14th May, Saturday
The flight descended to Nice over pale red roofs looking more washed-out than baked. Palm trees were new to me the previous time, in May 1998. When I got here I couldn’t contact M. N’s text messages then guided me to the accommodation and I left my bag at reception before heading off to Morrison’s, the pub I hadn’t managed to find by the night The General won a big prize in the festival, in 1998. While I was there, a text from S. told me he’d probably passed out in the apartment because that was what he’d done to him, last year.
Half past one, Irish time. When I gave his name at reception the black lad found it on a sheet and brought it and me (with my bag) upstairs. He unlocked the door and looked in and around it, to the left. Then his head re-emerged. Il dort (‘He sleeps’). M. is snoring in there now, on and off, fully dressed. I looked for any food, snacks, but there’s only a small bottle of Power’s whiskey. The Irish Film Board party was on earlier. This is bullshit.
15th May, Sunday
1 pm on the balcony. He burst into my room at 5.15 this morning. “I found you!” he exclaimed. It turned out he’d walked away from wherever he was. White wine was involved. They had kept refilling his glass. Jim McDaid, our former Cabinet minister, gave that explanation for driving the wrong way down a motorway. Anyway, he, not Jim, had collapsed here at ten.
A little bottle of Stella is €11 in the bar of the Carlton. We went in there after picking up my badge and stopping off at the Irish Pavilion. From there we managed to find La Pharmacie du Festival, which then enabled M. to have three small beers in the Quay’s pub. I suggested dining on the way back to base.
I knew he wouldn’t stir later but I too slept for a couple of hours. Then I showered again and headed off by ten.
I climbed Le Suquet and took some photos of the night view; I got some ice cream on the side of the street below; and I went to Morrison’s. There I met an English director called Alan. He looked like he’d had a long day in his suit but I had three pints with him before he’d had enough, finally.
I didn’t stay too long after him but on the way home via the Quay’s I stopped in McDonald’s where a French boy called Thomas, with sunglasses (on) and some kind of movie or video camera under his arm put his talk on me, as my father would say. He was on something, I’d say. The queue was going nowhere so when some big beard came in and started talking to him I left. The Quay’s was boring and when a Limerick group formed nearby I didn’t want to listen.
16th May, Monday
This morning I climbed Le Suquet again for some daylight shots. Then I got the hill from La Croisette.
Later we went to Antibes. From there the Alps were snowy, far to the east. On the train down there a uniformed little conductress let us on last before she gave the all-clear to proceed. Her peaked cap was nearly bigger than herself but when I got a rear view of her grey pants I told M. that an arse like that wouldn’t be seen on CIE (Irish Rail).
The Felix au Port in the vieux port in Antibes is now the Felix Café. After a ritual stop there in honour of Graham Greene we walked around and did some shopping. He got some dried lavender, as ordered by N., plus a couple of sailor tops for the baby. We sat down again at the Hop Store for another beer. At the nearest table, a beautiful girl was doing all the talking, holding court like an actress, but for a gorgeous chatterbox she looked humane. “J’étais folle, j’étais folle,” (‘I was mad, I was mad’) was the end of one story. She wasn’t skinny like a model either. She was normal for one so lovely. She had dark skin, short dark hair, white teeth: she looked French but with no hauteur. She wouldn’t have passed for any other Mediterranean nationality. She was at a low table, we were at a high one, and several times she glanced up at me looking down at her. Then M. looked down to see what a pigeon was doing under my feet. It was sucking water from the grooves of a metal insert in the flagstone (a manhole). Then another pigeon opportunistically started to ride it. M. started to laugh. When the nearby beauty was leaving, her parting words to those left at the table were “Bonne soirée!” Her mannerisms reminded me of an Irish girl more than a French one.
17th May, Tuesday
Lying in bed before noon. We didn’t do much last night. We had dinner in the Babord half of the Babord Tribord, down by the boats, and then had one drink on the grass at the Grand. My flight home isn’t until ten tonight.
We went swimming at the beach nearby but later I didn’t enjoy the swarm in the hot sun down by the Palais, where the red carpet was being used for something and the CRS were blowing whistles, trying to manage both the pedestrian and the motor traffic. At night the monkey suits mill around the Palais.
I got another one euro ticket back to the airport later but, though I said, “Terminal un, monsieur, s’il vous plaît” to the guy when I boarded and he looked at me and said “Devant”, I thought he meant immediately devant. In other words, I thought the airport was the bus terminus. It wasn’t. The guy pulled up near the airport on the route nationale but said nothing. He closed the bus doors again and I stayed on for long enough to incur a half hour on foot, back the way. I wasn’t going to pay more than one euro over this f*cker. Before I disembarked, I told him I was a foreigner and it would have been kind, a little shout, but he said “Je peux pas le faire pour tout le monde” (‘I can’t do it for everybody’). So, when he opened the door, I dropped the diplomatic language with, “Merci beaucoup, con!”