Thoughts on Holidays in the Vendée or Sitting In An Aquarium as the Good Lord Mocketh

After crossing a creative desert, an encouter with the Messiah in a traffic jam during a deluge has provided some inspiration.

Thoughts on Holidays in the Vendée or Sitting In An Aquarium as the Good Lord Mocketh

A slug slow, snaking slur of traffic, crawling its way into the small French Atlantic coastal resort of Jards sur Mer – Stuck in an almighty traffic jam. In traffic terms we are at virtual gridlock. In jam terms, we are thick set, almost solid like someone has just added a little too much gelatine to the original recipe.

At least I am in the comfort of my own car. Oh pity the poor cyclists who are pedaling hard along the cycleway that runs parallel to the main road; battling the elements: storm force winds and rain that thunders down in Biblical proportions from never-ending leaden skies. Grey, dark grey, almost black as far as the eye can see, though sitting here, as the rain hammers down on the car, I can hardly see the car in front even with my windscreen wipers whizzing wildly at full speed – they just can’t clear the water quick enough – this is perhaps the closest I will ever come to sitting in an aquarium.

After an eternity, the line of traffic miraculously advances a couple of hundred yards, just enough to make it up to the roundabout marking the entrance to town. There, in the middle of the roundabout stands a huge statue of Jesus. Huge? This is the cast in Stalinist proportions. All in flowing robes with «manicured» hair and the benevolent smile of an insurance salesman; the Good Lord has his arms outstretched in a gesture of welcome.

Snaking round the Messiah, I’m not so sure that his smile is so benevolent; there’s a hint of irony . On the opposite side of the road, a huge hoarding screams «Vive léte» in enormous gaudy fluorescent pink orange and yellow letters. «Long Live Summer» in this biblcal deluge that the TV weathermen qualified as «isolated heavy showers». The whole of the Western coast of France is being battered by winds and dreched by rains, that might even give Noah himself second thoughts about casting off – and every summer it is the same story on the Atlantic Coast; one or two reasonable days of sunshine, when the winds blowing across the beach abate just enough that you don’t have to be physically anchored to the sand for fear of blowing away, and, when there is just enough sun to remind you that it is summmer, and, the sea is just warm enough to venture a «swim» without having to dress up like a deep sea diver. Oh Lord, why did we come here?

So, sitting here in the deluge, I sneak a glance back at our Lord’s benevolent smile. Perhaps it is the optical effect of the rain I swear the Messiah’s smile has changed from benevolent, to ironic, to almost mocking. Surely the good Lord isn’t taking the piss as it pisses down outside?

The deluge seems to have done little though to dampen the determination of holiday makers to imbibe of the holiday spirit down to the very last drop. When we should be wearing oilskins and sowesters synonymous with those rugged fishermen of old, as they braved the harsh North Atlantic storms, we holiday makers are running around in shorts and T shirts and flimsy summer shoes. Of course we are. This is summer. I am on holiday and even if the outside temperature feels like late Autumn, I will still wear my summer attire. We are all mad and I suppose you have to be a little mad to come here on holiday.

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