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Swanage ou le Bobby magnifique

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Jp Swanage 53

NOUVEAU ! Traduction anglaise ci-dessous.  

J’avais seize ans lorsqu’en juin 1953, mes parents acceptèrent de me confier à une famille anglaise, Mr and Mrs Hibbs, de Swanage, coquette station balnéaire du Dorset. En échange, leur fils, Neville, vint plusieurs fois à Mirebeau où l’on me parle encore de lui. La mode des séjours linguistiques au pair était née et avec elle ma première sensation de liberté. Alors que mon séjour allait se terminer, une grève générale paralyse la France et interdit toute possibilité de retour. Contraint, mais ravi, de rester à Swanage, je fais divers petits boulots : Aspirateur-boy dans les quarante chambres de l’Hôtel Grovenor, plongeur, du matin au soir, dans un restaurant dont je ne vis que l’évier, photographe plagiste sur le bateau du capitaine Redge…

 

Les jeunes Français qui vécurent cette époque outre Manche attesteront des succès que nous rencontrions alors auprès des petites Anglaises. Je me souviens des ruses que j’inventais chaque jour pour élire ma préférée  sans vexer les autres, l’emmener voir Limelight au cinéma, écouter Blue Tango au Jukebox de la jetée, danser un rock n’ roll, se perdre dans les falaises…

« Johnny, ton cœur est un artichaut me disait en riant Mrs Hibbs. Tu donnes des feuilles à toutes les filles mais j’espère que ton cœur est pour moi ». Je garde naturellement le souvenir de ces conquêtes estivales, Rosaline, Lilian, Dorothy, Mary, Joyce et Joy, les jumelles complices qui ne révélèrent leur jumelage que le jour de leur départ, Pamela, Michèle, Inga, Virgie…

J’ai pourtant oublié un prénom. M’en souviendrai-je que, par galanterie, je le remplacerais de toute façon. Appelons-la Swany.

Elle avait bien cinq ou six ans de plus que moi. Brune piquante, jolie, drôle, pleine d’humour, sure d’elle. « Je t’attendrai à 22 heures. Je vais te montrer le chemin ». Je la suis alors dans un dédale de rues jusqu’à une villa bleue. Je ne fermerai pas la porte, me dit-elle. Ma chambre est au premier étage, à droite. Ne fais pas de bruit à cause des voisins. Mon mari rentre à quatre heures du matin. Il est policier. Tu seras parti depuis longtemps… J’avais parfois du mal à comprendre clairement ce que l’on me disait. Il m’arrivait –je l’avoue- de faire semblant. En l’occurrence, je retins que le policier qui venait d’être évoqué dans cette histoire, était un voisin et que je devais éviter à tout prix de le croiser dans la maison.

Je me mets sur mon trente-et-un, me parfume et noue soigneusement le foulard-cravate de soie que je portais alors. Craignant de me perdre, j’effectue à l’avance une première reconnaissance des lieux. Peu avant la maison de Swany, je croise un grand type en uniforme de policeman, qui en sortait. Ce « Bobby » est le voisin, pensai-je. Je revins à l’heure du rendez-vous.

La suite se déroula comme vous l’imaginez. D’apprenti, je franchis ce jour-là plusieurs degrés d’aptitude. Je me réjouis aussi à l’idée de conter mes exploits à Neville … Me suis-je endormi ? C’est probable car je me souviens de Swany affolée, me réveillant brutalement, et parlant très vite, comme si une bombe allait tomber sur la maison : « Get away ! Quickly, Go ! Oh my God ! » Je ramasse mes affaires et sors en catastrophe, continuant de m’habiller dans la rue. Arrivé devant la maison de madame Hibbs, je m’aperçois que j’ai oublié le foulard de soie que j’avais soigneusement posé sur le pied du lit. Sans hésiter, j’y retourne. J’ouvre la porte de la chambre sans frapper pour ne pas faire de bruit. Ma cravate est bien là. Assis sur le lit, à côté de Swany, un grand type entrain d’enlever son uniforme me dévisage sans un mot. J’avance d’un pas, saisis ma cravate et sors, refermant la porte sans me retourner… Je possède encore ce trophée de soie vert à petits pois blanc.

Je passe les jours suivants terrorisé à l’idée de croiser ce policier. Gentleman en toutes circonstances comme seul peut l’être un Anglais, il avait montré une parfaite maîtrise, mais s’il devenait moins fairplay… Je suis souvent revenu à Swanage, mais n’ai jamais revu Swany ni ce Cocu magnifique.

Swanage Dorset 04Neville 1964Neville Hibbs -Swanage 1953Neville MirebeauNeville Hibbs -Swanage 1953-(2)Neville Son école

SWANAGE or the Magnificent Bobby (traduit du français par Neville Hibbs)
I was sixteen when, in June 1953, my parents decided to send me to England and to the English family of Mr and Mrs Bruce Hibbs, Swanage, Dorset – a smart seaside resort, where Mr Hibbs was a well known Hight Street newsagent. In exchange, their son, Neville, came several times to our home in Mirebeau (a historic, and friendly old town, not far from the great city of Poitiers, in Western France) – where people still talk of him. The age of language exchanges had just been born, and with it came my first experience of freedom. When my stay was coming to an end, a long general strike paralysed France and during that there was no chance of returning home. Marooned, but happy to remain in Swanage, I did various odd-jobs: vacuum-cleaning the forty rooms of the Hotel Grovenor, washing up from dawn to dusk in the scullery of its restaurant and also taking photos of tourists on the local motor boat trips of Captain Redge Marsh…

The others young French lads there, also enjoying those happy days on the other side of the Channel, can vouch for our success with the English lasses. I well remember my little tricks for going out with the girl of my choice without upsetting the rest of them. I’d take her to the cinema (to “Limelight”) or to Playland and listen to the Blue Tango on the juke box. We might do some rock’n roll, or simply fade away into the rocks along the cliffs.

“Johnny, your heart’s like a bouquet”, Mrs Hibbs would say with a laugh“ You give a flower to every girl- and I hope you’re keeping the last of them for me !” I remember those summer holiday conquests very well, of course: Rosaline, Lilian, Dorothy, Mary, Joyce and Joy – the artfull pair who left it until the day they left Swanage to reveal the fact that they were actually twin sisters – and Pamela, Michelle, Inga, Virginia, etc… But there’s one person whose name I don’t remember, and if it came to mind I’d be considerate enough to give her a different one, such as “Swanee”.

Yess, let’s call her Swanee.

Swanee was a good five or six years older than me. A striking brunette, she was pretty, entertaining, full of good humour and self-confident. “I’ll expect you at 10 pm. I’m going to show you the way there”. So I followed her through the maze of the streets to a detached house, painted blue. “I wont close the door”, she told me. My room’s on the first floor, on the right. Don’t make any noise, because people live next door. My husband gets home at 4 o,clock in the morning –he’s a policeman. But you’ll be away long before that”.

Now, in those days I sometimes found it hard to understand exactly what people were saying. I admit that I sometimes pretended to understand. In the case, what I understood was that the policeman in question was a neighbor and that, at all costs, I must avoid bumping into him in that house.

So what did I do? I put on my Sunday best, applied after-shave, and carefully knotted the silk cravat that I always wore then. For fear of losing my way, I carried out a preliminary reconnaissance operation in Swanee’s neighbourhood. Just before I reached her house, out of it came a tall fellow in policeman’s uniform, who walked straight past me. That “bobby” must be neighbour, thought I. I returned to Swanee’s house for our rendez-vous at 10.

You can perhaps imagine what followed. The apprentice that then was rose through several levels of competence on that day. I was looking forward to telling the tale of my exploits to Neville … But did I then fall asleep? Of cource I did! Because I remember how hard Swanee shook me to wake me up. She was frantic, as if a bomb was about to blow the house up and she spoke very fast: “Get out ! Quickly ! Oh my God ! Go! Get away” !

Catastrophy ! I pick up my things and leave in disarray. In the street I’m still putting clothes on… It’s at the front door of Mrs Hibbs’ house that I realize I’ve left my silk cravat, behind, carefully laid at the foot of that bed. Without hesitation I go back. Without knocking I open the bedroom door, noiselessly. Yes, there’s my cravat. Sitting on the bed next to Swanee is a tall fellow taking off his uniform. He observe me without saying a word. I step forward, grab my cravat and leave, closing the door behind me … The trophy in green silk with little white dots is still in my possession today…

I spent the next few days terrified at the thought of meeting the policeman in the street. He was a true gentleman in any circumstances, like only an Englishman can be. He had shown perfect self-control, but what if he were to forget the “fair play” of cricket ? I’ve often gone back to Swanage, but never again have I seen either Swanee or the “Magnificent Cuckold”. (jpj) jeanpierrejeannin@msn.com

(Traduit du français par Neville Hibbs).

Neville'WifeO'Hara family.Neville&JpNeville- famille Smith-1952 Mathias et Redge

Je pris ces photo avec mon premier appareil: un Ultra Flex 6X9 ou 6X6. Cliquer sur la carte pour l'agrandir.

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Mise à jour le Vendredi, 05 Avril 2013 18:46  

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