A proper, poetic pétanque piste is bordered by the sea, mountains, trees, plane trees, maples, chestnuts, mulberry trees or cypresses, although larches and fir trees would also fit the bill. Ideally, it would be in front of a well-known restaurant or near another famous place, like in St. Moritz, at 1800 metres above sea level, in front of the Suvretta House. There, is a dream of an arena lies dormant, unused in the sunshine and covered by snow in the winter.
We play in Lisbon, without the famous place, every Friday at 6 in the evening with an aperitif in the Jardim Torel, on the right down by the fountain. Join us if you are ever passing, but make sure you are on time, bring your own boules and a bottle and leave your phone at home. In the beginning there was nothing happening here and there was no-one else, just us and the piste. Just a couple of daft folk playing with big marbles. The men thought we were mad, the women thought we were boring. Sometimes someone would take photos or join in, but only because of the drinks, which wasn’t very nice. At some point though, they noticed our child-like, happy faces, and the passion and meticulous care with which we drew the circles from which the boules must be played, and how we discussed the bowls, whether this one or that one was now nearest and how we then went into the bushes to fetch a twig as a measuring stick and then place it Bacchus-like, between the boules. Happiness is no more than not demanding anything else. It was like everything in life. You can't persuade people to be happy if they don't have happiness within themselves. You can only model it and wait and hope for it to be kindled. Anything else is a waste of time, like showing someone Caravaggio in the Prado if they otherwise only show emotion because Federer is quitting, although to be fair I also shed a tear at that. As they say, poetry and women only present themselves naked to their lovers.