03 May 2006

Brief Encounter


Today, I’m driving home from Cap d’Ail with Bimbo in the back of the car. He’s had his stitches removed – goodness knows how many? Seems like dozens. Now it’s all over. He needs antibiotics for another month – so severe was the infection but he’s a new dog now.

We’re crawling along the Moyenne Corniche. Fabulous day. Lots of traffic, which slows almost to a stop. Suddenly a grey-haired man runs out in front of the car, a little dumpling of a man wearing a hand-kitted cable sweater, carrying a rucksack, sandals on his feet. He says his car has broken down and asks if I will take him to Carnoles. Well, I’m going thru Carnoles, so no big deal. I don’t normally give lifts to strangers but he looks harmless. I tell him to hop in. He tells me he lives in Nice and his car has broken down at Cap d’Ail. 'Nice dog,' he says. 'He's a chien de chasse, isn't he?' I tell him Bimbo is a Bruno de Jura. 'Dogs are nicer than people,' he says.

As we approach Roquebrune-Cap- Martin, he asks me if I’d mind driving along the bord de la mer and dropping him at the roundabout with the fountain. I tell him that I’m going thru the middle of the town and that it’s only a short walk to that roundabout by the sea. ‘Oh it’s a lovely day and you’ll enjoy driving along the bord de la mer,’ he says. I mean – get this – here I am giving this stranger a lift and now he’s telling me to go out of my way so he doesn’t have to walk but three yards. Cheeky chappie. In fact, he’s rather nervous, talks a lot – he looks after his aged mother who lives in Carnoles and frankly I don’t think his car has broken down at all. He just wants a ride home. We talk about painting – he loves aquerelles and says he admires the British water colourists. He looks like a teddy bear, he’s wearing a sweater in a rather peculiar caramel colour that absolutely does nothing for him. But hell, he looks after his mother…

We get to the roundabout and I tell him I will drop him just the other side. There is a car behind us. He doesn’t stop talking, he doesn’t get out, so I have to pull over. He gets out but continues talking. His rucksack is still in the front of the car. He keeps talking. He leans over and picks up the rucksack. He’s still talking, the door remains open. I tell him, ‘Look I have to get home to the dogs.’ Eventually, he leans in, extends his hand, which I shake and he thanks me. We wish each other ‘Bonne journée, bon continuation.’ And off he goes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you have a sign on your back or bumper sticker that says: "Have home, will accept strays".

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