Stressed in Le Touquet (OS036)

Previously: I’m in Le Touquet with Pam my lodger. We’re just good friends but decided to go on a road trip to avoid mal Evolent my other (not so pleasant) lodger. Since leaving, the police attempted to arrest Mal for cybercrime. He got away, setting off an explosion in his room, in MY HOUSE, in the process.  Now I’m concerned that the police may think I’m involved in cybercrime something I’m totally innocent of. So, for the moment we’re on this road trip and not returning to the UK.

Having just got up, I was tucking into my cornflakes when Pam said,

“Oliver I’ve got to say you’re looking a bit stressed at the moment.”

“Well, I’m just not sure when we can return home. Not sleeping too well and feeling a bit rough. I’m thinking about ringing 111 to get some advice.”

“I don’t think it will work in France. You’ll have to ring une, une ,une.”

“Will that work? It won’t will it? You’re winding me up, aren’t you Pam?”

“Yes, sorry. You could check out the NHS websites and I’ve been where you are, stressed out, but got through it. It was when I worked in my Dad’s business in HR department.”

“Human Resources. I’m impressed, that can be quite stressful.”

“Not exactly, it was the ‘High Rate’ department. I wanted to call it the Complaints department. Dad said it was for irate customers but he thought ‘irate’ was ‘high rate’ so that’s what they called the department.”

“Complaints. that’s even more stressful.”

“Yes, he realised in the end that I was getting stressed and we agreed that I should move to the IT Department.”

“Wow, I never knew you were into computers.”

“I’m not, it was the ‘Individual Therapy’ department. I’d read quite a bit about stress and I used to lend people my books and talk to them. I went on an excellent course once. I’m a lot better now than I was. I’d lend you the book I got on the course but I don’t have it with me. Here’s the link though.

“Shut Up, Move On. That’s a blunt title.”

“Don’t knock it. All will be clear if you read it. You might want to read this one as well. It makes you think and it has got some really good reviews.”

“Thanks, I’ll order them. Not sure I’ll get them to deliver here though.”

“I’ll have a chat with the farmer. Check out Meditation Oasis as well. Great meditation website for axiety, stress and loads more. Anyway, we’re in Le Touquet, the sun’s out and the beach is around the corner. Let’s go.”

We wandered around the town most of the morning and lunched at one of the friendly beach restaurants. The menu got the better of me and Pam interpreted whilst ordering a main course for us.

“I thought you ordered me a beefburger?” as the squid arrived.

“and chips?” as I spotted the shellfish on the side.

“Oh they must have got it wrong” chuckled Pam as she tucked into her … salad”.

We walked along the awesome beach and both paddled in the water popping into the village to pick up a portable BBQ and some meat. We then chilled on the beach for hours.

It was getting too late in the afternoon when we set up the BBQ and threw on a few sausages and chicken. It was smelling great and I was just buttering some bread when a stray dog darted from between the dunes and grabbed a piece of chicken off the barbecue.

“No, it’s too hot” we yelled in unison but the dog ran into the sea and dropped it in there for a second before devouring it.

“That’s one smart dog, cooling the chicken. Poor thing, it looks starving” said Pam as it lay on the beach looking at us eating.

“Come on girl.” I said holding out a cooled sausage. It tentatively moved closer and grabbed the sausage, laying down just a few feet away now.

The sun started to go down and the beach was slowly emptying of visitors. We’d gained a new friend in ‘Camile’ our loyal, black poodle as Pam named him.

“It means ‘free-born’” Pam said.

That seemed a good name. She got less and less timid until she lay between us. We had a game of sticks with Camile and we eventually settled down on the sand aided by a couple of glasses of red wine. Camile, lay beside us until it was getting dusk.

We wandered back to the van, the three of us and Camile lay between the beds.

It’s true that Camile is a smart dog but she is a little too affectionate. The bunk bed was a little too narrow for me and usually part of me was sticking out from under the duvet. Camile took to licking my face, neck and hand which is fine but not when you’re trying to sleep.

I recalled the cardboard box we had when we bought fruit and veg from the market which I put under the van. I ripped this up and made a little partition to stop Camile getting too friendly. An inspired idea, I thought.

In the morning, I woke to Pam staring manically directly at me.

“What’s wrong Pam?”

Without speaking, she carried on staring at me and began to silently role her thick glossy magazine into something like a truncheon.

“Pam, what are you doing? Have I upset you somehow? Pam…Pam, don’t do anything I’d regret.”

Then, she screamed causing me to scream and she hit me with a glancing blow on the forehead.”

“Are you crazy?” I asked.

“Slug” she said “there was a huge black slug on your head.”

“What, where is it now?”

“It went that way pointing to the cab.”

I raced to the sink and scrubbed my forehead, feeling pretty queezy.

“Why didn’t you say something?”

“I couldn’t speak. I was horrified.”

“It must have come in on the cardboard box.”

“Camile looked excited like it was some sort of game.”

We exited the van and collapsed into the deck chairs, traumatised apart from Camile who was dancing around revelling in the excitement.

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Stranded (OS035)