Low life

A hidden side of the Somme

11 December 2021 9:00 am

Noticing via this Low Life column that I had trench fever, the Western Front Association treated me to a year’s…

French kissing with the French

4 December 2021 9:00 am

Every year Vernon celebrates the gathering in and pressing of his olive harvest by inviting friends to a ceremony at…

The joy of French hospital food

27 November 2021 9:00 am

After checking me in, the receptionist, who was wearing an overcoat, said: ‘There is no heating in the hotel. The…

My moment of madness in the opticians

20 November 2021 9:00 am

Foolishly I chose new specs in the village optician’s after a long lunch: a rather outré design that I might…

A tale of bitter brotherly rivalry

13 November 2021 9:00 am

For early humans there was no distinction between spirit and matter. There was no idea of self; no barrier between…

The healing power of champagne

6 November 2021 9:00 am

The day after Catriona was fitted with a plaster cast and crutches, her elder sister arrived from the UK for…

Life amid Catriona’s cleaning regime

30 October 2021 9:00 am

Earlier in this run of glorious October sunshine I was languishing on the bed in the middle of the afternoon…

My happiness has given way to a paralysing melancholy

23 October 2021 9:00 am

From our hypothetical drone-mounted camera let us look down into a secluded valley in the same series of valleys as…

Acorns and aliens: lunch with Vernon and the Ukrainians

16 October 2021 9:00 am

Catriona and I were late for lunch at Vernon’s because I couldn’t get out of bed. The four of them…

The downfall of the French middle class

9 October 2021 9:00 am

The chesty Corsican taxi driver was giving me his earnest appraisal of the way things were headed in France politically.…

Sally Rooney on steroids

2 October 2021 9:00 am

To lessen the side effects of chemotherapy I am prescribed a corticosteroid. I take a whopping dose around the treatment…

Why I’m touchy about being asked what I do for a living

25 September 2021 9:00 am

In former times I had acquaintances of long standing, or even friends, who never once asked what I did for…

I rather enjoy my chemotherapy sessions

18 September 2021 9:00 am

With a French health card everything is free for us cancer patients, even taxis to and from the hospital. ‘This…

A tale of refugees from ‘Brexit Britain’

11 September 2021 9:00 am

In the New Year I was introduced to a couple who had fled Britain impulsively on New Year’s Eve with…

Was I the picture of evil incarnate?

4 September 2021 9:00 am

Not long after Catriona and I first met, her husband painted my head and shoulders portrait in oils as I…

How I love England — despite the hellhole that is Gatwick airport

28 August 2021 9:00 am

At Gatwick airport, after an hour and 15 minutes in a snaking queue system apparently purposely designed to infect as…

A tale of many swimming pools

21 August 2021 9:00 am

My two grandsons are staying with us here in Provence for a week. Roman soldier Catriona flew from Marseille to…

From ferreter to animal-rights champion

14 August 2021 9:00 am

I was sitting quite still at the typewriter when a plump mouse emerged from under the fridge and crossed the…

The art of losing your hair

7 August 2021 9:00 am

Although fatigued to the point of catatonia, and sitting there like a 19th-century Fang funeral mask, I am glad to…

A date with destiny – and chemotherapy

31 July 2021 9:00 am

I was shown to a room divided into three cubicles, each with a reclining chair and bed table. In the…

A very annoying guide to the Somme battlefields

24 July 2021 9:00 am

We arranged to meet the second, more expensive, guide of our Somme battlefield visit at the Thiepval Memorial visitor centre…

Walking the Somme

17 July 2021 9:00 am

Where the 36th (Ulster) Division attacked at 7.30 a.m. on the first morning of the Battle of the Somme in…

Help! I’m restaurant-phobic

10 July 2021 9:00 am

Vernon fancies this new age elfin-faced French woman who owns and runs a restaurant. She’s hard-working, she’s a reader, and…

It’s the end of lockdown – and the village has gone wild

3 July 2021 9:00 am

The village square is a long and pedestrianised oblong shaded along its length by massive pollarded plane trees. It’s known…

Jason Ricci is my mentor, guru and anointed one

19 June 2021 9:00 am

A second week recovering in bed in this pleasant south-facing bedroom. If I sit up, my back resting against whitewashed…