In June 2016, my girlfriend Jane met her old friend Jenny Roberts. She and her husband Paul, an author and noted pianist, spend the whole of August every year in an old French farmhouse running courses and workshops for talented amateur piano players, and rely upon family and friends as voluntary staff. “How are things?” Jane asked Jenny. “Not so good. We have lost one of our cooks.” Impulsively Jane offered to help. “But my boyfriend Nick will have to come as well.” Jenny jumped at the chance: “Would he mind washing dishes?” Without so much as a text of consultation, Jane replied that of course I’d be a happy plongeur.
And it turned out that I loved the job, and am an excellent dishwasher. For the first time in two years since my brain injury, I had a routine and purpose. Every morning at the farmhouse in Albignac, near Albi in SW France, I would wash up breakfast and then help the cooks keeping their tools and bowls and dishes clean ready for lunch, and later for supper. It was a regime I came to desire back in Blighty.