Alone as sea mist descends in patches, then opens with a breeze, until sunlight turns hard again, hard and bright on the water. Walk across course shingle and shell fragments; a thick crust of mussels, limpets, periwinkles, whelks, cockles, scallops, oysters and razors. Scattered piles, rich in texture and colour, like a coastal souk. Scarred soles smell of seaweed and scabs and salt. The tide devours rock pools. On the shoreline: waders, turns, shorelarks, plovers. A limestone crevice leaks lizards. The sun dilates, begins to turn, and dip. Skin tingles. Evening arrives; we drink bottles of Cotes du Rhone, swallow olives, gorge on tuna steaks, sardines and sausages. Hair dries out: salt bleaches it. Skin stings a little as we empty jars of cold beer by the pool. Later on, stars burst open above us. There are no clouds. Fires are lit in the grass. Exotic cocktails mixed in the dark. Mosquitoes swarm when we run for the nets.
Monday morning at the market. Coffee cuts through the heavy haze. Buy melons and grapefruit, feta cheese and olives, a block of freshly chopped butter and home-made jam. I want local cognac in a presentation box and sausages sold by a man with an Asterix moustache. Stop to mark the exact point tiles touch sky. Tune out the crowd and track fat pigeons reinforcing nests and house martins dancing through hot air. Lost near the watches and silk underwear. Plagued by a sinister hoverfly. It is said: "I think you're going to be courted by that hoverfly for the rest of your life, until the day you kill it." Stop to stuff crayfish and crab in a cafe. The cafe has a dark interior and a beautiful barmaid with a Florentine face. I have crushed ice in a glass, choose a liquor and add it. A ceiling fan cuts shadows across the floor. Later: cycle home. Sun sears. Heat ripples the road's surface. I cycle round a roundabout the wrong way.
The beach is our territory in a matter of days. There is: a school party crabbing on the reef, shells piled like shattered Morano glass, a woven bag full of food, sunlight along waves. The sky streaked with fire; ripped up by air sea rescue. The swell picks up; yachts sail toward the shore. Waves thunder along thin tectonic plates, under hostile sky. The sun goes down. Later on, the streets are loud and lovely. Stray euros fed into pinball machines and shooting games and cash otherwise wasted wisely on a racing track, cigarettes, food, wine, and spirits. A one-armed wine-sodden gent operates a merry-go-round as Let it Bleed
seeps from leaky speakers. A girl falls into a fountain and shows us nice knickers and no bra. Big blazing eyes down the street. Cars slash past. Flies hit lights. On a magazine cover: INFIDELITEE
(go Adjani!) can we be serious for a second? "Well, I'm wearing shorts and drinking something I've never heard of, so..."
Night evolves: we slowly run out of cigarettes and wander home along winding roads with bugs and crickets making out in dry grass banks. In the humid night air the lamplights hum. Into new hours, and lavender, spruce, wild flowers. White stucco walls and breeze blocks and plaster and terracotta tiles all cold in the cooling AM air. Marilyn Monroe is singing. She's washing sand out of her hair. She's wrapped up in a white towel. Then a mist of perfume. Like her with the eyes: give her a gladioli for her lack of effort and its effect. Very juicy strawberries and peaches and double cream from a French farm staining teeth and lips: that's the sweetest thing to kiss. Away from swimming pools and silent towns. We dispense hours in luxury before things clarify.