Le petit train finally hits the buffers
[You'll find the beginning of this story here, with more here.]
There’s the petit train de Nice – the good one – with driver Christophe walking beside the engine on the lhs. The photo’s courtesy of the Cote d’Azur’s newspaper, Nice-Matin. Feast your eyes, recall my wholly-inadequate praise and description of the trip’s delights and resign yourself to missing out on sharing the experience. Because you won’t see these trains on the Prom’, circulating Vieux Nice or winding their way up and down the narrow lanes to the Citadel again. Not these ones. The tribunal administratif has ruled in favour of the new company, you see. Although the case grinds on, as such things do, the heart’s been ripped out of it by due legal process. The cause is fuelled now by nothing but vain hopefulness and desperation, and has all the hang-dog pathos of a lost cause.
Shell-shocked, the equipe are grinding to a halt with some refusing to acknowledge defeat while nonetheless aware that they’re beaten. Shock, pain and loss hit all of us very hard; but we all react in different ways. One might ask ‘why?’ Bad management? Greedy politicians? Both? (British readers will be well-acquainted with that scenario by now, so I won’t bore you with repetition of analysis of probable cause(s).)
But you’ll want to know about Chiqui and Didier, of course.
The answer is that they’re a little sad – 20 years, that’s not … nothing. Besides which the little business is ceasing just as Didier’s 20th anniversary with the company comes around, coinciding with the 20th birthday of his and Chiqui’s son, Jim. These circumstances, rather than spooking our friends, have inspired them. As Chiqui says, “we have health, love, family – things could be a lot worse.” She concludes “and with no ties, no debts and a few savings – we’ve no reason to feel sorry for ourselves.” And the amount, variety and kind of support they’ve received from us locals guarantees that the happy memories they take away with them are plentiful.
So their plans? Off to another part of France – one they have chosen themselves – to seek first accommodation and then work (redundancy money will help them clear the initial removal hurdles). They feel it is time. They are looking forward to their new beginnings. Like the lesson contained within The I Ching pictogram – the one that means both turmoil and opportunity – Chiqui and Didier are seizing this opportunity to make a new life, go elsewhere, do different things. A great change, then. But since it’s Chiqui and Didier’s change, you can be sure it will be done with vigour, humour, humanity and a passion for life that will light up their path ahead like a Klieg lamp.
Good luck to them! Or as the French say instead on such occasions, merde!
I will miss them. More than that, the Prom’ and all who use it will be poorer, far poorer, for the loss of such born life-enhancers. Some things just can’t be quantified in mere monetary terms.
Godspeed, Chiqui and Didier.
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