One day, they will invent a time machine and you will be able to go wherever you want. But until then, you will have to settle for the little time machine that hides in your iPod. It plays this track as you walk home from the pub in the brilliant sunshine that shows no signs of fading:
Masters of the Hemisphere – Anything, Anything
In an instant, you are transported back to that holiday in Normandy seven years ago. You are staying in a farmhouse with your father, your stepmother and your girlfriend. By this stage your relationship with her has deteriorated to the stage where you only bother to be civil when other people are in the room, and sometimes not even then. By now, that has become normal to you. Not that your father notices the undercurrents. He is a man who has turned obliviousness into an art form.
Of course, he is also unaware of that.
On the second day you go to Rouen where you look round the cathedral and hide from the rain. You can empathise with Joan of Arc. If you lived here, or went on holiday with your girlfriend again, you would want to set yourself on fire. You take some photos on a film you will never develop of a relationship that never has.
Back in the room you listen to that record over and over while your girlfriend has one of her interminable baths. You think you are reading your book, but only because you can’t admit to yourself that you spend all the time wondering whether you should leave your girlfriend and thinking about your friend who you meet for coffee every morning and talk to all the time. But you don’t know if she is as keen on you as she seems and you will never find out.
The other guests at the farmhouse are Daily Mail reading reactionaries. You and your father spend the evenings at dinner baiting them, like a tag team. At one point he looks at you with what could be mistaken for pride, in a dimmer light than this.
The women fall asleep on the seven hour ferry trip home. You sit with your father in a tacky lounge on board surrounded by tracksuits and bored, angry children pumped full of additives. He is doing the Telegraph cryptic crossword and you manage to solve several of the clues for him. It passes for bonding, on what has passed for a holiday.
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