Oh! For a magic carpet

21 Oct 2020

I have referred a lot recently to Future Learn Courses. They have been invaluable. Current one is ‘The Path to Happiness and Good Quality of Life’. The range of participants and the dialogue is like having a second ‘Moodscope’ every day, can’t be bad. The last session on the second week was ‘Places we live’. Obvious effect on quality of life, but millions of people have absolutely no choice in where they live. My ‘post’ to that was the following.

This topic inevitably leads to the accident of birth. As a historian and demographer, and much travelled it colours my thinking. Born in the UK in 1935 I have been ‘free’ all my life in a democracy. Social problems are enormous now, but still freedom of choice. If I had been born in France I would have been subject to occupation by an enemy power. We chose France for nearly half our lives because the Quality of Life is better; we were made welcome, especially as we made an effort to integrate and learn the language. Born in much of the world I would have had a lesser chance of adulthood. In that ‘Great’ country, the USA, born black I would have been part of a despised race. We have sponsored girls in India, born to illiterate parents, father a drunken coolie or worse. Despite laws the ‘caste’ still reigns.

So, I have my magic carpet. Ignore any problem – cost and difficulty of getting there, corruption, gang wars, bombs, floods, fires, volcanoes, strikes, demonstrations, wrong hotel rooms, useless cars, empty promises, arriving on a national festival day, unreliable workmen and buying a house which was not the seller’s property in the first place, what is perfect? (We have experienced the whole list except the last).

A view of the sea would be paramount. We hired a studio flat in Villefranche-sur-Mer (between Nice and Menton). First time, a January, they were celebrating the 700th anniversary of it being a ‘Free Town’, and had put a huge fountain in the harbour. We woke in the morning to the sun coming up over Cap Ferrat (most expensive property, King of Belgium’s place now owned by Russian Mafia). Doze along the sea front in a dream, to get the bread. Write all morning, with the sea as inspiration. Walk afternoon – evening cook with most of my attention on sea and passers-by to restaurants (spenfix). If you felt energetic you could scramble up the vertiginous paths (area where Princess Grace died). When a son and great-granddaughter came we caught the double-decker train and went to lunch in Italy. No way could we afford to live there – shopping and parking car hassle, but it was great. Other dreams? Bali, Sabah, Australia, Thailand, Goa – golden beaches, warm seas. But all those places would need a St Patrick beside you – to clear (as said about Ireland) the snakes.

I AM booked in for a week’s treat at a Thalassa, facing the sea, near here. But it looks like being scuppered by Covid. Dream on.

The Gardener

A Moodscope member.

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