Friday, 15 November 2013

I'm a loser 2. For the loser now will be later to win. (Or at least regain some equilibrium......)

Hundreds of people, mainly in the US, have read my post: ‘I’m a loser,’ maybe out of some sort of solidarity with my plight or more probably because the public can’t get enough of people falling over, so thanks for reading guys. Here’s one final update.

Firstly, for reasons which will become clear, I didn’t give the background to my trips to Britain. My 87 year old father had been diagnosed with bowel cancer, so I went in order to run things for him during his hospitalisation and convalescence. The operation went without any problems and I returned here after a month when he was starting to get back to normal, only to receive a rather hysterical phone call about four days later saying that he was at death’s door. It didn’t put me in the best of moods when the caller started accusing me of neglecting my filial duties. I’m afraid that they got it both barrels.

Secondly, we received the news that my father in law had died. Millie’s father was a charming and interesting man who had lived a very full life. He was 93, which made it a life to celebrate rather than mourn, but nevertheless a sad and stressful time.

It was thus that I got on a plane back to Britain. I had passed the previous month without my camera, which was in for repair. While I was there the first time, I got a call from Millie telling me that my beautiful Martin guitar now had a crack through the back of it where it had been dropped. Things were starting to feel like a plot from a Coen brothers film, where every attempt to rectify a situation seems to further exacerbate the problem. Suffice to say, I wasn’t a very happy bunny. To make matters worse and to paraphrase my doctor, I never seem to know when I am stressed. 

But where were we last time......? 

I emailed the airport lost property people as soon as I got to my dad’s and called them the next day. I spoke to a cheery lady and gave my name. I was absolutely sure that my missing passport had fallen from my shirt pocket as I was picking up my wallet which had fallen under my seat. My heart sank as I heard the dreaded ‘that name doesn’t ring a bell.’ With a name like mine, I know from experience and the same old jokes, that it normally does ring a bell. ‘I’ll just go and check though.’

Two minutes later she returned: ‘You’re in luck, it came in this morning.’ Finally, I had all my travelling possessions back, except for my phone, which I was pretty sure was still in the car at Marseille Airport. I passed a few days with my father who began to be his old self with each passing moment. 

Millie called from Cardiff, where the family were arriving from all points of the globe for the funeral. ‘Can you pick Sinead up at Bristol airport on the way through?’ That was no problem, my niece was coming from Sauve where she used to live before relocating with partner and family to work in Africa.

I set out with plenty of time to get to the airport, about three and a half hours from my father’s. The plane was on time and we were soon on our way the last forty or so miles to Cardiff. We arrived at her parents’ house and I helped Sinead unload her bags. The topic of conversation with the family was of course my ability to lose everything. 

The next day, where’s wallet?  No sign. I searched and double searched. Nada.  After what was becoming a fairly routine sleepless night, I decided to call the Heddlu, as we say in Wales. This time there was a much more positive response when I gave my name: ‘That seems to be familiar, one moment please.’ Pause. ‘Yes, it’s here, you can come and pick it up.’

When we arrived in Cardiff, it was dark and raining hard. My wallet was on the back seat of the the worst hire-car I’ve ever driven; a marque made famous by being driven to dry levies. My wallet must have been dragged out when we unloaded the bags. The boot, (trunk for the guys over there), was large enough to accommodate one small bag, so I had to put my niece’s luggage on the back seat. At least this time there were two of us who didn’t notice.

Someone had found a soaking leather wallet and taken it straight to the police. Inside were my credit cards, French health card, French driver’s licence, car documents, €100 in cash and the ticket for the airport car park. They were all still there, but wringing wet.

The policewoman had taken all the items from the wallet and placed them in hand towels and plastic bags. She wasn’t allowed to tell us who had been so public spirited, but said that if I wrote a card, she would send it to the finder. The message on my card was more gushing than is normally my wont, but no less heartfelt.

I also have a much improved faith in human nature.

The icing on the cake came when I picked up my guitar from the luthier. As good as his word, the repair was undetectable and strangely, the action and sound both seem even better.

We gave Millie’s dad a good send off and returned to my father’s. He was completely back to normal, with his usual abundant energy.

The last piece of the jigsaw fitted at the airport. I found my phone under the passenger seat. I do have to go back to Britain one more time at the beginning of December, when my dad has one last small hospital visit. This time, I doubt if I’ll be as stressed. I also bought a heavy winter jacket in Clacton which has plenty of buttony pockets. 

P.S For those of you who have an interest in truly revolting food, my article in the Languedoc and Provence Sun has just been published online:

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