking fags and drinking coffee. They all stopped talking and watched as my guy went to the desk and spoke to the manager in rapid and unexpectedly proficient-sounding French, obviously telling my tale, as all eyes moved from him to me, and then to the boss just as I recognised the word 'Madrid'. Bossman looked through the papers on his clipboard and said a name. The eyes all settled on a mild looking bloke, whose own eyes showed a rapid and disturbing flash of something nasty, but the boss immediately said, "Non!" and I was relieved to see that my guy and most of the others were in tacit agreement. There was a flurry of conversation then my guy said in English that no one wouldn't let their granny go round the block with him, the only driver heading for Madrid, but that the manager would take me to the station if I wanted.

I probably said the seventies version of 'whatever', as I was a particularly ungracious person back then, and I wasn't remotely interested in the sights he went out of his way to show me.

But whenever I hear that song I remember that journey with retrospective pleasure and gratitude and know I've had an adventurous life and it's not over yet.

11:41 p.m. - 15.10.11


previous - next

latest entry

about me





random entry

Jan 21st - 22.01.20
Jan 20th - 20.01.20
Jan19th - 20.01.20
Jan 18th - 19.01.20
Jan 16th - 17.01.20

other diaries:


Site Meter