50 – Summer in Bristol

The time has cometh. After forty-nine rather pointless, but I hope, mildly informative posts about my time here, I come to the last. For the time being anyway.

I was going to reread my entire blog before writing this, but I don’t need to. Apart from the ‘odd’ alcohol eroded night, I can pretty much remember everything. I’ve had my internal video camera jammed on record for the past year; the red light’s always been on. If I sketched out a 40 week chart on a piece of A3 paper I could quite easily fill in the gaps. Or I could simply read my blog. But how much of that is true?

I would say most of it. Certainly the timings and actual events are real with perhaps the odd untrue anecdote thrown in to liven it up. I mean life isn’t that interesting is it. So, you can take it all as gospel if you want. Admittedly, there are some events I’ve missed out due to the fact that I’m a teacher in Lyon and this is a public blog. You fill in the gaps…

In a nutshell, I can sum up the past year as follows: weeks good: weekends not so good. I’ve had good nights, but at times it’s felt like I’m killing time until Monday. I’ve enjoyed working more than I’ve enjoyed having time off. Which if you have known me for the past fifteen years, is somewhat of a revelation.

It’s not that I haven’t looked forward to the weekends – vivement le weekend is my favourite expression – yet by Saturday afternoon, me and the weekend are not getting on, and I’m looking forward to seeing Monday. As though married to two women, neither of which I particularly like. But it’s not a major crisis; it’s the natural process of moving to a new place. And finding good friends is hard. You don’t just pick them up like you pick up pine cones in a park on a bright sunny Saturday. They’re more like dandelion seeds blowing in a strong breeze: hard to see and almost impossible to catch. But next year I’m going to put more effort into meeting people. Learning better French, and leaving Lyon more often. People, Language, Places. PLP for short.

But the main point is: I’ve done it. There were some scary moments in November wandering up and down the river in the rain clutching a can of beer and thinking:

‘What on earth am I doing here!’

A year and a half ago on New Year’s Eve after selling Christmas trees by the roadside in Bristol for two months, I devised a plan: I would start teaching again and go abroad for another year.

As I start packing up my meagre belongings into the rucksack I bought to go to the Scilly Isles in 1992, I think to myself that for once in my life, I’ve actually done what I set out to do. It’s a start.


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