So. Here we are.
In five days’ time it is my birthday. I will be 43.
‘“Vshoom. What was that?” “That was your life, mate.” “Oh, that was quick. Do I get another?” “Sorry, mate, that’s your lot.”’
That Fawlty Towers quote has always chimed with me, but now – these days – it tootles ever more vigorously. Because it does go, this life, ever so, ever so quickly.
However, it’s not over, I have heard, till the heart stops beating and the brain turns to a kind of putrid jelly, and there’s no reason either of those things should happen in the immediate future. No reason they shouldn’t happen of course, but let’s remain positive if we can.
So. In six days’ time, a new life beckons. A new life in rural France. I’ve no idea how long it will last, but – unless something goes really horribly, painfully wrong – it should last for at least four months, by which time life in an asbestos shack without any heating will most probably be made untenable by the encroaching cold. My hope, however, is that the next few months go so swimmingly that come the end of summer, we decide to install a wood burner, enabling me to stay there through the winter months, like a proper woodsman. I may even grow a beard. But we’ll see. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For the moment everything is up in the air.
My brother-in-law will be driving me out there next Wednesday. This is a list of the things which we are hoping to be able to fit into the car with us:
- a generator
- a gas fridge
- a camping stove
- a camp bed
- a one-man work station (desk)
- two chairs
- a rug
- a giant piece of tarpaulin
- a shelving unit
- a chainsaw
- a large selection of rusting gardening equipment
- a jerrycan
- a toolbox (with tools in it)
- an extension ladder
- a fishing rod
- a set of solar-powered fairy lights
- a micro irrigation system
- some seeds
- two giant tubs of masonry paint
- a bicycle
- a guitar
- a large box of books
- a laptop (with a new battery – if it arrives in time)
- a nuclear bunker-style stash of non-perishable foodstuffs
We may yet have to hire a van, or leave some stuff behind. We’ll know more after having a practice pack at the weekend. I will take pictures.
So. Over the past few weeks, I have been trying to convince certain periodicals to pay me money to write about my experiences while I’m out there. Naturally – for it is the way of this world – the vast majority have ignored me completely. Most of the people I have approached care neither for my ideas nor, presumably, my façon de s’exprimer. Ah well. I shall solider on regardless. I shall stagger though this desert of editorial disregard, occasionally buoyed by a fleeting mirage of interest, but ever intent on the oasis of well-paid patronage which I remain convinced is out there somewhere. I shall not give up. Not while there are metaphors to be stretched to snapping. Not while there is rhythm in my heart and something firm and fizzy in my cranium. Not yet.
So. Six days. Oh la vache!