Here in Spain I’ve been overwhelmed by the most delicious, passionate connection – not once, but twice. And, although he was with me both times, I’m reluctant to say the connection was not with my husband.
“Home was the place you lived now, the place you lived then, the place you came from, the place you went to. The place you want to be at the end of the day, when your feet are tired and you want something hot for dinner.”
– Queen of Beauty by Paula Morris.
“This building,” I say pointing to the stunning verandah-ed manor lounging across a whole block of the main square of Tamariu, “someone’s home? Una casa?”
The waiter’s wonky eyes brighten and he nods “Si, casa.”
The first time it happens I’m hovering in front of the glass cabinet at a patisserie in Chamalieres-sur-Loire, deciding between vanilla and chocolate éclairs. I order both. The red-headed woman behind the counter has a lace-edged apron tied around her waist. She narrows her eyes, tongs poised above the perfect pastries at the front of the cabinet closest to me, and asks: “Tu es Belge?”
“Non, je suis néo-zélandais,” I say.
Her smile brightens and her tongs move closer to her, towards the largest, freshest éclairs at the back.
It feels as if there is nothing more tragic than the suicide of the world’s most loveable funny-man. How can it be that behind all of that funny was a tidal wave of hopeless, insurmountable sadness? That makes me so sad.
I sift my mind for my most vital memories of Williams. Ha – there he is climbing out of his big glowing egg in that red and silver suit doing his weird alien salute. I was only a kid, but I loved that quirky Orkan and his rainbow-striped suspenders. But just now, when I looked on the internet for pictures of him in that role it’s hard to equate the handsome young man I see with Williams. It seems I may have retrospectively transplanted Williams at his current age back on Mork. The reverse is true for my own self as I get older. When I look in the mirror I find myself dragging earlier reflections of me across the years into the present – for comparison, commendation, appeasement or scorn, depending on my mood.
Returning to La Bégude, Fred’s father’s home in Provence after thirteen years is like returning to a dream you’ve had before. Much is familiar – the tree-lined driveway, Marcia’s welcoming smile, the waft of cigarettes, the swimming pool sparkling like a patchwork piece of the Mediterranean; but much has changed: the hedges are thicker, the vines framing the doorway are more established, Marc is thinner and – holy shit – cute little 5-year-old Antoine is now a handsome young man with perfect stubble and a rosé in hand.
If there is one constant here in Castellet, Provence it is the sheer beauty (and quantity) of the food we are treated to: foie gras, roast lamb, crisp green salad and peaches drenched with red wine at Marc and Marcia’s; bowls of delicately-flavoured sardine, aubergine, tuna and goat’s cheese dips with toasted baguette at Café de France in Lacoste village; and the stunning dinner dear Caro Nigella’ed up in her kitchen tonight (more on that in a moment).