#9: A Cannes Do Attitude
I emerged through the arrivals gate and strode, as if this happens all the time, towards the uniformed chauffeur holding up my name written on a notepad. ‘Monsieur Ian Moore’ it said, and five minutes later I was stretching out in the back of a black Mercedes Benz limousine and being driven through the evening sun and along the French Riviera. That same morning, with a full B&B, I had prepared the breakfasts for, changed the linen after, and cleaned the bathrooms of nine people. Then I’d driven two hours to Paris Orly airport, had a well deserved beer on the flight down before having my battered suitcase carried to reception for me at the Five Star Hotel Martinez in Cannes. My head was in a spin and I wasn’t sure whether to tip the concierge or ask if they wanted any rooms cleaning.
It’s fun to imagine that you belong in a world like Cannes. The small car park at the front of the hotel was stuffed with jet black, matt finish sports cars and harassed valet parking attendants. The male guests, generally overweight, with deep tans the colour of 1970s G-Plan furniture and the women, most of whom had an upper lip botox so badly done they all looked the same, like they’d been CGI’d as background artists in Cats and boob jobs barely hidden under vest tops, defying gravity and credibility. Every other person also seemed to carry a small dog in a bag too and the dogs, some sporting top knots looked as permanently surprised as their botoxed owners, never blinking like they were trying to take in the ridiculousness of it all as well. I thought back to Kipper, our English Setter puppy, who that morning had been pampered himself as one of the B&B guests said his mother had an older one of the same breed.
‘Do they ever calm down?’ I asked, hopefully.
’No,’ was the reply, ‘my mum’s dog’s still eating his own shit and he’s three years old.’
I looked at Kipper, who took this as his cue to leave but rather than take the traditional route through the open door, went the wrong side, Inspector Clouseau style, and walked into a wall. ‘Yep,’ said the guest, ‘that’s an English Setter alright.’
And then there’s GiGi, our Chiweenie cross who is now so fat, grief hit her hard poor thing, that another guest asked if she was a footstool.
Neither of them would have liked Cannes. I did though. As long as you accept the absurdity of the place and the people, it’s fun. Like a theme park, or a circus, for millionaires. And though I’d been swept through via limo and concierge and so on, I was no more a part of this tribe than I am a loin-cloth sporting Amazonian fisherman with bark hanging off his ears. It’s not a different world, it’s a different universe and I sat in the bar ostensibly preparing for my gig but actually taking notes at some of the characters wandering through, so desperate to be looked at. Peacocking they call it and – I’m not ashamed to admit – I was doing exactly the same.
And why not? I had the sense that I was fresh blood. I came out of my room, the taps were disappointingly not as shiny as I manage in my place by the way, just as an attractive woman in a sarong appeared round the corner, a good few seconds after her pneumatic chest it has to be said. ‘Bonsoir,’ she said sultrily and I couldn’t help giggling. It felt so comedic, I was a complete fish out of water. I felt like I was in a Bob Hope film, trying my best to fit in but my true childish level bubbling just under the surface.
‘I’ll knock on your door at midnight,’ I daydreamed the sultry bouncy castle as saying.
‘How come?’ I’d reply, ‘Do you deliver room service?’ Maybe I was being influenced by all the black and white movie star portraits adorning the walls. She disappeared into her room as my eyes glazed over and my inner monologue switched from Hope to Homer, ‘Mmmm,’ it went, ‘room service.’ I obviously don’t do room service at my own place which is not to say that I’m not on call 24 hours a day; I once got a call at midnight on a Sunday to a jittery lesbian couple who wanted the ‘enormous hairy spider’ removed from the their bedroom ceiling. I kid you not.
I sat at the bar later that night. It had been a successful gig, I was having a late glass of rosé and I felt like I’d earned the right. Thirty-six hours later though, I was just in my pants and being physically prodded at by a short-tempered Romanian. While I’d enjoyed my brief comedy attack raid on Cannes it came with a price, I was in severe physical pain on the Sunday night and by Monday morning in full-on whiny mode, complaining – not without some truth – of pain in all my joints.
‘We have only just started the medication,’ the Rheumatologist said, as if I should have realised that, which I should have. ‘Anyway, take your clothes off, let’s have a look.’
I knew this was coming and had dressed accordingly, sweat pants, trainers and a Henley top. Pretty much, for me anyway, a career ending outfit but one that served its purpose in these surroundings and I had no intention of being seen by the world anyway. I threw the discarded clothes on the floor, my feelings about leisurewear summed up in the angry, childish gesture and she told me off. I knew what was coming though, and I think I’d avoided confronting it. The physical deterioration is striking. I’ve purposely avoided too much travel but despite that the weakness in my arms and legs gets more pronounced and my levels of fatigue almost narcoleptic. She sat me down at her desk again, after telling me to get dressed. She was upping the dose of my weekly immune suppressant injection, and with it came a reminder that this is just the start of the treatment, ‘You’re condition is chronic,’ she said, ‘it’s not going away.’
That’s the bit I’d been avoiding. I had ignorantly, deliberately assumed that the drugs would work their magic and I’d be gooning about like Kipper within months, back to an energetic, sprightly self. Actually I’ve never been energetic or sprightly, but that’s not the point. I took myself off after the appointment to a secluded spot by the river Cher to have some thinking time. In an effort to add more peace to my life, less chasing my own tail or slavishly adhering to the tyranny of a ‘To do…’ list like the world will explode if I haven’t ticked everything off by dinner time, I needed some calm and water always does that. Seriously though, with the ‘To Do…’ list, I woke Natalie at 3am last week, gripping her arm and fretting about not putting enough salt in the dishwasher. Nobody needs that.
I picked at the grass at my feet. Chronic, not going away, I thought again, this is it. Take a proper look at your lifestyle Ian, moods, diet, everything or watch yourself fall apart inch by inch. A coach party arrived disturbing my melancholia. A big blue bus full of old people here to take the boat trip down river and under the arches of the magnificent Chateau de Chenonceau. They slowly descended from the bus, all of them stretching their tired, worn out limbs and all of them in some form of garish leisurewear, the uniform of the travelling old, comfort clothing, Mao’s cultural revolution uniform supplied by Dr Scholl.
I stood up, stretching my own, tired, worn-out limbs as I did so, dusted the soil and dust off my own comfort apparel and limped back to the car. I felt like Scrooge just after he’s met the ghost of Christmas Future, only this wasn’t just future, it was present. I sat back in my car seat, giving my body time to adapt to the new posture, allowing the spiky pain to ebb a little. Things have to change, I decided, some might say belatedly. And in an effort to kickstart the new tranquility drive I changed the settings on my SatNav so that I could just meander the country route home; I also googled whether rosé is good or bad for chronic inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis. Well, it’s a start isn’t it?
The ‘Monsieur So British…’ blog carries on from my two best-selling books, ‘À la Mod…’ and ‘C’est Modnifique!’ both published by Summersdale and available here. This blog will also appear as a podcast every fortnight. It’s here on itunes if you’d like a listen. they’re only 15 minutes long…
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