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“My wife needs no

“My wife needs no portrait – it’s engraved here, in my heart.” Bill gestured dramatically whilst hugging me to him. We wandered from one to another, as we had plenty of time to stand and absorb what was going on. At the end of the boulevard was a convenient restaurant overlooking the harbour. We sat sipping our wine and tackling a mound of brown shrimps, apparently a local delicacy. We didn’t need to talk, just the occasional ‘delicious’… ‘lovely’… We were assimilating our experiences, listening to the music of the nearby French conversations. Eventually we left and wandered to the quayside, away from the noise and bustle, where we stood arms round each other. The haunting melodies of the Peruvian band we’d seen earlier in the evening floated across. Ahead of us was still water with white masts and cordage reflected in triangles. Some of the moored yachts showed signs of 10

habitation. On one, washing hung from a line strung between masts, on another a family of cats played hide and seek on deck, and further on, a couple lounged in canvas chairs, drinks in hand. Beyond were the large luxury schooners, white and gleaming, chrome wheels catching the light of the rising moon. The plop of a fish disturbed the perfect reflections and the white lines wriggled like a child’s skipping rope. A yacht with a light at the masthead glided in silently between the two towers at the entrance. At that moment we fell in love with La Rochelle. But would I get a job here? The following morning, I set off for the school which overlooked an old dock pool, quiet after the animation of the harbour area. I went in to try to arrange an interview. I felt fairly confident, after all I had years of general teaching experience, although admittedly I was a novice in language teaching, but I had good marks from my course, an English as a foreign language teaching course I had taken the previous year, and I had already been offered a language school job in Normandy. This was on hold while we considered whether I should accept it. Too far north, was what we had thought. Half an hour later I emerged, feeling a little dazed. Bill greeted me with, “So when’s the interview?” “No interview… I’ve been offered a job. Just like that.” He grinned. “What? Just like that? Good for you. Now let’s go to one of those bars and enjoy the sun while you can fill me in with the details.” A row of pavement bars and restaurants bordered the harbour, where boats edged in through the towers bustling busily to their moorings. We chose a café and settled to 11