Excerpts From My Book


(Helen Aurelius-Haddock) #1

Ever a sucker for ridicule and punishment, I have decided to share my latest writing project with you.
Please feel free to comment, and I apologise in advance for the lack of editing.


Beginnings.


I am not really sure if my story should start at the beginning, or even if it has one. Nor do I want to walk the well trodden path of yet

another Move To A New Country novel, as I fear the tale may have become

a little threadbare.

However, I think that my experiences may form a common thread with some

readers, for others they may act as a cautionary tale. Please feel free

to sneer, titter, or close this book and stuff it into a bag of

miscellanea destined for the local charity shop, and switch on the TV.

I’m even game to share the highs and lows of life in France and provide

a little light entertainment at my expense. I have very thick skin.

But before I attempt to unfold the tale of endless summer evenings and

thirty course meals , a universal truth should be said here: Moving to

a new country is a big decision, even if it is to one that sits some

seventeen miles off the southernmost coast of Great Britain. Call it

abroad, the Continent, Europe or just plain France, it is breaking new

ground for those who decide to go.

I was one of those who decided to do just that some six years ago. I am

still here, and so are many others. Unsurprisingly, each month that

passes, more and more people join us.

I could not even begin to document the reasons why, although I strongly suspect the Two For The Price Of One bag en box rose at our local supermarket may be this weeks’ main attraction.

People come and their reasons cover the broadest of spectra, and thankfully they are not obliged to provide them at the Douanes at the northern French ports.

They just come. And live here. Some go back. Lots stay. Lots and lots. It’s that simple.

I am one of those who have stayed and I can’t even cite a single reason

why any more. I know I have a goldfish memory,but I take this as a

positive thing. I reason that if I am not wondering why I came, then I

am not searching for a reason to leave, which is a good sign.

I do recall a time when I seriously thought about why I was going to live in France.

It was the day that we were moving for good.

I had persuaded my brother in law to help my husband with a do-it

-yourself removal. We had obtained removal quotes which almost rivalled

the price of the house we had bought in France and we reckoned that we

could do it ourselves, which we did.

My brother in law soon learned that helping actually meant

masterminding the entire operation, while my husband meticulously

packed away his precious computers and read the papers he was wrapping

them in.

I had anticipated this, and enlisted the help of my daughters’ friends who were keen to earn a bit of extra pocket money.

In truth we were well prepared, with the majority of our worldly goods

packed away in neatly labelled crates and boxes, before the lorry

pulled up next to the house.

We were leaving our house after almost twenty years, and like so many

families, had acquired lots of extra furniture and tat during that

time. One particular item was a piano, which had been delivered down a

shared drive with my neighbour. For reasons I could not recall that

morning, we thought to make the house more saleable we would fence in

the unwieldy garden, which didn’t include our section of the drive, It

did look rather nice, but now presented us with the logistic problem of

how to transport the piano to the removal van at the top of a very

steep drive, with only a minuscule gate in the new fence, which was now

our only access to the outside world.

Blessed with a silver tongue my brother in law persuaded our neighbour

on our other side to allow us to demolish a small wall that separated

us with promise of bountiful recompense in the form of a bag of ready

mix cement, some new bricks and a crate of beer.

While the ensuing fact is not pivotal to the tale, it may interest some

to know that as the small row of houses where we lived were perched on

a hill, the drives got steeper as they went, and my neighbour’s

resembled the climbing wall at the local leisure centre.

For those of you that have had the pleasure of moving a piano, it is a seriously heavy piece of kit.

My husband had been coaxed out of his armchair and there were now four males poised to do the the job.

I wanted to look away, as I felt disaster was about to pay a visit.

Undeterred, my brother in law hatched a plan to move this musical beast

towards the awaiting van.

A rope was found, and the piano was lashed, trailer style to the back

of our Land Rover, and, guided by three strong pairs of hands. My

husband volunteered to drive as it involved his favourite occupation of

sitting down. Slowly it travelled up the drive to meet the van at the

top.

I watched the whole episode from the van with bated breath, and saw it

had started to rain and fretted over the damage it might cause. I was

quite relieved when I saw it loaded safely inside. It was one of the

last things to go on, and for me at least, it signified that our

impending move was, like moving the piano going to be a bit of a risk,

and charged with the unexpected. It was at that point that I

questioned, not for the first time if we were making the right

decision, as I did not want our life, like our piano to end up

shattered into a million splinters right back where we had started.

Perhaps it showed me that acclimatisation to a new life in another

country would need to be inched along carefully, just like my precious

piano.