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Chapter 1 Job Hunting in

Chapter 1 Job Hunting in La Rochelle Twin towers with flags fluttering stood proud at the entrance to the harbour at La Rochelle. A tide of tourists was wandering along looking at boats bobbing at their moorings, the stalls, or enjoying the early evening sun at 8

one of the many cafés along the surrounding boulevard. We were tempted to join them, but shouldn’t we be disciplining ourselves to job-hunt? I needed to find work. It was now the first week of June and we had till the end of the month before schools closed for the summer holidays. It was also two weeks before I had to accept or decline an offer I’d been made at a school in Normandy. ‘Our security’, we called it, but ideally we both wanted somewhere further south. La Rochelle was the first language school on my ‘list of possibles’. “Right,” Bill said, “It’s too late to go to the school now, so -” “We can join the tourist throng!” An evening of music and laughter. And so much to see. Fairy lights decorated the avenue of trees alongside the harbour. Restaurants, with tables spread right across the boulevard, were busy, with waiters weaving their way carrying huge dishes of fruits de mer crowned with an acrobatic langoustine, pinchers bending backwards to pierce its abdomen. A variety of buskers were performing under the trees, jugglers, a Peruvian pipe band, performing dogs jumping through hoops, dancers and artists. Crowds had collected round these: one was a straight artist, the other a cartoon artist eliciting knowing smiles and comments at the quickly sketched bulbous nose or protruding ears. We watched fascinated. “Your wife, Monsieur … I can see her …” the cartoon artist waved his charcoal theatrically at Bill. “Perhaps he wants a beautiful portrait for a beautiful lady,” cut in the other. I blushed. 9