Helter Skelter

Life on the training program wasn't all work and no play. The college was situated in Olonne just a few short miles from one of France's most beautiful and most renowned Atlantic resorts. So we students very often congretated there after class just to relax, chill out and visit the town's many bars and dance halls. As usual, I proved to be quite popular with the girls and rarely suffered for lack of an escort. But more often than not we hung around in groups, grilling on the beach and singing protest songs late into the night. Now and again, a couple of local policemen cast a weary eye on us, in search of various illicit substances. Smelling our breath made little sense, as our alcohol intake on such evenings was usually so high that nothing else could be detected. But after the first few weeks, the police must have put us down as being quite innocuous as they stopped bothering us. And those who did drift our way, usually joined in the fun.

During these long evenings as we sat there soaking up what was left of the descending sun and putting the world to right, my thoughts often went back to Gensdouce and to Violette. I'd not seen her since the night of the meeting in Gensdouce when I was appointed the new director of the espace loisirs. Rumours as to her relationship with Gérard were rife. Some felt they would be married before the summer. Others weren't so sure; she had after all been involved with so many young men in the past... including me, I thought still not able to put the bitterness out my feelings. True, I'd played around with the girls myself and had my fun but I'd never got serious with anyone and would hope that I'd hurt anyone, the way Violette had hurt me. But it was no use crying over spilt milk, so for the umpteenth time I threw my scattered thoughts into the wind and resolved not to think about any girl for the time being. Besides, the last thing I wanted to throw was to throw myself into another relationship right now, especially here, hundreds of miles from where I knew I belonged and would very soon be returning to.

During these months at the college I was in constant touch with Gensdouce. Guillaume and Thérèse wrote regularly, as did Annie. She and John were now converting the little outrooms I had once occupied into a small shop where they wanted to sell Irish products. Annie had met the owner of such a shop whilst on holidays last year and threw themselves into the idea the moment they discovered that Besançon had nothing similar. They hoped this would be a real money-spinner and had even promised to devote part of the profits to the espace loisirs, helped by the promise of a, for once, generous French government to increase the tax-breaks granted on donations to charitable and cultural insitutions.

But despite all this correspondence and the not infrequent phone calls, it soon became clear that if the centre was to open as planned in September, then someone was needed right now in Gensdouce, who would take up the reins and move things forward. My course was due to continue for another four weeks and then I would be assigned to an office somewhere nearby for a three month placement. Would it be possible to return to Gensdouce for the placement? The questions was more than a practical one, as I suddenly realised that I was beginning... no, ... that all along I had been homesick for Gensdouce and for those who were now far more than just friends.

Now, I knew I had to get back, come what may. I jotted down a short note to the course supervisor: "Could I come in and see you sometime tomorrow afternoon," and dropped it off at the office on the way to my afternoon classes. I was cheered up no end seeing a letter from Thérèse in my box and raced to class feeling the world was at last beginning to work out for me. That was before I opened the letter, itself, so full of good news, but finishing with the words:

"I saw Violette coming out of her mother's shop today. I'm afraid she didn't look at all well and she'd obviously been crying. She immediately turned the other way when she saw me coming, but when I followed her she softened and we went for a coffee. She won't let me say too much, but I can say that she's not at all well."


Because this is my first visit, I don't know if this is a continuing story, or complete, but it works well either way, and has a lovely feel.


23 January 2008 at 15:06  

could it be time to hop back in?????

23 January 2008 at 15:36  

Love the "helter skelter" title :)

Interesting turn of events this week.

23 January 2008 at 17:07  

hmmm...love waits for no one...

23 January 2008 at 23:09  

it will sort out...

if tomorrow comes

24 January 2008 at 10:49  

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