Wednesday, November 15, 2006

15/11/06 Allo allo allo, wot's all this then ...

Which is by way of an introduction to "Evening all" ...

For evening indeed it is, and we've wound our clocks back an hour (completely forgot to get up at 3am in order to do it at the officially sanctioned time, but there you go - I'll doubtless be punished in some hypothetical reincarnation. Get reborn as an earwig or something.).

In any case, I hope you're having as nice a spring as our autumn. End of October, and we still haven't had to turn on the central heating. Bright and sunny, temperature's up in the (admittedly low) 20s ... what more could you want from the season? There are minor inconveniences - the gold and scarlet leaves are falling, making the roads slippery and treacherous, the hunters are out with their shotguns and kegs of cheap red wine, making afternoon strolls in the mountains an exercise reserved for the foolhardy or downright suicidal, and fuel oil prices will doubtless rise again, and we'll just have to freeze in the dark, huddled for warmth around our last remaining candle, as the winter nights close in and the (reintroduced) wolves howl nearby.

Or maybe not. Whatever, whilst waiting (for the wolves of course, what else?) we've summoned up enough energy to get back to doing some of the decoration that so sorely needs doing around the place.


Well, that was last weekend. Started off in an excess of good intentions, and petered out like a balloon three weeks after the party. Virtually overnight (on Wednesday night, as it happens) we lost 10° . The weather is still fine - thanks for small mercies - but it's about 1° when I finally summon up the courage to head off to the office in the mornings, and the grass is frosted. Which probably means that the raspberries I picked on Wednesday were the last we can reasonably expect this year. With any luck the grass will also go into hibernation, which would be very welcome considered that the starter cord on the lawnmower broke last weekend and I haven't yet got around to taking the thing off to get that fixed and, whilst it's at the shop, get its first proper servicing in about 5 years.

We've also had to turn on the central heating, at long last. Mustn't complain, it's been about 6 weeks later than usual. And it is nice to have a permanently warm bathroom with hot fluffy towels waiting at the end of a nice long shower.

Spent all afternoon clinging for dear life onto the scaffolding I erected in the stairwell, finishing off sticking the faux-marble tiles up the wall from ground level to the first-floor ceiling. (Malyon thinks it's moche, but frankly I quite like the effect, it cost sod-all, required no preparation - sanding, scraping back, whatever - and it's damn quick. What more could you want?) Next weekend I'll have to get back up there again to get the grouting done, and then the weekend after that it's vertigo time again as I attack the ceiling itself - or at least the bits of it that are over the stairwell. Still, things are going reasonably quickly so we might manage to finish the entrance in fairly short order, before we're confronted with the more existential problems of the first floor.


As usual, this is turning out to be rather episodic. Sorry about that. Whatever, just to comfort those of you who are suffering a particularly grotty summer, it's warmed up yet again over in Ole Yurrup, so it's around 8° when I take Jerry up to school. If this is global warming I'll have an extra helping, thanks. Just give me a chainsaw and point me in the direction of the nearest rain-forest.

Still, I know it can't last, but until the new electric motor for my windscreen wipers arrives at the garage I'll be on my knees asking for it not to rain. Ever tried doing 140 kph on the autoroute, in wet weather, with no wipers? Me neither, and I don't really want to find out what it's like. I'm sure Jeremy Clarkson knows, and would be only too happy to tell me, but honestly it's not my thing. Hurtling backwards at 100k on the highway somewhere between Hamilton and National Park, trying to steer via the rear mirror, spoiled that sort of thing for me.

Of course, as I happened to be at the garage I just had to go past the line-up and I must admit that the Brera coupé caught my eye. And wouldn't give it back. She may have all the acceleration of a tank (a Scorpion mind you, which isn't a slouch - as tanks go) but she is beautiful. Anyone got any good pickup lines?

Jeremy decided to give up music this year, as he couldn't stand the thought of all the theory. The actual playing was fine, but the solfège was too much. So if anyone wants a drum kit (or a clarinet, come to that, as Malyon's abandoned it too - lack of time) we have one for sale. 300 €, only slightly used, got plenty of noise left in it. Anyway, he decided to take up boxing instead. The choice was that or fencing, and boxing got the nod. Have to admit that you do get your money's worth: three nights a fortnight from 18:45 and they usually finish sometime around 20:45, sometimes later. Makes it a bit tricky organising dinner, although under the circumstances I should perhaps just forget about that because when he does get back he's usually too physically tired to actually eat a great deal anyway. So a sandwich would probably do the job, all things considered.

Congratulations, by the way, on beating the French national team on Saturday. We were sitting downstairs enjoying dinner with the neighbours when Malyon and Jeremy trooped down from the TV room, laughing like maniacs, to announce the sad new that the Frogs had been walked over, 47-3. The Sunday edition of the local rag had an enormous headline "All Blacks humiliate France at Lyon", which I suppose more or less sums the matter up. I understand that the NZ coach was particularly diplomatic, making comments along the lines of "The French played just as well as us, just bad luck really that they didn't manage to score any points". How nicer could you be? Anyway, I suppose it makes up for last time when, if I remember, the All Blacks were so soundly thrashed that counselling units were set up in universities to help students facing exams deal with their grief and the returning team had to arrive disguised as German tourists to avoid being ceremonially strung up from the lamp-posts along the road from the airport.

Margo is studying hard to get her CAP (that's "Certificat d'Aptitude Professionnel" to you, or it might be "Professionnelle" depending on whether or not "Aptitude" is masculine or feminine) as a seamstress. The exam is in January (I think) and then she'll have to work out what - if anything - she's going to do with it.

Malyon, meanwhile, has padded out her already busy calendar with involvement - yet again - in the drama club's annual English production. This time round it's as assistant production manager (Mr Simpson's sidekick and general dogsbody, that is) with a couple of walk-on parts to fill in those awful moments when the director (Mr Simpson again, wearing his other hat) discovers that all of the actual cast that are not on stage are in fact getting made up or changing costumes, and someone still has to walk on and say something.

And that, to date, is about it as far as our news goes. I'll doubtless find time to wish you all a Merry Xmas and all a bit closer to the date - in the meantime, mind how you go, all.


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