Sunday, February 25, 2007

Not Trying To Be Funny Or Clever, For Once

Wyndham and cello both kindly asked how I felt about moving back to France again.

I'm not keen to talk too much about this situation, because a lot of people are emotionally or logistically involved in one way or another, and some of the people involved read this blog, and some of the people involved don't read this blog, and it doesn't seem right to talk about any of these people too much.

So the basic story is this: my mum lives on her own in the rural south of France, in a house that I bought for her after she and my dad split up. She is very ill with cancer, and she had some chemotherapy, which has helped a bit but not entirely, and now she needs a lot of looking after.

For the last eight months my lovely brother and I have been taking it in turns to spend a few weeks down here, but for reasons I won't go into, it makes more sense for me to take over full time, at least for the next year or so.

So I've given up my flat in London, as of the end of April, and the current plan is to move all my effects and belongings down here in the week after Easter.

My feelings on the subject are probably neither here nor there, but they are decidedly mixed. Obviously I am very distressed about my mum, especially as there's nothing I can do to make her any better. Other than that, and apart from the fact that I will have to work remotely, I suppose the three things that worry me most are:

a) The loneliness - that picture in the post below is the view from my terrasse, and as you can see it does not exactly depict civilised society in full throng.

b) My complete lack of practical skills - it's all very well that I am here, but I can barely cook and my looking-after-seriously-ill-people abilities register at about minus 15 on the Florence Nightingale scale. Although I am learning to spend at least some of my time in the real world, however difficult it might be.

c) Maintaining a long-distance relationship - I've done it before and have no qualms about doing it again, but it does become worrying when I don't know how long I will be here, and of all the places his career might be heading, the most rural part of the poorest département of France isn't really likely to be one of them.

So that's it really - everyone has obstacles and problems to contend with in their life, so I'm not seeking sympathy. But it *will* be very nice to know over the coming months that you lovely blog-readers and commenters are there; your (virtual) presence will make a big difference to me.

35 comments:

Cleavers said...

Hi - I read your blog regularly and after this post, felt the need to de-lurk to wish you good luck with everything and I'll keep my fingers crossed that everything works out.

belladona said...

Not perhaps quite the same thing, but when I was ill and confined to my flat for nearly a year, unable to go out almost at all, the interweb made such a vast difference I can't even begin to tell you. I've been trying to write you an email for some weeks now telling you of my internet involvments as requested and I still haven't been able to put into words what a relief and comfort it was to me. It didn't matter anything like so much that I couldn't go to the shops, because there are so very many shiny things easily purchased. It didn't matter that my real-life friends were unable to understand my illness and withdrew completely. Via the internet I already had a couple of friends and I found more and more during the course of my year at home. I connected with people I never would have had the time to find before, people who I believe got something useful out of our relationship, so it wasn't just me looking for comfort - or actually, mostly silliness. I found people who I connected with and had more in common with than anyone I'd met in 'real' life. But then you know this already :)
This is terribly rambly but I'm trying to say that you aren't alone and that I'm often about if you want a chat.

Urban Chick said...

i hugely admire you for making this huge decision and i echo everything belladona says about t'internet (as much as i said in the email i sent you about the same subject, which i hope came through OK)

it has helped me too since i moved cities because although i left behind my 'real life'/meatspace friends, my cyber-buddies came with me, and that has made a HUGE difference, no questions

wishing you the best of luck with the move...

Annie Rhiannon said...

Hello Patroclus, I'm very sorry to hear about your mum, I can't imagine what that must be like. Well done you for going down there full time to look after her though, I really don't think it matters that much that you can't cook, it just matters that you're there for her.

Great big cyber hugs to you, from your "blogchum" AR xxx

cello said...

There's no getting rid of us.

You will never, never regret doing this.

As for a temporary long-distance relationship, read Donne's A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning for some solace.

Sylvia said...

It's a big decision to make, and I'm sure your mother is v appreciative of what you're doing for her. Having been stuck in rural France for some time myself, I can only say that it would have been made a lot more bearable if the internet had existed over 20 years ago!
As for practical skills, pah! I run a house and look after my husband and three children with no practical skills whatsoever!
Thinking of you.....

Tim Footman said...

Who needs practical skills? Don't they have Le Pot Noodle down there?

Big hugs,

T x

Mangonel said...

Bugger it.

Selfish really - I used to live in Chiswick, and every time you mentioned the High Road, or M&S , or Mr Henry blogging in a Chiswick cafe, I'd be there too.

God go with you, P.

Fat Roland said...

What Cello said. And also, I looked after my very ill father, and I have absolutely no practical skills. But you'll surprise yourself, trust me.

If I'm passing through southern France, I'll come and tap dance* for you. You'll be so entertained, you'll never feel lonely again.

*I have absolutely no tap-dancing skills either

patroclus said...

Ahhhh, you lot are *lovely*. Thank you for that, and thanks to Tim and Fat Roland for making me laugh too. I can only imagine how rubbish it would be down here without the internet. Well actually, no, I know how rubbish it would be - that's why 2004 is missing from my blog archive. But now I have broadband, hurrah, it's almost like living in London, only with more almond blossom and mimosa.

UC: I did get your email, thank you very much, and it was shockingly remiss of me not to reply. Now I am thinking about the book again, I am coming back to looking at all the emails again, so will be in touch!

FR: You are most welcome to come and tap-dance, I have large tracts of ceramic floor tiles that seem tailor-made for the purpose. And if anyone else is planning to pass through the Languedoc at any time, please do come and visit. I promise not to cook.

llewtrah said...

We're all out here for you. Let us know if you do make it back to blighty on occasion so we can all go and get hoonahed (as Billy would say).

It's amazing how you pick up practical skills when there's no other option. Meanwhile, observe those around you, change the names around and give Joanne Harris a run for her money! Or do a modern day Clochemerle :)

chatterbox said...

I normally lurk, and have only met you once, briefly, in real life, but the power of the internet is summed up in the fact that I feel the need to wish you and your mum all the best.

Practical skills aren't important, caring is what matters x

prolix said...

Like the last commenter - except that I've never even met you - I still feel compelled to wish you and your mum all the best. I'm here for the long haul - which is meant to sound reassuring but on re-reading has a stalkerish ring to it. Ignore that.

Betty said...

Yes, we're all here. I don't know what to say except to wish good luck to you and your mum.

Marsha Klein said...

There's nothing like the acute illness of a parent for making you feel that you are that most over-rated (and often illusive) of things - a "real" grown-up. My dad's deteriorating health made me feel this in a way that even having my children hadn't. It was a bit rubbish, really. Having said that, it is also true, as many previous commenters have said, that the most important thing we can give to those we love is time. Obviously, this move means that some of those you love will be, temporarily, denied your physical presence but, thanks to the web, you can still give them your time.

This all sounds terribly pompous, which was not my intention. Sorry.

Like cello said I think you stuck with us all now!

Wonderland said...

Hi. I'm a lurker too (though we did know each other years ago at uni) and thought it time to come out. I have no experience of moving to the middle of nowhere, nor of caring for someone who's very ill, but I have experienced cancer myself, and I know how much having my family around me helped me cope. I wish you and all your family the best at this stressful time.

Sylvia said...

Following on from Cello's reference to Donne, Feb 07's Scarlet magazine, p.26, has an article you might want to take a look at......

patroclus said...

Thanks again to everyone, it's much appreciated.

Wonderland, it's great to see you! I'm really sorry to hear that you've been ill. From what you say, it sounds like you're better now. I very much hope so.

Sylvia: Given as how I'm out of reach of the saucier end of the British media (although I do have full and unrestricted access to the bleeding Sunday 'Printed in Marseilles!' Times), would you care to divulge further? (Although I suspect I might have to put my hands over my ears and go 'lalalalala').

realdoc said...

I know I'm a bit late but i just wanted to echo what chatterbox said, the practical skills are easily picked up, what ill people need around them are familiar faces and someone they trust. Being there will be enough. Good luck.

Wonderland said...

Yes, I am better now, touch wood. Though as you probably know all too well, this cancer malarkey does hang over you for ever. Anyway, I know that my family were probably more affected by the stress and worry of it than I was, so I really do feel for you. I'll be thinking of you.

Sylvia said...

Since I have few opportunities to read these publications, P, all I can tell you is that the article involved a webcam......I will say no more.

clodhopper said...

Patroclus.....with you all the way. I had to do the same thing for my mum and it was bloody hard going. What will you need sending? Marmite? HP Sauce? Videos of Life on Mars? You just name it.

Matt said...

All the best to you Patroclus: it's a very admirable thing you are doing.

patroclus said...

Realdoc: thanks for the reassurance.

K: glad to know that you are better; take care of yourself.

Sylvia: I can't think of webcams without thinking of Leslie Grantham, and...just...brrr.

Clodhopper: that is very sweet of you. At the moment I have everything I need, even piccalilli. But if I ever get a craving for Smash (which has been known), I'll let you know!

Matt: why thank you very much. It is just what anyone would do, I think.

Annie said...

I wanted to say on your last post 'it makes no difference to us where you are' but that sounded kind of callous - I meant it in a nice way - in cyberspace it makes no odds.

Taiga the Fox said...

I'm sorry to hear about your mum, Patroclus. Good luck with everything.

Oh, by the way, I think the view from your terrasse looks really lovely.

soph said...

I often lurk around here (hey, its your own fault for posting those twee indie tunes and talking about clever meejah-type things from time to time), and thought I would come out the woodwork to say good luck. You're so lucky to have all these people, many of whom have never even met you, or even live in the same country, caring about you and your mother. Make sure you treat yourselves to plenty of trips to the coast, especially Collioure and Argeles, for crepes and even more of that beautiful scenery!

patroclus said...

Annie: Aww, thank you! I wouldn't have taken it the wrong way. It is very heartening to know that as long as there is the internet, there is this lovely crowd of people.

Taiga: It is a good view, and there are 16 other houses behind mine, so it's not *completely* isolated (just in case anyone was thinking I'd cruelly forced my mum to live in a house in the middle of nowhere, like that woman in Misery (which I've never seen, so I'm guessing)).

Soph: Thank you, I am indeed very fortunate. Collioure is lovely, but I've never been to Argeles - will check it out. Also, I shall put up more twee indie mp3s soon.

GreatSheElephant said...

Good luck with it all P.

I predict that you'll be fighting off visitors so loneliness won't be a problem.

Valerie said...

Cello's right — you won't regret it. But you may regret posting about it, as now you have a mob ;-) Actually you've had a mob all along, but some of them were rather quieter than I am. Anyway, the gang's all here and will do our best to distract you sufficiently that you won't actually succeed in getting any work done. Wait, I didn't mean that.

Sylvia said...

ooh, P, now you mention it, the webcam thing sounds urgh!

El said...

Another lurker (less frequent now not on maternity leave) who used to know you IRL but I'm from school. Wanted to add my well-wishes, your mum's lucky to have such a lovely daughter.

patroclus said...

Ooh my word, it's you! (I know exactly who you are, although just saying that makes me sound all sinister).

Many thanks for the good wishes, and I'm very happy to know that you're there lurking. Congratulations on the new arrival, too - how many is that now?

El said...

Does sound a bit sinister but prob not as sinister as my stalking - just like to keep tabs on how you're doing! We've got 2 boys now and that's plenty, I'm too old for parenting (though I think it's having kids that's made me old). Glad you don't mind me lurking, maybe I'll be brave and reply to posts occasionally. Good blog by the way.

Ducatilady said...

Hi, I too am de-lurking to wish you the best of luck with your move.
I know you miss the UK dreadfully when you are marooned in deepest France, but this is a wonderful thing you are doing for your Mum, you won't regret it.
I am coming down to stay in Lamalou again this spring for a few weeks,it would be lovely to see you if that is possible...I do tap dance so could bring my tap shoes, and any other british goodies you may be missing!
I will also be bringing my VERY practical husband with me if you need any help of that nature!