Coincidence in Ahun
I'd like to consider the nature of coincidence. The 'Oxford English Dictionary' describes it as 'remarkable concurrence of events without apparent causal connection'. The key word here is 'apparent' and this is what I would like to explore in light of recent events in my life.
It has been a strange mix of circumstances which has led me to Aubusson; at times I feel I have been going round in circles, finding myself revisiting or, apparently, 'bumping into' people and places again and again. Also, new people, not random people, have become part of the pattern, part of the web of my life. I need to explore this but, as memory is weak, I shall need to start from the most recent and work backwards to remember, to capture, to record some 'remarkable' moments.
Of course, what is remarkable to me may not be viewed as such by others. My life has been a long, difficult struggle but not extraordinary or exciting compared with the lives of many others: it is the life of one woman and her attempts to make sense of, to make her way in this world.
And here I am, after 65 years, in Aubusson!
I have met my immediate neighbours; lovely, polite French people who always greet with kisses and 'Bonjour' yet keep themselves to themselves. They can be seen from my first floor window chatting exuberantly in the Rue but seldom gathering or huddling inside as is the British custom. I don't walk out as often as I should; ambling along alone always seems a lonely experience to me and I prefer to have a goal, a purpose, to a walk, which I seldom have these days.
A week ago, on a Thursday, my daughter, Philippa, who now also lives here in our quite grand 18th century town house, asked if we could visit 'L'Art du Troc' at Ahun. It's a small shop on the left as one drives into Ahun, with the magnificent Mediaeval church in view on the right. It's run by a charming French lady who has excellent taste in second-hand ladies' clothing: from the bohemian to designer labels, all very reasonably priced.
As we were leaving the house to make the 30 minute trip to Ahun I mentioned our intention to Hannah ( a new lodger/friend.....a story for later!) and her friend/shiatsu master, Denis. Denis insisted I give his best wishes ( in French) to 'Rachel', the proprietor and friend of his. This I promised to do.
The weather was miserable for late June: cold and drizzly with Philippa limping along with an injured left foot, sustained after jumping down a flight of stairs. We were pleased and surprised to see that the shop has incorporated a tiny tea room; just two tables but very welcome for a mum who has to wait patiently for a daughter rooting through racks of clothes.
I introduced myself to 'Rachel' but it transpired that it was not she: Rachel was elsewhere and it was Annie's first day looking after the shop. I sat at one of the tables and asked if I could have ‘une tasse de the’: Earl Grey was not on offer so I plumped for ‘une the vanille’. Apart rom Philippa the shop was empty of clients so Annie sat down to join me. My conversational French isn’t brilliant as I get little practice but it transpired that Annie too lives in Aubusson. She asked which Rue and when I told her she looked at me in amazement as she too lives in the same street but further up ‘en face des pompiers’! I know it well. What a concidence!
Another lady came to join us: all about the same age with ‘blonde’ hair except that ‘Eveline’ also has a walking stick. We got chatting. Where did Eveline live? Aubusson. Which street? The very same again, also in an apartment further up near les pompiers!
Now, of all the towns and villages in the area, and all the streets in all these places, what are the chances of three ladies all sitting down for a drink in this tiny shop all living in the same street and town? It was indeed remarkable but I do wonder if there is a ‘causal connection’ and, if there is, what is the meaning, the purpose, the value of it. As yet, I have no answers.