129. A Kind of Sunshine

Part 4 of the 'Perfectionism' series. (Starts here.)

HI JEANNE, THANKS FOR sending through the footage. I have watched it every day since I received it, sometimes more than once a day. It seems to me like a film that tells many stories at once, and each story is a sad one. The fact that there is no sound only makes it sadder. It’s like the silence is the soundtrack of the movie. Until today, I watched the footage but I didn’t notice anything that you didn’t already know. Then today I watched it again, paying attention to the sky. You will have noticed that everything is blue and grey and glistening, and weather records (I have checked them) indicate it was raining that night. So at first it was impossible to tell where this gas station is located directionally, by which I mean, is it on the side of the road that leads in a south-east direction or is it on the side of the road that leads in a northwesterly direction. As you know I am not overly familiar with that road or indeed the roads around Toulouse, but I have made inquiries and it seems there are not one but two Total gas stations on that stretch of the E80, opposite each other, on each side of the road. So the question is, which has station is this footage from. Because their logs indicate the trucks were bound for Spain it's natural to assume that the gas station in question is on the northwest side of the motorway, the side you would be driving along if you were driving to Spain. But I am not certain this is the case. I will ask to look again at those eight minutes from 7:49am to 7:57am, when the girl and the truckdriver are inside the toilet. You will notice that between 7:51am and 7:54am the toilet block is suddenly illuminated in sunshine, a particular kind of sunshine that is extraordinarily rare because three very precise conditions are required in order for it to occur. Firstly, the sun must be low on the horizon, so it only occurs just after dawn or just before sunset. Secondly, the sky must be covered in clouds other than in the east (if it is just after dawn) or in the west (if it is just before sunset). These two conditions alone create an especially beautiful kind of sunlight, because the rays of the low sun bounce off the underside of the clouds, creating a kind of glow that would not occur if the same sun were shining in an otherwise clear sky. But there is a third condition that creates a particularly special effect, which makes this particular kind of sunlight almost miraculous, which is that it must have been recently raining – and indeed weather records indicate that this is precisely the case: on that night, it had been raining in Toulouse from about 2am to 5am, a steady front of rain from the southwest (ironically from Spain). Everything was glistening wet, which is why those brief three minutes of sunshine are so beautiful, even (one might even say especially) on such tawdry surfaces as tarmac and concrete blocks. But why is this significant? Because, taking into account the direction from which the sun is shining, if one is to draw a map of the gas station based on the movements of the girl and the truckdriver one realises that it is on the side of the road that leads south-east, not north-west. And that means that the girl, when she eventually does find a driver who is willing to take her with him, is not heading to Spain at all. She is heading east. I know that doesn't correlate with the trucking company logs, which means either I am wrong or the logs have been falsified. I hope that helps. Best wishes from Paris, Luc