Voyage Journey Diary

June 2006

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So the journey moves in to another new phase. Just trying to get inside he head of Poulenc - trying to match my anxieties and thoughts with his, seventy years ago - trying to feel the same kind of emotions - two poles - stretching further apart - with me in the middle trying to hold on to both while they pull further away. I wonder if the religious dilemma was anything like the way the biographers write? Did he feel as in limbo as I do on this journey? Will the final encounter with that little black virgin act as the final piece of the jigsaw for me as it was inspiration for him? Both of our goals are enlightenment of a sort. I hope the little pot of gold helps to unravel the deliberately twisted and tangled thoughts and emotions that this performed journey are creating. As each new episode takes place, so the threads become more tangled - each new flight, every hotel, every train, bus, car journey helps to increase the confusion, a chaos to be tamed. But the figurine in that small chapel.

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Plane delayed. Oh well this increases the pressure. Why is it so that artists need such turmoil? Something I haven't seen for a long time, the girl next to me sketching faces. Flight delayed, an hour late, car picked up and the beginning of a long day. First to Rocamadour - the GPS really helped. Station found - chapel found. The Black Virgin really did seem insignificant amongst hassle of this whole trip. There she was perched high above head height just looking down at me. I'm sure I saw her smile a little. Decided to try the walk from Rocamadour town to the station - its much longer than I thought at least an hour there and an hour back. Filmed the journey there - steadicam okay - perfected the best way to carry it. Tourist info lady wasn't much help - she sold me a map and sneered beautifully. So the day starts in a confused manner. It's strange how difficult it is to gather my thoughts - I guess its being on my own. When removed from others my head seems to descend in to turmoil - ordinary decisions become very difficult. I suppose being tired doesn't help but even so. What route shall I take, which order do I put things? You would have thought that the mind would be concentrated when the normal distractions of life are removed, but it seems the opposite has happened, my mind feels cluttered with being in a strange place. Trying to decide which direction to take having left the camera recording a simulated journey on the GPS. Having coffee and croissant to try and sort things out. I will organise two taxis from the various stations from here, must find a phone box. Will also talk to the hotel people about filming through the door. Good news, the Hotel Teyssier appears to have opened up today after the owners have been on holiday - good luck after bad. Continuing bad news - it's raining - the worst thing that could happen. I don't have a waterproof cover for the camera, I don't have an umbrella. I very almost despair. This journey is fated. I only hope that the black virgin can bring me some luck. I guess I sit it out and hope that the rain stops before attempting to call cabs etc. If it's arsing it down it will be pointless filming at all. I'll just sit here and listen to the GPS in the boot doing the virtual journey that I would like to do in real life. I wonder what Francis would have made of all this - can you have a virtual pilgrimage? So the change of plan to record the journey by car and stop off at the stations en route. All the way to Rocamadour. Maybe the journey from his point of view is not necessary. Sitting now, I feel completely despondent. I have filmed the climbing of the steps up to the sanctuary and the chapel where she sits and I feel drained. Despite her little miracle she performed with the weather, I feel like she has sucked all of the life out of me. Suddenly I feel exhausted. This is strange because ideas wise there are some things coming together but instead of the elation, I feel depressed. I will go and have a word with her shortly. She is in her case, lit to perfection. The light seems to be trapped in that case. It's as if she's not prepared to give out any light. The glass of the case keeping her light in. I'm asking her to speak to me. I move nearer so I can get a better look at her face. I'm asking if she parted the skies for me. I'm asking her to give me a sign. I'm standing in front of her closed eyes. Daring them to open. Perhaps she needs more candles lit for her. At two euros, surely a bargain. I'm just wondering how this thing could have affected him so deeply. I guess without the crowds there could be a completely different feeling in here.

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Home via Uzerche, gained permission to film inside tomorrow. All systems go for the morning. The journey will start. Apprehension is a strange thing, the brain seems focused and confused at the same time.

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I am sitting in my hotel room thinking about how he might have been feeling that morning. I wonder if he had any idea what was to happen in just a few hours time. He must have had some idea that he was beginning to lean more towards his religious side - it can't have come like a bolt from the blue, can it? It's strange I am waiting for my journey just as he was waiting for his, both with an idea of what is to come, that is the practicalities of any journey, train times, taxis etc. But neither of us quite know what is to happen en route and also when we get there. I guess it's the same for any journey. You generally have a reason to be going on it but; a-the reason may change when you get there and b-an awful lot of things can happen on the way. So the journey is complete. I have a beer to celebrate - there she was just the same as yesterday, watching over. I swear she winked at me today - as if to say - I know what you're going through, its all worth it you know. I was struck by a woman praying as my journey culminated. She sobbed and sniffed and prayed. I hope my filming doesn't disturb her too much, although I know SHE would forgive me. I guess I am fulfilled in some way - I would have been more so if the train from Brive to Rocamadour hadn't been replaced by a bus! Not exactly the journey I had planned but I guess there were train problems even in his day. Perhaps a taxi instead of a replacement bus would have been his salvation. Every journey has its problems and this is no exception. With most of my filming complete I intend to drink heartily tonight to the health of Poulenc, the life of the BV and a small toast to me for coming through this. I wonder if he went straight home. I wonder if he had a beer? I wonder if he felt immediately fulfilled or that came later. I wonder if he wondered much at all - till later.

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It's strange I feel like I could sit here for ever. If only that feeling of momentary peace could last forever. Tomorrow its home time and the rest of life's pressures flood in as the tide of this trip subsides. This peace is spoiled by the thoughts of tomorrow. Even with all of the treasures that await me. Even with the draw of the ones I love. One journey after another after another after another, only the train to Uzerche, car to Chamboulive and then the car to Toulouse and then Plane to Bristol and then taxi home to go and then I'll be home. I won't forget the man who gave me a bottle of water free of charge on my 5k walk to Rocamadour station - the BV again? The same BV that made the Rocamadour - Brive train late so I missed my connection. Sitting on an ancient train to Uzerche.

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So when does any journey end? Is it a case of time being up? Or is it when whatever was intended is established? This trip has so many facets. Its hard to know when it is complete. It feels done right now but I now have the small matter of going home. Is a journey ever complete or does memory elongate it as residue is left behind. Events and people that keep that journey alive as every moment is constantly re-constituted through time and discussion. As each moment is remembered and recounted, so the detail slightly shifts - the journey continues. It also continues in the minds of who has been told. Whether they choose to push that journey further, it's up to them but just as any information taken in results in a miniscule change in one's psyche. So the journey continues. Toulouse airport is a desolate place. Its almost deserted.