I have spoken before of Julian and Batu: she is the rather unforgettable, larger than life African woman, and he is her British now-husband. At some point he must have read A Year In Provence and drunk deep of the Kool-Aid, for he decided that nothing would do but that he come to the south of France, buy a vineyard and make wine.
Anyway, he definitely belongs to the mad dogs and Englishmen school of thought, for rather than - like all the other vignerons around here - get up at 4am for a couple of hours work in the vines and then go out again around 9:30pm, when it's nice and cool, he prefers to go out in the midday sun. Godnose why. But so it was that the other day, around 13:30, I was out on the terrace and saw him coming wearily up the road and into place St-Régis, at which point he called out and asked if I happened to have such a thing as a pair of bolt-cutters. Or a hacksaw.
Now why, you may well ask, would he want such things? A fair question, and I put it to him. He has some vines in the garrigue around Montbrun, and he had taken his Toyota 4x4 out there to do a bit of work - at midday! - and had driven it over a rock and burst a tyre. Not having a mobile about his person he had then trudged 4km under the blazing sun back to Moux to seek help. Still doesn't answer the question "why bolt-cutters?", because in my experience these are not very useful when it comes to changing a tyre: but recall that it is a 4x4, and the spare tyre is hung on the tailgate, and so that people don't nick it it is attached with a chain and padlock. And when he came to unlock the thing, he found that had rusted solid over the years, and would not open.
Just about everything, for ten minutes later - just as I was thinking idly of a nice cold drink chock-full of vitamins, such as a nicely chilled rosé - there came a call from a UK number and it was Julian, to ask if I had some WD40 and a hammer, because the wheel bolts were - like the padlock - rusted in place. And so it was back to Montbrun with these things and hanging around this time and watching as he started to remove the bolts: at which point it was evidently pretty much "mission accomplished", and time to go back home.
Did I mention, by the way, that although they've been here more than three years the damned thing is still registered in the UK, has no contrôle technique and to top it off, is uninsured? Which is probably a good reason for not doing what any normal person would do under the circumstances, and call a tow-truck. (The car disappeared at some point on Friday. John has - in addition to his Corvette - an entire mechanic's workshop in his garage, and locked bolts do not daunt him: in fact, I rather think he takes them as a personal affront.)
It's small - probably seat maybe 25 tops - so you do have to reserve, but it is definitely worth it: and to top it off he comes round after the meal with a conical metal jug with a long thin tube in lieu of a spout, full of carthagène. Which you are then expected to drink in the approved fashion, which involves holding the end of the tube about 10-15 cm from your wide-open mouth and tilting the whole thing so that a stream of sticky-sweet alcohol goes neatly down your gullet. That's the principle, anyway: in my case most of it went down the front of my shirt, or up a nostril.
(Purely as an aside, we repaid the favour by having them around for dinner: a decent bit of onglet, with beurre café de Paris slathered on it. Caroline was quite taken with it, and apparently googled the recipe: unfortunately she misspelt, and looked for "beurre de garçon de café", which is not the same thing.)
But right now I am even more idle (and foul-tempered) than usual, due to the fact that the big muscle at the top of my left calf spontaneously and quite gratuitously decided to rip in half the other evening. So now I have an elastic bandage wrapped tightly about it to keep everything in place while it (hopefully) heals, and a bad case of limited mobility which really pisses me off. Still, it does serve to reinforce my determination to not go through to Carcassonne of a weekend at this time of year, given that the roads are awash with bloody tourists.
Anyways, mind how you go now: I shall go back to sweating like a pig in the heat.