Two years ago, 33 months ago, 966 days ago, on a January night in Strasbourg when hoar frost formed on your breath and the bells of the Dom could hardly make it through the freezing fog, my grande passion, still unrequitable, showed me her new car. 'A little silver Clio,' she said apologetically, although she wanted me to be impressed. I was. I couldn't afford a car. Then came an unknown pang; and ever since, when I saw that Renault trademark on the hunched city-scuttlers. Now I know why.
Papa and Nicole. Of course. Of course. This flimsiest of admass francobilia, washing around sedimentarily at the bottom of the early 90s media troposphere, merely updated onions-beret-bike-and-burglar's-jersey. No longer cheroot-chewing Jacques - no, sub that for luscious leggy libertine-in-waiting with rich olivier dad (with that special Pagnol tan - is that in the Dulux catalogue?).
In 11 years of longing I've never realised how that must have influenced me as I wandered stupefied by the prosperity, the charge, the symmetry, the poise, the fragility, the haughtiness, the command, of so many stupendously beautiful women under 21 as I saw within a few hours when I first arrived at the Universite Francois Rabelais in Tours. It was unfeasible, it would not compute, this wasn't fair; this was magic realism at its most macabrely magical.
One in particular, now driving into the future as Nicole drove through those ads.