On my final night in France, Tahar took me to what he described as the best Indian restaurant in Chambéry, which turned out to be a Pakistani Halal outfit, but who’s going to quibble over such small details (apart from Indians and Pakistanis, obviously).
There were a total of four of us in the restaurant. Me, Tahar, a solitary French diner, and the proprietor. “You like cricket?” I asked him, to which he replied with a stream of Pakistani-accented French, from which I picked up that he had watched cricket every day while growing up in Pakistan, but in France all they show is “le foot, le foot, le foot!”. After yet another smoking break involving Tahar and the other diner (the restaurateur took his smoking breaks separately) they returned to the obligatory coffee. I declined. “The French – they drink a lot of coffee, right throughout the day,” I commented in my best GCSE French. “They drink a lot, they smoke a lot…”
This tickled our friend at the other table. The scene reminded me vaguely of Desmond’s, with Porkpie chuckling away in the corner. “And in England, you drink tea instead.” I explained that I didn’t live in England, and I much preferred coffee, but at 10pm? I would never sleep. Doesn’t seem to be a problem that’s occurred to the French.
In an intriguing mix of our native languages, with much hand-waving and the odd break for a cigarette, the three of us discussed any number of topics, including family, DC’s situation, religion, the deterioration of educational and healthcare standards in France and the UK, French food (not as good as it used to be), Sarkozy (he’s an idiot), Muslim fundamentalism. It was quite a night.
I am in Sheffield as I write this – at a conference for the next couple of days. Had my first experience of Nando’s Peri-Peri chicken tonight. iColin and I opted for a corn-on-the-cob accompaniment. Corn-on-the-cob is great for getting your teeth into, I find, and it returns the favour by getting right into your teeth. Will be picking sweetcorn out for days, I expect.
DC was eventually repatriated to Scotland on Saturday, after a false start or two (try and avoid MapFre if you can when choosing travel insurance), and is recovering gradually in an Edinburgh hospital. I saw him this morning before I headed south. He seemed in good form, albeit dog-tired from lack of sleep. Not a good place for light sleepers, hospital. I brought him some earplugs.