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In France, I injure my manly area

  Mon 24th July 2023

The family -- now augmented through my daughters with one ex-girlfriend and another present one -- went to Brittany. Our twentieth anniversary of being there, during which we've missed only four years, Kirsty worked out. We stretched it this year to two weeks and four days.

At 6am, the bars in Bristol airport are full. Surely, no other country has this kind of drinking culture, where "going on holiday" is a licence to ignore any respectability about the hours of drinking. (And if there is one, I'd like to go there). Women are dressed in gym wear, pyjamas, or lingerie. Many men love a chance of some hyper-masculine strutting: tattoos; tight tops with "Athletic Dept" written on them; names of places in America sieved of their consonants, or doing free advertising for "ellesse".

There was an early moment of friction between me and my youngest, and the sea floor. I had run into the sea, but dived too early into shallow waters, and grated my mons pubis against the coarse sand below. I compartmentalised the mild pain, and continued swimming. Later that day, in the perhaps too public setting of the middle of the living room, I pulled my pants away to peer at the damage. I was told off for this (I can't remember her exact words), to which I responded "oh shut up! I've cut myself."

I went to the bathroom to continue my self-examination -- both of my pubic bone and of my lack of a sense of considering others when performing such an inspection -- and, better attired, I apologised to my youngest. She did so too and we had a little hug.

Kirsty is a lot more restless than me -- I remember nights in our bed when her jerking foot only slowed rather than stilled -- but I was glad I signed up to her excursion to Quiberon, a cheery place where some people do work that doesn't involve catering to tourists. My youngest got bus-sick, and fifteen minutes after we arrived, threw up on the promenade.

A French woman in a flat opposite asked her, in English, if she'd like some water. My daughter thanked her and apologised in French (she's currently in Brittany full-time, on the third year of a degree studying it). "Heavy night, eh?" the woman ploughed on.

At this point I took against her. It reminded me of something in Max Egremont's superb history of the decline of East Prussia, (fortunately, there are maps), when he was deflated by a train conductor congratulating him -- in English -- for having very good German. Always that demotion. "I don't mind giving you some water, but we'll keep our language to ourselves, thanks."

Never mind: a crystalline foreign sky and sea air cures all. We clambered over the rocks of the côte sauvage, and the sea rolled in, impatient for high tide, the colours all turned up. There were pools populated by fish and crabs, into which I lowered my feet gently so as not to scare them off from doing their fascinating collective scurrying. I described the five-inch-long pale green fish to Kirsty, but in case things were getting too enjoyable, I said "what a shame we're going to lose it all."


Comment from: Scarlet [Visitor]

I hope your manly areas have recovered?
I’m always very grateful whenever anyone speaks English when I’m abroad as I’m really rubbish at languages and Google translate doesn’t quite cut it face to face.

Tue 25th July 2023 @ 14:48 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Thank you for your concern Miss S :) Yes – it wasn’t a nice area to have a bit of sea-sandpaper rub on!

I did French at school and it’s surprising how much has stuck.

Wed 26th July 2023 @ 10:18 Reply to this comment
Comment from: monkey man [Visitor]

“What a shame we’re going to lose it all": I’m sure French will nasalize forth from some digital vault.

Thu 27th July 2023 @ 09:58 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Lucky us.

Thu 27th July 2023 @ 12:36 Reply to this comment
Comment from: 63mago [Visitor]

So you ripped your balls off ? Don’t worry, just grow them back.
And thank you for bringing the book by Mr ASCHERSON to my notice. I feel a lot of respect for Lady Dönhoff.

Thu 27th July 2023 @ 12:38 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

It’s ok, it was a scraping. It was good that it happened in the sea as the sea probably acted as a styptic. It was just in a bit of a sensitive area.

The book is actually by Max Egremont – Ascherson was the reviewer. I don’t know if it’s been translated into German, but it certainly should be. It’s lyrical, like a less romantic lieder cycle in parts. But rooted in painstaking, patient research, which to do properly, for which you need good German and Russian, and to be able at least to read in Lithuanian and Polish (as a minimum set of languages) – which makes me even more pissed off at the remark of the German train guard.

Thu 27th July 2023 @ 16:07 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

Good to see you back my friend! sounds like a fantastic holiday… besides the injury of course… such a shite show around here you may be in for an email… when all’s a bit pear-shaped it may be time to eat the pear…

Mon 31st July 2023 @ 13:41 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Yes it was a really great time, it’s like a bit of paradise.

All email is welcome kono, especially if your fruits is misshapen!

Mon 31st July 2023 @ 21:05 Reply to this comment

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M / 60 / Bristol, "the most beautiful, interesting and distinguished city in England" -- John Betjeman [1961, source eludes me].

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