Again, lounging on the sofa, again, another drink, again, the short book of a 108 pages; The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd, again, the desultory attempt to read, to focus the mind, to concentrate. Again as he had been the previous evening and so many other before that. Although on this occasion unlike last night his glass was charged with vin doux from Maury and not beer from Leffe.
…Après plus cinq années d’élevage, le vin de chaque millésime est venu a la recontre de ses aînés pour un élevage en solera dans une ancienne cuve…..
Late November or was it early December. RyanAir flight to Perpignan. Rented car. All that counted was speed and the quality of the sound system. Heading down to Collioure. Under the guise of property search. Future location. No given budget. Possibly just an excuse to get away for a couple of days. I tag along.
C’est un vin extraordininaire, très parfumé, doux et corsé à la fois. I sublimera des fromages bleus comme des desserts au chocolat ou au caramel. A l’apéritif ou après le repas, il sera le companon d’une lecture ou d’une conversation entre amis.
Humidity saps energy. Invites lethargy. Sky darkening. He drags the monstrous green umbrella, magnificent parasol, sheltering canopy, across to cover sofa and table as raindrops begin to fall. Now there is refuge though there remains an elliptical opening between the wall and two tips of the structure. Where, within a sort space of time, water will begin to run down the wall and drip from the canvas onto the back of the sofa. Collecting in a little pool. Settling in the open seam atop of decaying leaf and garden matter. He slips his hand into the fold.
La boutielle entamée se gardera plusiers jours au frais. A déguster vers 14C.
Rented car. Rented room. Formule 1 hotel. Usual complaints about beds and who has which room. Arun on balcony smoking and drinking whisky. Intoxicated descent towards sleep until text messages interrupt. Sasha who calls herself Asia who used to be La Vie en Rose who said she loved you but when that guy offered to take her to some Mediterranean island that universal emotion got macerated. She’s saying goodnight and telling you she misses your warmth and you think how absurd it all is. Feet on floor. I’m sure I read somewhere that Matisse came to Collioure. Drain the remainder of the bottle.
At breakfast. Orange. Listening to a couple carp on about spending time in Barcelona. How wonderful the breakfasts were on their drive up. And this. You get what you pay. Fuck!!! who ate all the pain au chocolat. Arun arrives. Claims of a morning walk is of course nicotine indulgence. He serves himself but takes merely a sip of coffee and the rest is remaindered. The agenda locked inside his head. I say I want to stop of and buy some anchovies. He waits in the car; I’ll get mine at the airport.
Find the D117. Head to Maury. Not to stop off at the caves. But to climb the hill up towards the ruined castle. Passing workers pruning vines on the slopes. An old Citroen van parked up. Place name letters cut out of the schist and slate soil.
Chateau Cathare de Queribus. One of the castles of the five sons of Carcassonne. High and isolated. Altitude 728m. 42-50’11N2-37’16″E.
Four years in age difference between the two brothers. In their late forties they continue the work they have always done. Except for a five year spell when the younger brother bought into a garage business with a friend. A wearisome venture that turned soured family relationships and created a rift.
Raymond the elder of the two lived on the outskirts of town with his demure wife and roost of chickens. Whilst Sebastien had a place more central and was a somewhat gregarious character.
They were toiling when the red car turned off the D117. Furtively looking at each other as the car with open windows and music blaring made its way upward passed the parked H van. They knew that on the descent the car would stop and a mini photo shoot would take place
Raymond had wanted to replace the van with something more modern. But Sebastien refused; it was as much part of the business as the vines themselves.
I remember we drove to Prades. Arun telling me painters had gone there for the light. I told him the town had been the adopted home of the cellist Pablo Casals. Arun said nothing for a moment. I thought of how Serge had played me Song of the Birds. When I looked through his record collection I found a box set of Bach’s Cello Suites.
August. Beneath the parasol. Sofa damp. Serge rolls a lime on the table. Cuts it. Squeezes it on a glass citron press. Fills a double measure plus one of tequila into a glass and adds the lime juice. Plonks in some ice cubes.
Come on, he says with a wry smile, those artists went to Collioure and Prades for the food and wine and to get away from shit in Paris. Maybe under the excuse of exquisite light.