I LIKE a good chat, so at around 3.30am when the aide hung over my bed and said: Brexit – I was ready to roll. The drugs had well kicked in by then.

This was in the hospital at Moissac and we’d met before. She looked after me during my last leg break.

I’d recognised her then as a kindred spirit, mainly because of the rough, gravelly voice of the committed smoker. She wafted in and out on an undercurrent of tobacco smoke and it was plain that early morning that nothing had changed.

She is part Algerian so her gallic shrugs and handwaves have an added exoticism and five years ago we’d covered her life, her loves, her sons and her quiet despair at where all had brought her.

She adored books, wine, travelling when she could afford it and still had dreams of moving elsewhere. Probably Dublin for her son had spent a year there and still talked of nothing else.

Her lack of English she agreed could be a problem…another wave and flick of the hand. Often, she had the movements of a gangster in a B film noir. She did a click/hiss through closed teeth at the same time.

And here she was now, flicking le Brexit away as if it were a piece of ordure stuck to her surgical gloves, which, come to think of it…..

‘Catastrophe,’ she said, contempt in every syllable. ‘Economically insane and politically insane in today’s world. What were the English thinking of?’

She’s a very clued up woman and used the term deliberately, for many of the French are in no doubt that this can be laid at their door and theirs alone.

Scotland will go independent, Ireland become one and England….pfft.’

I winced and shifted my hips a little. Not in any discomfort at what she was saying because I agree with her.

No, she’d forgotten we were having this fascinating chat as I half lay on a bed pan.

‘Oh pardon,’ she said, pulling it from under me. Within minutes she was back, lifting me up into a seated position, electronically adjusting the bed.

‘There was a patient I spoke to a couple of weeks ago,’ she continued, leaning on the sidebars with the comfortable assurance of a bar fly.

‘English. Worried sick at all the papers he’d have to collect to prove his time here and to be able to stay. He didn’t know if his pension would be considered enough by the Government to permit it.

‘He might be forced to return to England and there was nothing, no-one for him there. Some of his friends had already gone but they have families, he has nothing.

‘How could the British Government do this to their people? The French will help but why should we look after these people if the UK Government is not looking after ours?’

The hand clicking and hissing was building to a crescendo. I grabbed it and said: ‘I agree with everything you’ve said.’

Peering down at me in the gloom she asked again 'Why? Why is this happening?’

Frankly by now I was too exhausted to go into the myriad apparent reasons including alleged fraud, foreign interference, shadowy puppet masters, collective breakdown, rotten self-serving party politicians, something in the water.

Instead I waved a weary hand at the ether and said: ‘A madness has been let loose in the world.’

That gave her her opening into Trump, fascism, European far right movements and I think Nostradamus made an appearance along the way.

By now I’d begun my inevitable slide towards the end of the bed and every so often she’d yank me back up and deposit me at the head.

It was like being on a very, very slow water slide without ever reaching the end.

‘Life, Madame Cook, is destined to repeat itself over and over again in all its horrors. It’s time, I fear, to enter another such cycle. Then when all is exposed, we say it won’t happen again and it won’t, for a while, and then…’

Oh God, my little world is bleak enough as it is right now without this Dystopian view from the night ward sage. Pass me the syringe.

But it’s a very French view of the world seen through the eyes of a nation well used to the blows and vicissitudes they see as their inherited lot.

And somehow, delivered with much clicking, hissing and finger snapping, it has all the melancholic charm of a Brel wail of despair.

When another bell summoned her, she left promising to return if she could, as she loved talking politics.

I lay – once more crumpled at the foot of the bed – thinking of all she’d said. I wondered how many in Britain have such a grasp of French politics as she has of ours.

Well that made me laugh, if a touch hysterically by now.

Seen from here through many French eyes, England, and I repeat England, is a pit of ignorance, perversely nest fouling in its search for purity and a mythical stand-alone glorious future.

I check the clock – it’s 4.45pm and I need to pee again, reach for the bell then remember I’m a convent girl, trained to go for hours without asking.

There’s only so much French despair one can take in the early hours. And I’m not a well woman you know.