Sojourn

I slept in the bush all afternoon but unlike the Australian bush the bush behind the ferry terminal in St Malo was fucking freezing. I mean seriously cold even though I was wearing my parka. As I hid in that bush I could see the ferries. There would be an evening ferry back to Jersey. I could get that and say I was at the doctors. Did I want that? I didn’t know so I just hid in the bush until it was dark. I didn’t begin walking until I saw what I was sure was the last ferry leaving. It was out of my hands. I was committed.

As I walked I ran my fingers along walls and railing until they were tingly. It felt good to feel something apart from the cold and then I was thinking about hanging myself again. I mean, yeah, it would fuck up the kids but I’d done a runner anyway, would suicide be much worse? Not really. On the other-hand hanging yourself is fraught with danger. I’ve heard it told that people poo themselves when they hang themselves. With my luck I’d probably survive the hanging and just poo myself. That would be awful, I really couldn’t deal with that. Slowly spinning while the pompier tries to cut me down. The rope crushing my chin and making my face smile, him sniffing and looking displeased while I spin and smile and stink.

No. No suicide. Stick to my plan, I told myself. Write the travel book. I took a deep breath. I just needed some colourful French characters and if I were going to find them anywhere then France was the best place to start. I just had to not freeze to death.

I’ll be honest, the travel book wasn’t a card I’d expected to play so early in my life. It was something I’d always thought of as something I’d do just before I retired so that I wasn’t a poor old person. When I lay awake at night thinking about how wretched my life was, how I couldn’t even kill myself, I usually got to sleep thinking that if things got bad enough I’d simply write a travel book. If somehow my travel book failed to ignite the book reading public’s imagination I had a back-up which was to write a travel book while doing something really fucking stupid. Lugging a home appliance with me, or seeking out people with the same name as me from across the globe. People fucking love that shit for some reason. I hoped it wouldn’t come to that for me. The zany travel book, but that would all depend on the characters I met.

After walking for hours I was concerned. It should have been getting hotter as I neared the equator but it wasn’t – it was all fucked up – still, at least in the night I met an interesting character. As I was walking along – I’m following a river to Paris – an interesting character drove past me and threw an empty beer can at me. I had the first chapter, which was great. It got even better when the same car passed me from the opposite direction and threw another can at me. And then they came back and threw an empty packet of cigarettes at me and then I hid in a bush for an hour. The book was practically writing itself! I’d only gone about ten miles.

In the morning I stopped to get some cigarettes in a tabac, because nothing else in France is open. The man who served me was happy enough, but that’s not going to fill a chapter. I need a pig farmer who cooks me dinner and makes his own wine and truffles, that sort of shit. Early days though and I’m not going to give up. Going to see this through.

I hope everybody at home feels like a cunt for not supporting me.

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