Last month I did something I should have done 25 years ago: climb the Ste Victoire. To live in Aix and not do that is like living in Athens and never visiting the Acropolis. Never mind the 28,764,319 people who've climbed it before me, it still felt like an achievement.
It isn't difficult. Steep in parts, to be sure, but the path is practically a motorway and in 90 minutes you're there. I was with Bruce, an old Scottish friend from my school days who visits regularly; this was his fifth ascent. My daughter must have been up it a dozen times at least. So you could say I have no excuse. You could even call me a sloth.
I shall retort with the astounding fact that the great man himself, Paul Cézanne, who painted the Ste Victoire 82 times (I'm not kidding), never found it necessary to admire the view from the top. You see? It's like a Christmas tree - better contemplated than climbed.
All the same, it felt good to have done it, so I thought the moment deserved to be captured for posterity. This, believe it or not, was another first for me - a selfie. You might wonder why I look like a discombobulated turtle: it's because I could figure out how to swivel the screen into selfie mode, so I'm fumbling for the button on the other side of the phone.
Bruce, by the way, has many talents, one of which is acting - we were in several school plays together. So when he was over, I asked him to record 35 (Slateford via Holyrood). that's the story by Sam Middleton Beattie in With Our Eyes Open, this year's Book a Break anthology. When I read the story, it cried out to be recorded - you'll see why when you listen to it. And I think you'll agree that Bruce did an excellent job.