Part 1 

Episode 6

It was on the second or third night in France that James first became morose. They had driven to Dover, ferried to Boulogne. Ruth cannot remember how or where they came to be on that campsite but after putting up the tent, it started to rain heavily.

 Although she cannot recall the finer detail, she remembers James lying in his doss bag angry. He was speaking to her, half muttering, half raising his voice that he “wished he had bloody never come, “

“Why had she made him come?”

“It was going to be bloody awful and it was all her fault. “

 It was not a terrible thing and she'd heard talk like it before, 

“You can always go home”? She said calmly.

 People commonly forget they have a choice and blame each other in this way and Ruth took herself out of the tent as he continued to berate her. She sat under the eaves until he went to sleep; she watched the rainfall on the grass and light up the buttercups. It was very pretty she thought and she was sad he was cross. A little rain shouldn’t stop their fun; she got back in and went to sleep shortly after.

As they continued on their journey, they visited Fontainebleau. They stopped in as may patisseries as was fitting. Ruth developed a stinking cold and couldn’t taste anything! But did not let it stop her. 

She and James were still affectionate and talked readily about all sorts of things but by the time they had gone round Paris and reached Lyons, Ruth noticed James had become increasing angry with her mum.

Ruth had had issue with her mum and knew her ways, she had told James about this. Her mum could get anxious and flustered and was not always happy but that was her way and there was no way of stopping her being late or getting lost.  

Where once they had laughed in each other’s company Ruth found James and her mum starting to bicker late at night while drunk? 

In the mornings James would demand Betty sort her mum out and get her “fucking moving”. 

Her mum was not being outrageous or indeed very taxing and was actually doing a great deal, driving and all but James found her more and more irritating and wanted Betty to do something about it.

 Betty had fought with her mum, horrible, tearful fights and knew her ways could be difficult but she couldn’t do anything about it. This didn't seem to register with James. His tone of voice was crisp and sharp. 

“What is she doing now”!

“Why don’t you talk to her yourself”? Betty inquired,

“She’s your fucking mum “came his reply.   

 James also got quite obsessed with playing cribbage on the journeys in between towns and got cross with Ruth when she didn’t want to play, making the journey tense when it needn’t have been.

Ruth can remember quite a lot about the marvelous countryside, the greenery that changed as they went south into Mediterranean rock outcrops. It went by so very fast and they were in Arles within a week. They were due in Pisa a week later, they saw Van Gogh stuff and a bullring, and it was so warm and quite ridiculously lovely. 

Ruth’s cold had got better but she suddenly felt really sick in the stomach, at about 4 in the afternoon and had to go back to the van.  Next day they visited the marshlands of The Carmargue. There were Flamingo’s and Mosquito’s and Snakes.

James was absolutely petrified of snakes.

 Ruth cannot be sure but she thinks it was at St Marie de la Mer that a little thing quite quickly went askew. James had battened down the tent when he knew that there were snakes near by. It was swelteringly hot in the tent but he would not allow the flaps open and it was deeply uncomfortable. 

It might have been that night it could have been the next but at some time one night around then, when it was dark and cooler, something happened. 

Ruth has no clear memory at all but she has snatches and glimpses of a brooding atmosphere, of James talking. 

He looked not at Ruth but at the tent wall behind her, casually and evenly, he spoke to the air. 

She is equally unclear as to what he said but the general outcome was that she became clear that James bitterly hated her mother, not dislike but true hatred. There was no anger, just flat and calm, deep and abiding hate. 

Likewise she became aware then that James also believed Ruth was dirty. Ruth understood after this that James was under the impression that Ruth had slept carelessly with many men and was probably riddled with AIDS.

 She doesn’t know what she did then, hasn’t got a Scooby and did not recollect this incident at all until sometime last year, she does however know the look he had in his eyes, she saw it again many times after and Ruth is now certain it frightened her.

 She also knows that the next morning in the showers with her mum, she started crying, sobbing. She babbled to her mum that she must have an AIDS test. She implored that her mum should not ever mention the men she had slept with before James. It was all awful, awful. 

Ruth knew she had been careful actually, in the clear light of day and she knew she had only slept with two other men but she did not ask what her mother had told James, if anything!  Nor did she tell her mum he had spoken to her.

 Her mum hugged Ruth and as was often Mog's way she said that whatever was making Ruth upset it must be her fault because she was a bad mother.  Ruth was stunned into silence. Why was it her fault? 

Her mum wouldn’t have told James  that Ruth had slept with lots of men and it was her fault would she? Why would she? She hadn't ; and Ruth knew it. Didn't she?

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