Autumn arrived as if by appointment. Wednesday was dazzling. The pharmacy thermometer in Callac hovered around 26 degrees. I even got slightly sunburned on my arms. But the next day, September 1, was marked by heavy clouds, rolling thunder and an enervating humidity. The long, hot summer was in full retreat – and not just in Brittany.

Météo France was right: storms were general all over France. Rain fell softly in Paris and upon the valley of the Loire, and further westwards into the dark mutinous Atlantic waves. It fell, too, upon every part of the lonely graveyard where my friend Alexis lies buried. It lay pooling on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the metal gate, on the thorn bushes laden with fruit.

But I need hardly go on. Joyce is infinitely adaptable.