Keeping a light shining

27 May 2020

It may sound the extreme of pessimism, but I am already thinking how on earth I can avoid a winter as awful as the last one: very wet, and the sun never shone. I think it was Picardie where statistics showed there was not a ray of sunshine for 61 days!

I should think there is virtually nobody living who has not had repercussions to the world-wide lockdown, suspended animation a pretty good description. I had three exciting ‘firsts’. One, broadcasting, is still on ‘hold’. The other two, ‘twinning’ visits to Germany and Poland have probably gone forever. Morbid? Not really – lots of things, even the Olympic Games, have been deferred. But the twinning is every other year. Next ones would be 2022, I shall be 87; even if I were lucky enough to be fit to travel, don’t think insurance companies would be keen. So, be satisfied with what I have, take stock, and stop whinging.

The major problem is our town is moribund. When we came here, a generation ago, it was vibrant, near the Mont Saint Michel, and benefiting from tourists staying in hotels, restaurants and using shops in town. Then several things happened: the Mont changed perspective completely, at vast expense. Hotel and restaurant complexes were built nearer. A huge area was given over to camping cars. An excellent camp site on the edge of town had its own services and swimming pool.

Business dwindled very quickly for hotels and restaurants. Supermarket trade rose quickly, of course, easier to park your camping car. Public transport, never good, worsened. There is no education here for over 16’s, The young go and board in big cities and never come back. Church attendance, already reduced, is now mostly elderly. We have five new widows this year, our priest has died (he did not live here anyway) he has not been replaced. The census shows a reduction of 900 in 10 years, that is a lot in a canton of 4,500 to begin with.

We had a small, but excellent library, in the town centre. It is now much better, but out of town, you need a car or to be a good walker to get there. There were four doctors when we came, now there is one. Tourist season is a very doubtful prospect this year, usually a very bright spot for me. So, my ‘great’ plans for last winter did not come to fruition. I did spend Christmas and New Year in a commune, very successful, but not to spend 2 months.

Had a brainwave, I would love to speak Italian again. Looking at monastery type set-ups in Italy which take laic guests. Need to be able to afford it IF I find one. Then I have to get there. The logistics, now, of getting out of our benighted corner of France are staggering. But at least I am jabbering in Italian to myself, it’s a start.

Anybody else groping for light at the end of the tunnel? Or wait and see?

The Gardener

A Moodscope member.

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