Sunday, 10 October 2010


The editor of a UK magazine I write for lives in Nice, funnily enough.  I hadn't met her before I wrote my first piece, and she invited me to meet her at the airport after publication in order for us to set eyes upon each other, and so she could hand over the dosh to me in a plain, brown envelope, Jeffrey Archer style.  If I could be there at 5.30, she told me, there'd be time for a coffee before she met her friend, who was flying in for the weekend.

So I duly set my alarm for 3.30am, sprang out of bed and into the shower, drank a cup of strong black coffee and set off into the night - ears filled with TSF Jazz, the radio station without whose playlist I am unable to place one foot in front of the other. I knew it was too early for even the airport buses to be running, but I was able to catch the first tram of the day at 4.30, taking me (almost) down to the Promenade.

I quite enjoyed my power walk along the seafront; nobody around, the sea still managing to sparkle in the blackness.  I got into a good rhythm, but on nearing the airport - which is, literally, on the coast - I realized I would need another 15 minutes for the journey, and so I texted Melissa to say I was on my way.

A text was duly returned:  IT'S NOT NOW, IT'S 5.30 THIS AFTERNOON.


So used am I to the 24 hour clock being employed almost exclusively here, it hadn't occurred to me that people don't fly in for the weekend at 5.30 in the morning.  

Anyway, around I turned, and walked to the nearest bus stop. I was unwilling to trek for another three quarters of an hour back to the centre of town, and had to be awake enough to teach Paolo in Cannes at 8.00am. The timetable on the bus stand told me the first bus would come in 20 minutes, so I settled down and waited for the ride with Dizzy Gillespie.

Eventually, after 15 minutes, I saw a motorized road sweeper, so beloved of the French, approach in the distance.  Sweep, sweep, sweep, it crawled along at a pace slower than Brylcremed Brian's brain synapses connecting up.  When it was almost at the bus stop I caught sight of my bus haring into view.  Only the driver, too, saw the road sweeper about to suck up imaginary dust from the bus stop kerbside, and he overtook it at a speed approaching 50 miles an hour.  I jumped up and down, waving my arms and shouting.  The driver looked at me sadly, shrugged, and continued on his merry way.


And so, there I was, waiting another 20 minutes for another [SWEARWORD] bus.  The next one actually stopped, but when the ticket I had used on the tram wasn't accepted by the bus' ticket machine (here you can use a ticket more than once within 74 minutes) the driver insisted I buy another.  I explained about the first bus, but he was a man of little natural compassion.  So I paid for another fare, at the same time telling him his mate owed me a [SWEARWORD] euro.

Naturally, once at Place Massena, I just missed a connecting tram to the station so, with another 25 minutes before the arrival of the following one, I walked.  Of course, the trains to Cannes were then delayed, and rather than arrive in Cannes far too early, with time for a (now much-needed) coffee on the Croissete, I got to Paolo's 5 minutes after I should have done.

Later that day, when I once again set off for the airport to meet Melissa, there was a traffic jam of biblical proportions (I really wouldn't start splitting hairs with me at this point), and I arrived at the airport 30 minutes later than the appointed hour.  Fortunately, Melissa was also caught up in the nightmare, which I discovered after I'd sent her a text saying it takes some sort of talent to be 12 hours early and half an hour late at the same time.

The things I do for cellulite.

(Oh, by-the-way, the secret of comedy isn't, in fact, timing, but being menopausal).


Bus tickets:  76

Deep love for motorized road sweepers and French bus drivers:  You must be [SWEARWORD] joking.

Fishfingers: 0 (It was a really bad day).

Oh, and Men:  0  (I'm men - 0 - pausal)

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Please be nice, but not funnier than me. Thanks.