Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Dave the Lionheart in Chalus

I was in Cussac, Limousin, making an album with the reknown Wreckless Eric and the unknown Robert Rotifer. I was just the bass player. I learned my parts and got them down. I was finished in two days and had too much free time before my return flight. I was trying to behave myself and stay out of trouble but the ‘cabin fever’ of the recording studio was unsettling.

Discovering a disused train line that ran from nearby Oradour-sur-Vayres to Chalus was a lifeline. Lost railway tracks make me calmer. You’d like me more if you met me tracing some lost route through the hills and valleys.

I wore a hat with a British Rail badge because I’m a cock-end. People still said ‘Bonjour’ to me. The line ran 13 kilometres and I decided to walk there because I’m a fuckwit who doesn’t know how long a kilometre is.

South West France has been garnished liberally with Britons. I met seven British humans and four British dogs. I saw a Union Jack in a garden, seriously I did.

In Chalus I felt blisters forming on my feet. The word ‘taxi’ was met with laughter and I knew I’d have to walk all the way back. I decided to refuel.

Dave runs Hotel du Central in Chalus and has done for four years. He struggles with his French and his French struggles back.

“Champignons are mushrooms, right? Oignons are onions, they speak for themselves,” says Dave. He wears sports clothes, but doesn’t do sport.

“It’s the masculine and the feminine,” says Dave explaining his linguistic hurdles. “Lemonade is feminine, beer is feminine, but shandy is masculine. Now beer is, primarily, a man’s drink. I know women drink beer, but it is primarily a man’s drink.”

Dave uses the word ‘primarily’ to underline his words. Dave was on a roll; he had momentum.

“Now power tools! Half of them are feminine! I don’t know where it all comes from. I really don’t.”

Richard the Lionheart was killed in Chalus. He was a French speaking English King who spent little time on British soil. There’s a statue of him outside Westminster.