postcard from languedoc

Before we embarked on our journey, we kept asking: "What happens if the children get ill?" Luckily, our first-aid book is among Tallulah's bedtime reading. We pore over methods of preserving amputated digits and rescuing an electrocuted woman by standing on a telephone directory and prodding her with a broom. I like the way the victim looks so absurdly content and clean. Of course, the answer to the question is obvious. We would call a doctor. But what if you are parked in the middle of nowhere? Oh, hypothetical - phooey.

It happens in the mountains of Languedoc. For once, we're not interested in the revival of endangered European languages. In fact, we're thankful the French have marginalised their regional tongues. I would be hard- pressed to explain Tallulah's symptoms in Occitan. Tallulah has a chesty cough, not helped by an incessant downpour. We are parked down a mile- long track, across a flooded ford. The track belongs to our friend, horse- trekker Roland Bec, an irresistible Frenchman who serenades Tallulah on his guitar. She falls for him, but not with her usual wild joy.

That night, Tallulah's temperature rockets to 104F. She thrashes about in her bunk, muttering "Carry me, carry me" increasingly deliriously. Most worrying of all, she has a headache. Richard pulls on his waterproofs and sloshes across a field to Roland's house where he is forced to interrupt a dinner party to ask Roland to call his doctor. I trust French doctors, because the French are so obsessed by their bodies - inside and out. No other European high street has so many salons de beaute and laboratoires de analyses medicales. Where our bodily secretions are hidden away in the back of hospitals, the French study theirs between the post office and boulangerie.

Roland's doctor arrives with impressive speed. He twists Tallulah's head from side to side. Nobody mentions the M word, but this is what he is thinking. However, he diagnoses bronchitis not meningitis. I am overwhelmed. I cradle Tallulah; lights are low; rain drums on the roof. I want to keep the doctor here, this competent visitor from the real world.

Roland offers help. I have seen Roland jabbing a horse with antihistamine - he knows his stuff. But this time he's offering to drive Richard five miles to the nearest chemist. In the event, his son has taken the car, so a guest is persuaded to drive them there. The doctor prescribes seven drugs. He insists on bottled sea-water to spray up Tallulah's nose and six sessions of "clapping". We look blank. It seems we must find a kinaestherapist (whatever that is) to bring up her catarrh by rhythmically patting her chest. "Suppo?" he asks, as he signs off. "Pardon?" "Suppositoires?" "Non." Here I draw the line. "Pas pour les anglais."

Tallulah, I am happy to report, has recovered.

Helena Drysdale

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
News
London's New Year's Eve fireworks event is going to be ticketed this year for the first time at £10 a head
news

Revellers will have to pay to see New Year's Eve fireworks in London

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Travel
travel

...and the perfect time to visit them

News
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable
science

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Life and Style
tech

Try putting that one on your Christmas list
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Experienced Cover Supervisors Needed

    £55 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education have cover s...

    **** Calling All NQT's ****

    £90 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Are you a Newly Qualified Teac...

    Cover Supervising Roles Longridge

    £50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Preston: A mainstream secondary school i...

    Cover Supervisor Preston

    £50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Cover Supervisor Jobs in Presto...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week