I accepted the offer of a place in Paris to undertake a six-month long refresher course in French. Although downhearted at the prospect of a long time apart, TPR kindly accompanied me to France to help me settle in.
The temporary hall of residence was an overcrowded tower block slum, brimming with squatters, drug addicts, prostitutes, illegal immigrants, and other unfortunates who had set up camp in the cold concrete corridors. There was even a group of Chinese men who were warming themselves by a raging camp fire built into a lift shaft. I was grateful that TPR was there to protect me.
If these were conditions in which I was expected to live, I was going off the idea of learning French again. I discussed this with TPR naked in the back seat of a car not far from the airport. Here we saw Air Force One overhead, accompanied an anti-terrorist escort. We continued the discussion along a cliff edge in the pouring rain.
Then it dawned on me that the reason reason for not taking up my place should be that I had promised TPR that I would never leave him again. However, I would use the excuse of my PhD students when I confessed to SL that I would not, after all, be her fellow student in France.