A Few Days In England

Sunday 29th May

I have been in the UK for a few days; more than I had planned really but threats of yet another air-traffic controllers strike meant I moved my flight from Thursday to Wednesday.  When I had booked a couple of weeks ago the cost of flights back to France on the weekend were horrendous but on Bank Holiday Monday they were quite reasonable so I booked that day.  And so I have a little time for reflection.  And a rest; our lives (supposedly retired) in France have been quite hectic lately, and will continue for a while too as we are having new plumbing work and a new kitchen installed in the next two weeks or so.

I spent Thursday morning clearing back the forest that my garden here in Walton has become.  I filled 8 garden sacks with rubbish; not sure yet how I will dispose of them but the garden is looking much better now; amazing how, untended, things just grow.  It reminded me of a documentary I watched once imagining what would happen if human were suddenly wiped out, and within a few years plants would have eaten into most people’s houses.

In the afternoon I went to Frinton and spent a while in a charity chop specializing in books and records (yes, I bought a few).  Lunch in a café and as I sat and waited for my omelet and chips I couldn’t help listening to a woman in her fifties relating in great and unnecessary detail her illnesses to the waitress.  Women never seem embarrassed talking about their bodies, intimate bits and all, even when they aren’t functioning properly; men wouldn’t dream of discussing their erectile dysfunction or piles with another person but especially not another man.  Her husband sat patiently eating his egg and chips, he was wearing a neck brace and said nothing; I am sure he had heard it all and many times before.  Then another woman, grossly overweight came in and began telling the waitress, who by this time I suspected of being some sort of counselor or maybe a doctor in disguise herself, of her mother’s admittance that day into A. and E., again relating her symptoms without a shred of embarrassment, followed by a litany of her own suffering.  I looked out of the window and watched as several people glided past on mobility scooters or were leaning heavily on their partners each step seeming difficult.  And I began to think that there was something wrong with the English.  They are all ill, or seem to relish being ill, which may be an illness itself.  In France you rarely see people in wheelchairs or mobility scooters, or appearing to be grossly overweight.  Many more smoke, and the pharmacy is the busiest shop in town and they drink wine with most meals and a lot more bread than we seem to in England – but on the whole they seem healthier.  Who knows?  Maybe it is all my perception.

Anyway I worked on Friday and now have the expanse of the weekend to deal with….I am sure I will think of something to do.