I was at my French conversation class earlier in the week, and someone had brought a few things to show us. She’s an elderly lady, recently bereaved and she seemed keen to talk and when we were each asked if we had any ‘petites histoires’, she told us about an incident which had happened to her when she had been travelling several years ago.
She was a little muddled, deviating off into side stories, and my French isn’t always reliable, so I rather lost the beginning of what she had gone on to tell us. She had been talking about travels in Sicily, and maybe the story still was in Sicily, or maybe she was somewhere else, but she was on a train, so I thought, going from one small town to another, travelling alone.
In her hands, as she told her petite histoire, she had a little home-made booklet about three inches by five; it had a green cardboard cover which had gone slightly furry with use, and the pages inside were a thick, quite soft, white paper. The book, which must have been maybe seventy pages, was fastened in one corner with a piece of raffia passed through a pinched hole.
On the front was printed:
Laboratoire de création
Atelier des Anges
regarde le monde guerrier
avec son cœur de poète
temps de réflexion
… and inside In French, obviously, were little comments, musings and aphorisms, with the occasion geometric design or little cartoons which reminded me of Picasso.
The elderly lady told us the book had been given to her by a young man, on the train… now I think I may have been mistaken about that, maybe it was in a museum, but however she received it, it just seemed such a curious incident.
Doesn’t this just cry out to be part of a story? Someone is on a train in a foreign country, and somehow during a conversation with a stranger he or she is given a mysterious, hand-printed book… Who is the stranger, why does he give the book? What does it mean? What happens next? Hmmm, I must ponder on this!!