Skip to main content

Witness to a Crime ("I know kung fu")

Hi all,

Have had eyes opened to the seedy underbelly of France. Am shocked and appalled.

Lisette and I had moved on from Ambois to Blois (about 20 minutes up river) and were exploring the local market. Very scenic, rotisseries full of chicken being roasted, stalls carrying great wedges of nasally powerful cheese. Interesting soap, you know the like.

The marketplace was crawling with people and as we stood taking it in I felt a slight prod behind me. When I turned around I realised a French woman on a bike (say early-40s) had just run into me. I moved aside and watched her cycle on through the marketplace colliding with people as she went. Perhaps unsurprisingly, not everyone took this well. An old man (80+ if he was a day) who was on the receiving end of one of her collisions with the masses took umbrage. He bellowed something French at her and waving his arms chased after the woman through the marketplace in the style of a zombie in Dawn of the Dead. She, for her part, was as interested in this as the rest of us and stopped on her bike to watch the strange not quite undead man scampering in her direction.

What happened next was unexpected. The man reached the woman and without pausing for breath (which zombies probably dont need anyway) he struck her full in the face. There followed that sort of stunned silence that follows a shock to the normal social cohesion. You could see men throughout the crowd all involuntarily taking a step forwards - all presumably having reached the conclusion that this not good and it was indeed their duty to do something. You could see on our faces the conumdrum being furiously turned over - it's an old man, we can't hit him, but he hit her, that wasn't right, he might hit her again, we must do something... But what?

Whilst we pondered the social niceties of restraining an old (but clearly not enfeebled) man, the woman on the bike took her chance to react. She leapt off the bike and in one massively unexpected moment executed an elegant drop kick on the old man. Doing the proper Bruce Lee on her opponent. The man staggered backwards and once again you could see the cogs whirring throughout the crowd: That woman has just kicked an old man, that's not right, but he did hit her, so I guess that's fair, mind you two wrongs dont make a right, someone should do something... Still not sure what though...

I fancy that in the end people would have stepped forward and restrained both parties but in the end it proved unnecessary. The man decided that discretion was the better part of valour and started retreating with great haste. The woman started shouting something about the police and pulled out her phone so she could take a picture of her assailant.

The man was last seen retreating backwards whilst shouting and being pursed by the woman taking snap after snap. It was like a very surreal and aggressive photo shoot.

Away from danger...

Happy to report that I am now a well man. Lisette on the other hand has completely caught what I have and is suffering. Fortunately we've now made it down to Ken and Annies in Moraira (Spain) and so Lisette is being well cared for...

See you soon,

John and Lisette

Safe with the folks


Popular posts from this blog

Dieting Italian style in the Cinque Terre (or "Only Mad Dogs and Englishmen...")

We have arrived in the Cinque Terre which is on the North West coast of Italy. The direct translation is "Five Towns" and the idea is that you stroll / hike from one town to the next marvelling in the sights of the sea and the beauty of the towns. And the towns are lovely - it is as if Walt Disney came here 80 years ago to get his ideas of what fairy castles etc should look like. Pretty as a picture We are staying in the most Southerly town inside the Cinque Terre - Riomaggiore. There are no real hotels inside the Cinque Terre and the books (Lonely Planet and the " Rough Rubbish Guide to Italy") advise staying with locals. Accordingly we found ourselves following a burly, and I thought rather scary, Italian man home from the station after we arrived. Despite initial trepidation we ended up at a lovely apartment with a view of the sea at a fair price and with a gushing landlady who is wont to say things like "you should-a make-a the hay while the sun-

What would Phileas Fogg do?

It is June 2022. COVID hove into view back in early 2020 and radically adjusted all our lives. Part of that was the ability (and ease) of travelling abroad. Like so many, the Reilly family were effectively grounded since then. We have made trips, but we never left England. So when life started to seem less restrictive, we made plans. We found ourselves camping in a place called Cavallino in Italy. It looks on a map, as if it is near Venice. Looks can be deceiving. It turns out Swindon has better travel links to London than Cavallino has to Venice. However, links it has, and links we have used. You can travel from Cavallino on the bus down to Punta Sabbioni and then switch to a boat for the trip into Venice (or rather "Venezia"). This is the Reilly family on Burano, an island to the north of Venice. Having left the UK, where pretty much all COVID related mask restrictions were lifted some time ago, it was a surprise to discover that they are still in force in Italy.

Cable Cars and Credit Cards

I proferred the binbag. "All the rubbish; in here please". Conor turned to his right, "Una, will you climb in now?" Una grinned and mimed throwing objects into the sack. "There's my hopes and dreams right there Conor." Conor, Una, Lisette and I have known each other for half our lives. Well; Conor's not quite there - he's the elder statesman of our group. We met when we were working for British Airways as students, and living in Hounslow's finest dodgy digs. Since that time we've been scattered to the four winds; Una to Ireland, Conor to Switzerland. Lisette and I, well, maybe 3 miles tops to Twickenham. In seeking a mutual meeting place we found ourselves reaching for the logistically logical location: Italy. (I know; like a stepladder where you least expect it.) In keeping with how we first got to know one another, luxury accomodation was not our priority. We decided to camp. Can there be a fuller way to challenge your fear of