We’re having roast duck for Christmas – the whole thing so there’s no mistaking leg for breast. Eric and I picked one up from the butcher this morning and, though he was kind enough to go behind closed doors to remove the head, we had to watch him do all sorts of intimate things to the poor guy before trussing him up with string.
Then we went to the train station in Limoges to pick Hazel up, with Eric’s daughter and her boyfriend who are here with us. They arrived on Monday by train from England, about an hour after we arrived by car from England. Silly, that we couldn’t have driven down with them but the car was so full of assorted guitars and P.A. equipment and the odd Christmas present that there was barely room for us.
At the beautiful Benedictins station we all went onto the platform to wait for Hazel’s train from Paris when police started appearing all up and down the steps and on the platform. They gruffly directed everyone to go back upstairs for cinq minutes. It all looked pretty sinister. Murmurs that they would be looking for someone on the train.
Of course my mind was fixed on Hazel – was she alright? As the train pulled into the station we could see police officers crouching on the stairs – ready for what?
They kept holding people back from going down the stairs with no explanation, and they weren’t allowing anyone to get off either. A man dressed in Limoges-style “casual” civilian clothes (ie v-neck sweater, grey wool trousers, white shirt) pushed through the crowd at the top of the stairs and onto the platform, shaking hands all around. He seemed to be in charge of the whole operation but there was a distinct impression nobody knew exactly what they were supposed to be doing.
Finally they let people off the train but when it pulled away and the last passenger had come up the stairs Hazel wasn’t there.
All of a sudden it didn’t feel so great to be the only people in Europe without a mobile phone. But we figured she’d be on the next train, and went to a cafe for some lunch.
We’ve finally found the one decent cafe in Limoges – it looks like you want a cafe to look, with the huge mirrors, dark wood and old murals on the walls. In this case, “old” means possibly late 70’s but given that nowadays most cafes have been remodeled and filled with molded plastic and faux marble it’s got something going for it.
When we went back for the next train, still no Hazel. We were starting to get worried. In our rush to get the duck and groceries I had neglected to check that the flight had arrived on time. I think the strain and exhaustion of four months of almost non-stop touring probably had something to do with it. It has definitely pushed me over the edge in terms of being able to think straight. Add to that the general holiday muddle, where you just want things to go well and will it to be so. Our plan was to pick Hazel up and go get the Christmas tree and a few more things we needed and goddammit that is exactly how it had to be.
Eventually the poor girl did arrive, but by that time it was too late to get a tree or anything. Still, we were all together and that’s what matters in the end – there was foie gras and Champagne and the kids watching Reservoir Dogs. And duck for Christmas, that I’m willing to be cooked to perfection.