The suburb of Monaco in which I live, Beausoleil, is home to many nationalities and we all get on very well. Which is a good thing. If I had more time I’d take up Portuguese or Tagalog, the language of the Philippines. I must ask my neighbours what bonjour is. Whatever it is it has to be shouted.
Beausoleil, or Monte-Carlo Supérieure as it should be, is also home to a plethora of medical clinics. Many wealthy Monaco residents cross the border to attend them. For me, they are very close to hand.
I took my left one – hand – to be inspected by a skin doctor not more than 100 metres from my humble home.
She kept me waiting for half an hour. She was, and still is as far as I know as I write, a very strong-looking Mediterranean woman with a deep, booming heavily-accented voice. She could have been a Bond villain.
I sat down, uninvited.
She asked me questions. I was happy to answer, “Yes,” I said, “I did have a bad case of sunburn on my back in 1956.”
Any fatal cases of skin cancer in my family? No, but my father once had something removed from behind his RAF moustache. I didn’t mention the RAF in case her predecessors had been on the wrong side.
“Is your father still alive?”
I had to think about that for a while as no-one has asked me that in three decades.
“No,” I said, after a pause.
She made me lie down, then brushed me, or rather pushed me with her strong Mediterranean thighs. My mind began to wander.
“Are you afraid?” she asked.
She explained I would need laser treatment.
“I’m not afraid of that, but you terrify me,” I wanted to say. But dared not.