Postcard from Royan


According to Jean-Pierre it is 23 degrees. Double it and add thirty. So about 75 in old money. Even better, Jean-Pierre says there’s more to come. “Mais, oui. Tomorrow, the same.”

We’re in Royan, on the Atlantic coast of France. Charente-Maritime, which the locals will tell you has a better climate than Nice and Cannes, and all those other places where two-cokes-for-two-thirsty-boys has you reaching for your credit card.

Not this morning. Coffee, croissants, the boys playing on the beach twenty yards away. Someone’s left a Telegraph at the next table. Jean-Pierre hasn’t moved it yet. But no thanks. Holiday mode has clicked in. I’d quite like to know the news on my football team. But not so much that I need to be depressed by the front page.

There are a couple of fishing boats lazily heading back to shore – carrying my sea bass for tonight if there’s any justice. In the distance two riders – one on an impossibly white horse – are cantering through the surf. It’s the sort of scene that’s usually reserved for an after-shave ad.

What were we talking about a couple of weeks ago? Work/life balance… That first one – just remind me what it was again will you?

And there’s a woman sitting opposite me. Seriously attractive. I’ve spent a large part of the last few months communicating with her by e-mail and text message. But that’s where holidays come in. Never mind the work/life balance, let’s spend some time on the kids/wife balance. We have an afternoon to ourselves. We’re going to discover a deserted beach, a café that doesn’t contain our children, and just… time. If that’s not in your business plan, it should be.

And then tomorrow, the water park. ‘Apres moi, le deluge’ as someone once said. When did Dan overtake me on the water slide? Did I notice that happen? When did I go from someone who was unbeatable down the rapids to an elderly gentleman? “Do you want a start, Dad?” No I damn well don’t. Not yet anyway.

So there you are. Other than a walk with my wife and a large sea-bass I have no plans, no goals, no targets. I’m dimly aware that in a couple of weeks time I’ll need to wear something called a tie. Right now socks are a bridge too far. Sooner or later I’ll be back to re-focus my TAB members. But for now? Sorry, I have an urgent meeting with Jean-Pierre. “Mon ami –les boissons? Encore, s’il vous plait…”

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