I totally met an interesting Frenchman! For real, not sarcastically like the last one. I got to Combourg, a small town with a castle and a lake and it was there I met the Frenchman.
I went down to the lake because everything was closed and I saw him. He was digging for something on the water’s edge, like a Mud Man. Digging in the mud. People are going to lap this up when they read about. Weird, you see a guy digging in the mud in England and you think he’s mental but a Frenchman doing it in France? That’s some culture right there. I thought he was looking for, well, seafood but now I type it out it’s clear he wasn’t with the lake not being the sea. I watched him though. He was supremely French. Head to toe denim and tightly cropped hair apart from a long black fringe. He was digging up something but I didn’t know what. He’d walk along the lake shore, kicking the grass with his feet then stop and dig with a trowel thing. Then he’d pounce on something and smuggle it into a shoe box. He’d then look around furtively and badly, badly because he wasn’t at all furtive. He didn’t see or hide from me and I was gawping right at him from about 100 metres away. And I was making notes.
I was going to totally interview this guy, I decided. Find out what he was foraging for and maybe get a recipe. People like hearing about what other people eat because people are fat and greedy and don’t run enough.
“Que est que tu fair?” Don’t know if that’s how you spell it but that means, ‘what are you doing?’ in French. I know some basic French but everybody speaks English so when he got close enough to me that’s what I said. He stood up straight, pulled his trousers up with his wrists and looked around then beckoned me over with his head.
“English?” He asked still looking around and still pulling his trousers up and sort of twisting them around.
“Yeah!” I said. He said something to me in French which I didn’t catch and then pointed to the floor with his trowel. I laughed because that’s what I do. I laugh when I miss things. It was the right reaction because he then said more stuff in French and crouched, parting the grass with his hands. I couldn’t see anything. He pointed to mud with his trowel and I omitted an impressed sound that I could never repeat. I kind of ‘ooh’ but more fucked. I’m not good around people.
“Ah!” He suddenly cried and went to work digging. My money was on truffles of some sort. Or eels but after a few seconds of quite frantic digging he produced a clump of mud.
“Cool!” I lied.
He then jabbed the mud with the point of his trowel that was actually a cake slice and the frog moved.
“Oh! That is cool! Frogs!” It could have been a toad.
He lifted the lid of his shoebox, which was kept secure with elastic bands, and squashed the frog in. He then introduced himself. His name was Ivanic. He looked stupid but happy and young. He asked me if I liked punk rock. I told him I did. I don’t. He seemed like a nice guy. He was very enthusiastic about life and so I told him what I was up to, the book, and he invited me for a game of pool in The Come Back Café.
There’s something wrong with me when in comes to playing pool. I always lose no matter who I play and it’s so weird because I am actually great at pool. I know exactly where to hit a ball to sink it. I have a powerful stroke and I can keep calm and yet I always lose. I spend time aiming each shot when the person who beats me doesn’t seem to aim at all. I actually put it down to me being too good at pool, if that makes sense. I’m too precise and obviously when you’re all about precision the scope for fucking up is bigger.
That does make sense.
I’m like a watchmaker when it comes to playing pool. With all the intricate variables it’s little wonder the results don’t tell the time whereas the people I play tend to be egg-timer makers and it’s harder to fail at pouring sand into a glass vessel than it is to put all those tiny cogs and springs together. I would probably do better at pool if I just hit-and-hoped like all the people who beat me do but when you’re blessed with pool skills such as mine it’s hard not to do it properly. As Ivanic set the balls up in the back room of The Come Back Café I was sure I would beat him.