I am back, and Dieppe was as restorative as ever - though making the journey by rail is a pretty gruelling business. Eurostar is fine, but crossing Paris always grim, whether by Metro - worse signage than the London Underground - or by taxi, through the impossible traffic. On the way out, in fact, things turned positively English when the train for Rouen (to connect for Dieppe) sat endlessly in the station, with occasional announcements hinting at mysterious technical faults. The result was a case of rater la correspondence, and a late, hot and bedraggled arrival in Dieppe. All this to avoid staying overnight in grisly Newhaven and getting up ridiculously early for the only practicable ferry of the day. Oh for the old days, when the ferries were frequent and sailed right into town. To disembark, cross the street and walk straight into a restaurant for lunch is now a long-lost pleasure...
However, Dieppe retains its peculiar charm - the shades of Sickert and Wilde, Ginner and Blanche and all the company of les Anglais from the port's heyday can still be faintly discerned; the air is at once bracing and soporific, in the best seaside manner; and the light is quietly extraordinary - no wonder the place was so popular with painters. And there is enough there to keep the flaneur pleasantly stimulated. The food - especially, of course, sea food - is superb, though I must report that one of the town's best restaurants, La Melie, has gone, and there are worrying signs of others closing down. We Anglais must renew our efforts to keep Dieppe thriving.
Anyway, here I am, back again, and the world seems much as it was when I left it. Funny how we always expect significant things to have happened in our absence - and imagine we've been away for ages when it's only a few days. Time stretches on holiday, the more so for changes of location. And the mind goes fuzzy and disengaged, which is probably the best way for a mind to be. But it won't last. One more day and NigeCorp reclaims me.
Or not. An email in my inbox from a charming gentleman in China called Mr Yao Guoping informs me that he can, with a stroke of the pen, secure me a handsome share in an abandoned sum of US $20 million he's come across. How very kind of him to think of me. I might never need to work again.