The Bear and the Basque

In the Basque Country, Chloe realises that she does not miss Bletchley at all.

‘’I sat on a bench just below the church. Eyes closed, I ignored the sounds of crickets and cowbells tinkling around the valley and tested my body for signs of home-sickness. I conjured up a patter of rain, the roar of the A5, the screams of police sirens and the voices of my neighbours arguing. I found none. I didn’t miss England one bit. 

How I envied Pop for being born here. The bulk of the Pyrenees and sloping fields, so green and velvety in the afternoon sun, gave him a dimension I lacked.

While my mother took her Australian fun and sun with her wherever she went, I felt incomplete somehow, and wished I’d been born somewhere. It would give me kudos, provide me with that ‘Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée’ label of consistent quality without which a wine is never worth much.

That label was so important that the nearby town of Espelette was fighting to have it slapped on its pimentos. Did it matter to anyone where exactly the pimentos were grown? Yes, it mattered to them. 

I too wanted to know that I had been finely crafted, not churned out on the assembly line of some large maternity unit. I don’t know why I felt that way. Perhaps it was simply that I had not yet found my tribe. 

Such were the thoughts flitting around my mind as I gazed down at the Bear Inn. Ageless, solid, the building oozed steadfastness and generosity. On the way to nowhere, its only purpose was to make people happy.’’

The Bear and the Basque is out now


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