Tout en marchant
Il n’y a pas de chemin ; le chemin se fait en marchant – Life is what you make it.
This is a blog about the Pyrenees, walking, living in the south of France, and becoming français.
I was brought up on the outskirts of industrial Middlesbrough, in the gritty English North, the son of a metallurgist who worked for Imperial Chemical Industries all his life. I studied engineering at university for two years. My destiny was to replicate my father: a hair-cut, a suit, a wife, and 2.4 children.
So how did I arrive here? Something to do with the spirit of 1968 ; I didn’t have to be like my father. Change was not only possible, it was essential.
Also, I had discovered the world of archaeology. Diggers were indeed dropouts. But they were also dedicated, hard-working, tough individualists: dropouts with a mission. It didn’t matter that they were badly paid, I wanted to be one.
A degree in archaeology followed and for several years I moved from one dig to another: Wales, Scotland, Germany. And then to Warwickshire to dig up Romans.
By 1982, however, archaeology had started to grow-up, cut its hair, and buy a suit. My girlfriend cut my hair, but the suit was my choice. Slowly I was sucked into the routine of a 9-5 job. Slowly I was becoming a replica. The mould that I thought I had broken was being reconstructed from the pile of sherds. It was gripping me ever more tightly, crushing the life out of me.
So I started designing websites and moved, in 1997, with my wife (the same woman who had cut my hair) to a small French village. We now live a few minutes from the Mediterranean, a trowel’s throw from Roman town of Narbonne, near to the medieval castle of Carcassonne – for archaeology still has an influence.
Let’s be clear about it: I am not an expatriate, I’m an immigrant.