Monday, 24 June 2013

Corsica Bound: Diary of Departure: 15

We're both up early, Di to clean the house, me to clean myself and  pack. We always stumble silently around 'Chez Diane' on our last day, so I put on some Ennio Morricone.
For breakfast we eat most of the remaining provisions and make up a food bag of what's left for our neighbor Marie Lucie. As I dunk crusts into my coffee, the stale bread reminds me of something I wrote on our last visit:

Yesterday's Bread

“Everyday but Sunday” she says
Glancing over my shoulder
As she counts out change
 Every day but Sunday
In the shadow of St Augustine
Crusts offered reluctantly
From the back of a crumpled white van

I am not yet 'of the village'
So have worked my way 
From the back of the queue

'Voila, you were lucky'
She draws a dark brown oddment
From within, then
Steps to her left
Blocking my view

I bound home with flour on my chest
To find you in the kitchen
Teacups brimful
Over your shoulder I see
The remnants of yesterday's bread
"Always leave a crust 
To show you're not in need"
Terry's chant
"Waste not, want for nothing"

I am my father's son
So every dawn we test our teeth 
On yesterday’s bread
Leaving the soft and the fresh 
For tomorrow

You hold me hopefully
As I picture pater
Tight lipped and wanting
Pressing broken teeth
Into the back of his smile

We ready the house for our absence during the summer.
- Secure the blinds and windows
- Turn off the gas in the kitchen
- Turn off the electricity and water supply in the downstairs shower room
- Lock the front door

As we leave the house I look to my right at what used to be our view of the mountain villages, now blocked by our neighbor's recent development. His front door is a fine, solid thing, engraved with musical motifs. 'X' is a talented musician. I remember the commotion when his grand piano was delivered to the house by half a dozen shirtless young men who grunted and groaned under the weight of the instrument while 'X' tutted and clucked, issuing directions from above. Once the piano was inside there was a brief silence before the playing started. 'X's house is floor boarded and the music reverberated from within and out over the valley. We reluctantly leant in, our resentments briefly forgotten.
It was a sad and beautiful moment.
We shuffle silently past our recently departed neighbour Titin's sculptures. 
They will grace the rocks outside our house long after we've all gone.

Titin was a good age and was seemingly rock solid, costaud, until the end.
We thought that he'd go on forever...

I think back to the morning we officially moved in to 'Chez Diane'. Di and our friends Gregg and Suzi stripped wallpaper whilst I went off tapping on neighbors' doors in search of a tin opener. Titin and his nephew had just returned from an early morning hunt and Titin dragged me into his kitchen and plied me with pastis. We drank until the bottle was empty and I stumbled home mid morning with a 'Ricard' bottle opener, no tin opener, and a seaside smile...
As we enter the square by St Augustine's church we look up to our right at the house of our English/Australian friends Janet and David who translated the village's ways for us when we first arrived. Janet and David worked in tourism and were massively influential in popularizing the island back in the 50s and 60s. Their children grew up in the house, went to the local schools and are as Corsican as it's possible for foreign blood to be. When we first arrived in the village Janet and David flitted between Paris in the winter and long summers in the house, visited by family and a whole host of quirky friends. Their children, now grown, are successful in the world of theatre and design, so there was always a bohemian aura permeating from within those walls.

These days, part from the odd visit from their kids the rambling house is sadly ever empty... Janet and David now rest in the cemetery above the village, but we still see them waving from the balcony, chuckling and chatting, chuckling and chatting...

At the airport I return the car rental, complimenting the 'Avis' mechanic on our car. 'You liked it?' he says surprised, scratching at his clip board, 'No one likes French cars. It's Renault. How you say? A piece of shit!'
As we board the plane Di gasps, turns and skips back down the steps, elbowing her way past the ascending flow of passengers. 
She's forgotten to kiss the Corsican earth, part of her ritual for departure. Di touches her fingers to her lips and then to the tarmac; lingering a little longer than usual.

Song of the Day: As we are returning to a much anticipated visit from Brian Lopez let's have him singing his own composition 'Love Comes Over You' from yesterday's favourite album, Giant Giant Sand's magnificent miss mash, 'Tuscon'.
It seems oddly appropriate given our unquantifiable intoxication
with this irresistible little island.

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