I’m looking at a competition where the first prize is a set of online writing workshops worth over £200. There is no entry fee and requires only a piece of 1000 words.
The problem is that it has to be about France in some way. Unfortunately for me, the only experience I’ve personally had of France was driving through it on a coach in the early eighties. My family couldn’t afford to fly to Spain, so we endured a twenty four hour road-trip from North West England down through France and into sunny Spain. France was about ten hours into that journey, following an hour-long bout of sea-sickness that is also known as the cross-channel Ferry.
Part of me wants to write about the dimly lit, almost deserted motorway cafes that seemed to just appear out of the cold night air. Ignorant men with pencil-line moustaches and strong-smelling cigarettes also frequent my thoughts when I think back.
However, the strongest thought from that trip was my lovely mum not having enough French money to buy both a drink for herself or a game on an arcade machine for her bored son and choosing to sacrifice her thirst for my two minutes of entertainment.
I’m not sure I could paint France in the way that the competition wants, but at least it’s made me think of my mum again and that’s worth 1000 words of anyone’s time.