Monday, 1 March 2010

Tale of 2 journeys

Well one actually,
I tried to go from Limoux to Couiza the other day.
Bought my ticket like sensible person, from the machine as the office was shut for serious lunch break. Then a bus came, not a train. Office open, yawning type behind counter. I explained my predicament. 'Hello, I am an artist (bad move) and I have bought a return ticket to Couiza, so that I can sketch the train journey. I cannot do this on a bus.'
'Why not'?
'Because I'll feel travel sick . . . no not really . . . it's a concept, I need to be on a train.'
'Er, quoi?'
'Can I get a refund? There was no sign saying the train would be replaced by a bus'.
'Madame you are mad — go and have a lie down on that bench outside'.
'Well? refund?'
'No, I cannot authorize this. There is a perfectly good bus, and
you should have been on it, it takes you to the same place, and it has comfy seats'.
'But' . . .
Then realized that I am possibly mad, and that no one else would understand, or care . . . sob

Today I tried again. With success. Didn't buy a ticket. Sat by window drawing and feeling naughty, so went to find the ticket man. He was semi-asleep. Opening one eye he said: 'Madame, je suis mal . . . une autre fois.'
What did he mean? He had put his wife in the chest freezer and it was time to confess? He had eaten to much? Anyway free ride to Couiza.
Stood around in the village and looked at all the things that you notice when not driving. Glimpses of dark interiors behind net curtains, neat potagers (veg patches), dusty, once-magnificent doors etc. Had a coffee with my ticket money and wandered back to the windswept station.
Surprised to find the same ticket man; now vertical and keen to sell me a ticket, I asked him if he was now feeling OK. He said he was sorry about earlier but he had had 'une envie de rendre'. He let me off the trip from Limoux, and I paid the return. He thought I was odd taking a return trip and staying only half an hour at my destination. I explained with a wave of my sketchbook and he understood totally (?)
When I got home we looked up 'de rendre" and it was, as I thought, to be sick . . . give back what you took, or ate. Rather poetic.

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