Random Play by Graham Reid

Three Feet High And Rising

A glancing encounter with CNN in a Paris hotel room brought back memories: the images showed smalltown Cameron in southwest Louisiana washed away by Hurricane Rita. It seemed tragic and . . .

Well, let me tell you my memory of Cameron, a place we stayed in for one very long night last year while driving down to the Gulf Coast before heading up to Breaux Bridge then on to New Orleans.

Cameron is in shrimp and petroleum country -- and stinks of both. It is is not a pretty smell. But then again, Cameron was not a pretty town.

After checking in at a local motel, during which time fat and irritating maybugs invaded the car and then the room when we opened the doors, I decided to check out a local bar in the hope of chatting with some friendly hometown folk.

The Sports Bar had three people in it: a nuggety guy with a long braid and tatts, a fat and foul-mouthed middle-aged woman, and a guy I took to be her husband.

I ordered a beer from the barmaid who plonked it down and walked away. This was surprising because everywhere else I had been -- from LA across Texas -- my accent usually drew comment.

But not in Cameron.

So I supped my beer and listened while the the tough guy -- who turned out to be a woman -- talked about who had just been killed on the highway, lost an arm in a rigging accident, and the best way to cook shrimp.

The bar was dark and uninviting, much like the company, but I ordered another beer just to see what might eventuate.

When I did the fat guy spun around on his stool and said, Hey, where you from?

I told him, and he said, Huh, I thought you wuz from Iceland.

Then he turned his back on me again.

I decided this was not an especially interesting bar or company so went across the road to another.

Same thing. The ancient bar woman slammed down my beer like I had been an imposition on her valuable time and went back to her conversation with three equally ancient cronies, one of whom had taken his teeth out and put them on the bar while he sipped his soup.

And their conversation? They were arguing about the best way to cook shrimp.

Now I dunno about you, but I would have thought that if you lived in a shrimp town you might have figured that out some time ago.

So I left the bars of Cameron, fought my way through the stink and the bugs back to the motel across from the scrapyard of metal and shrimp boats and said to Megan that we might make an early start in the morning.

Cameron is now underwater and I have ambivalent feelings about that.

However I do worry about nearby Breaux Bridge on the bayou which might also be flooded. We had a wonderful time there -- and I have been in touch with a military medic from there who was posted to Iraq and at the end of his tour a month ago came home, only to go straight on duty again in drowned New Orleans.

I put the Herald in touch with him, I hope they have found him and got his remarkable story.

And here is a shameless plug. In my book Postcards From Elsewhere I write about Breaux Bridge. It might make interesting reading in the light of recent events.

Righto, that is it. We are staying in a luxurious vineyard outside Bordeaux and I have had a whole lobster for lunch, am off to the winebar and maybe a swim in the pool before dinner and cigars.

Home and elections seem a long way away. Big ups to the guy who wrote after the last posting and wondered why we did not just have a penalty shoot-out.

Au revoir.