Monday, April 12, 2010

Lonely in Cannes

Izzy’s high chair is empty; her little cot hasn’t been slept in. I’m sitting on a balcony overlooking a cloud-blanketed Mediterranean. The forecast was sunny, but this dull weather has pretty much caught my mood.

It started as a good plan. Every April and October for the last 20 years I’ve come down to the Cannes television festival, where people buy and sell programme ideas. That’s 40 weeks of my children’s growing up missed because of late night schmoozing. This time, I thought, as Izzy is so young, why not make it a family do? I had visions of tiny toes touching waves for the first time, of sandcastles and waiters in the restaurants succumbing to her big eyes and love of pasta. So we booked a few extra days before the festival began and rented an apartment with a sea view. We didn’t reckon on the bug.

It hit Jo’s tummy on Tuesday and promptly collided with a fearful respiratory infection. Poor Jo has been confined to bed all week: Saturday’s flight was out of the question. She hasn’t eaten a thing for days, something that her stomach doesn’t seem to have noticed: it still decides it wants to vomit every few hours. Nice one.

As a husband, I’ve learnt a few things not to say this week. Like “Well at least your tummy’s flatter” or “I’m making a nice piece of tuna, would you like some?”, or “I did so want to see Izzy in the sea”. I don’t think they went down very well as each time the large paperback hit my head in roughly the same spot.

I wish I could have stayed to offer more help and support (though I’m not sure how welcome it would have been) but the market beckons. One good sale could keep our company going for a year: it’s an event we can’t afford to miss.

I so wish Easyjet flew to Nice every day so I could have delayed my flight till the festival starts. I’m stuck here like a sad out of season tourist.

The trip down was greatly enhanced by a rather mature purser, or Senior Cabin Crew, as his badge called him, with a strong West Country burr. A stand-in from Bristol depot or office or whatever airlines have, he confided to me that he couldn’t understand a single word his Newcastle-based colleagues were saying.

He was very jolly, and clearly Easyjet had introduced some sort of incentivisation scheme for the onboard catering. “Good choice, sir, you’ll definitely enjoy that”, he said rather too loudly as I ordered a ham and cheese melt. “Oh, the Starbucks coffee too, that’s a great decision. It’s an excellent blend.” I wondered if he was an exile from British Airways first class. Then he made a tannoy announcement extolling the virtues of the “absolutely delicious” egg sandwiches, which he highly recommended as they were made from the airline’s own Easylay eggs. There was a hen party on board: I think they already had Easylay written on their foreheads, if you know what I mean.

When I arrived I decided to get the taste of Easysandwich out of my mouth, so I wandered down to a seafront restaurant and ordered bouillabaisse piled high with fish, mussels and prawns. I never remember whether you’re allowed to eat crustacea with or without an r in the month, but hey, I have the stomach of an ox. By the time I finished I never wanted to see another fish again.

The seafood had other ideas. Two hours later, I began to see them all again. I’ve been up all night and I know exactly how Jo feels. She says she’s given me something to remember her by. She also promises she won’t mention tuna, but is very much looking forward to seeing my flatter stomach when I get home.

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