10 May

Thoughts of home

I was born in Chatillon-sur-Seine, where the river that eventually flows through Paris is no wider than my kitchen! It is a smallish town, in a very rural and satisfyingly French part of the country. Other than the quiet cul-de-sac I grew up on, I only have vague memories of the rest of the town, but I am sure it still feels, looks and smells quintessentially French.

You know the feeling: take a good look and a deep sniff. You could not be anywhere else but in France. In the same way that particular cinnamon ‘taste’ in the air tells you you’ve landed in America or that the spices in the air let you know you’ve arrived in Hong Kong.

I’ve been thinking of going back to Chatillon, for old time’s sake, and GoogleEarthing it does bring back memories of endless hours spent outside with all the neighbourhood kids playing silly games and eating our goûter in the field at the end of the road, watching the small aircraft taking flight.

But don’t get me started on childhood memories, or you’ll hear terrifying stories of church robbers and games of marbles in the churchyard. Don’t ask…