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Lyons to Swindon

Last night, I lay awake thinking about haloes. How convenient it would be, sometimes, to have a bright light hovering above your head – when you have to clean out the basement, for example, or when you want to read in bed. I wonder, though – when you want to go to sleep, does a halo have an “off” switch?

Not sure why that came up. I’m in England now, another world, so to finish briefly with France … I will have the fondest memories of Lyons, after two glorious days – the weather perfect, the city beautiful, and mostly, my host Vincent, who was unfailingly generous and kind. I had a great day wandering about. Ran into several more demonstrations – bicyclists for socialism, I think, and for the Palestinians, among them. Obviously, a sunny Saturday in France is ideal for a demonstration.
I decided instead of my usual ham sandwich to eat at a real restaurant for lunch, so had to find a good one, full of French people not tourists, reasonable, outside, not too trendy … found the perfect place with the perfect dish, a selection of five hors d’oeuvres, including the best gravlax I’ve ever had and dessert – nine perfect raspberries in a little pot. I asked the waitress directions, and the man at the next table came over to give me recommendations about where to go – this passageway is like being in Italy, don’t miss this square, climb up here for the best view. He plotted out my afternoon on the map.
I had a great day of sightseeing, thanks to my map, and returned to rest before the next ordeal – dinner. I wanted to take Vincent for dinner, so he had made a reservation at a favourite place, and a friend of his came with us. It was a beautiful room high above the city, and we had a marvellous meal, much laughter and talk and fabulous dishes. Vincent insisted on paying for our drinks which cost as much as the food. Truly I had an unforgettable time in this great city, which has the sophistication of Paris and the history and beauty, without the hassle.
Vincent drove me to the airport Sunday morning, again unbelievably kind of him considering that after our dinner, he went out to play his sousaphone and didn’t get back till 5 a.m. I hope he comes to Canada so that I can attempt to repay him. He dropped me at the Easyjet terminal, which is like a quonset hut for us cheapskates. I’d booked this flight from Lyons to Bristol many months ago for something like 40 euros, 10 euros less than it cost to take the train from Montpellier to Lyons. Amazingly cheap – but it certainly is No Frills. A painless flight, shared by a group of 50 French schoolchildren – like flying in the midst of a group of starlings. When the plane took off, they all screamed.
My friend Nicola met me at the airport; we recognized each other right away, after 40 years. When I went to theatre school in London in 1971-72, I lived in a bedsit in Baron’s Court; Nicola lived there too. We became great friends, and that Christmas, she took me home to Swindon with her, to be with her family. We lost touch until she contacted me last year through Facebook and we began to write again. So here I am, staying with her in Swindon; we spent yesterday getting caught up on the last forty years and walking around the stunning British town of Bath.
If only life were a little more interesting. Sorry to be so dull.
PS I just checked – my math, as usual, off. The flight cost about $110 and the train about $70.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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