Coincidences happen all the time, but how easy is it to make them convincing in a novel. A senior editor told me it was easier in a play or film because the viewer has less time to think than the reader. Would you find this convincing?
I have owned a small cottage in the South of France for twenty five years, and when we first bought it we wanted to have a roof terrace. Somewhere to eat and sit in the sun. We were advised to speak to a builder in the next village, a Monsieur Martin. He was described as a ‘Homme Serious’ meaning he was well respected. We went to see him at his home to discuss our proposal for the new terrace. He was sturdy, dark haired and spoke French with a strong Provencal accent. His wife was an attractive brunette, who moved swiftly around the large sitting room, fetching coffee and water for us, as we had walked from our cottage to their house and it was very hot. From time to time she translated his heavily accented French into a more standard version.
While we were in England the following winter, M. Martin did the work on our terrace, but when we asked him to do some more work he declined, saying he was building a school in a nearby town and would be occupied there for some time to come. In spite of living very near to us and in a village we visited frequently, we never saw him again.
Now we have sold the cottage and this summer was the last visit we would make with our dog, Rudi. Three days before we left Uzes, we took Rudi to the vets to have his worm treatment and his passport updated, for the return to the UK. The surgery was very busy and the waiting room was full of other people with their dogs. The only cat owner decided to stand outside rather than risk causing mayhem. In addition to us, their was a sophisticated woman in a blue and orange shift dress with her six month old brown labrador, a large Alsation who appeared to have a cough with his two equally large owners. Sitting at the far end of the row of seats from us, was an elderly couple with very old poodle. The dog was emaciated and unable to stand on all four legs.
When the vet came to call them into the consulting room, she said, ‘Monsieur Martin.’
‘I thought I recognised him,’ Alan said to me.
‘Are you sure,’ I said.
At first the man refused to go in, but his wife insisted. She lead the way towards the consulting room, with the poodle gamely following. M. Martin trailed behind her, his steps heavy and slow.
Some ten minutes later, we saw them emerge from the door at the rear of the building. M. Martin was carrying a plain brown box. There was no sign of the poodle.
We were called by the vet for our consultation. We got up and walked towards her office. Alan asked her if that was M. Martin from our village and she said it was. The dog had been so ill, there was no option but to end it’s life.
Is it a true story or not?
Could be – if he was older than you 25 years ago. You don’t say how old he was, just that he was sturdy and a builder and his wife ran round after you which made me think they were quite young. You didn’t mention they had a dog 25 years ago so I knew the dog wasn’t 25 years’ old. I believed it – engaging piece of writing. Fenella
I only think it isn’t true because of one detail. You say the poodle was “unable to stand on all four legs”, but then have the poor dog “gamely following” – which I am suspicious of. 8oS
Still beautifully written though: some strong imagery there without too much detail.
Dogs do quite well on three legs.
That’s true: I hadn’t thought of it like that. Now I believe it.