The world's most original Irishman - that's what you could call me. That's definitely what the four young travellers I bumped into on my way to France thought of me. Both they and you would, of course, be right. But then, you must bear in mind the fact that anyone outside his own native environment is always more original than inside it.

Over the next few weeks, you'll be getting every Wednesday some of my adventures in France. But to introduce the series here's the journal entry one of the four young travellers This should put you into the right mood for my next eccentric happenings.

Tuesday 7.30 a.m. After a long and tiring trip, arrived safely in Besançon some two hours ago. The girls were excited and nervous, but nothing untoward happened. Unless, that is, you consider our chance encounter with Simon. Simon was an Irishman. Now I know what people say about the Irish and I'm not usually in favour of stereotypes, but as far as Simon is concerned, they really do fit the bill. He wasn't really stupid but very very naive.

We met him about 30 minutes outside of Calais, when we heard someone out in the corridor calling out whether anyone here spoke English. His joy at finding us was evident and he settled into our carriage endearing himself to us with his Irish lilt and his offer of beers all round. To our bemusement, he hadn't a clue where he was going or what he was going to do when he got there. He didn't even have a ticket for the train; he had just got on counting on sorting out any other matters when they arose.

What he did have was a well-worn piece of paper, obviously torn out of an exercise book of some kind with an address written on it. That's when we treated us to his story and you can picture the five of us tearing through the French countryside finishing of the remains of his beer as he told us his story.

Some fifteen months earlier he had gotten to know a young Frenchman on holiday in Ireland. Simon had picked him up in his dad's car on the way home from work and invited him to stay as long as he wanted. They'd visited most of the local watering holes together and had had a pretty rum time at a weekend folk festival - 72 hours non-stop. Well, when this stranger had left, he'd invited Simon to come over any time he wanted and wrote his address. Simon hadn't heard a word from him since, but on the strength of this invitation he'd decided to close the door on his all too conservative Ireland and begin a new life in France. His only luggage, a small carrier bag with the handle of a tennis racket sticking out of the top.

He held out the piece of paper. "Any idea where this place is." I took it and with a bemused smile passed it to the others. It read:

Gérard Demille
La Mairie

We pointed out he'd been given the address of a village town hall.

"That's right! Simon mentioned something about his father being the Mayor."

I couldn't help wondering if this wasn't a case of out of the frying pan into the fire. If he was escaping from Ireland because he didn't fit into its conservative infrastructure, this little village along the Doubs river was not going to be much better. But I refrained from saying something and we soon reached Paris, where we stocked up on the beer and found our connecting train. As Besançon was not far from Gensdouce we stuck together until in the earlier hours of the morning the train pulled into his stop. We'd explained exactly what he had to do and written down the instructions in both English and French. That way he'd only have to show his piece of paper to whoever might want to help. I can see him now skipping off into the darkness on his quest for a new life.


the next entry on next wed? I got to know if he found who he was looking for...ahem, you were looking for!

14 September 2007 at 02:05  

This was a great start: it should be interesting to see where it goes.

15 September 2007 at 23:50  

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