On the door of my study is an old American road sign, directing drivers to a small town down the road named Whitney. Insert a comma, and ‘WHITNEY STRAIGHT, AHEAD’ is my direction of travel.
This isn’t where I write – though I wish it were. It’s the place Georges Clemenceau retired to after losing the French presidential elections of 1919. It’s in St-Vincent-sur-Jard, about 30km down the Atlantic coast from Les Sables d’Olonne.