Wednesday, January 5, 2000

05/01/00 New Year's Dribble

I really must start keeping a diary on the Palm V: it does sterling service for the shopping list and business notes, I don't see why it shouldn't serve for me to keep track of what I've been doing as well.

Christmas went well, if quietly - probably just as well, we're all tired (especially Jeremy) and were quite happy just to sit around and eat and enjoy being warm. Tess has other problems on her mind (such as it is) - there's a mouse in the house and she can smell it but can't get at it. The little sod (or family thereof) seems to have a thing for rice - two packets of Basmati I've had to throw out so far after finding the plastic packets chewed open and little black not-rice grains in there. (Could always collect them and try to pass them off as wild rice to ecologically-minded acquaintances - NOT friends, please note ... haven't dared up to now)

Invited Joc & Hervé around on Sunday night as I was feeling luxurious and decided to make a filet de boeuf Rossini, as it turned out only Joc turned up as Hervé managed to put his back out and spent three or four days immobilised on the bed. Anyway, Jeremy decided that he wanted to sleep at their house with his friend Caroline and we'll pick him up tomorrow or in 16 years time, depending.

Turned out well really as today we had to go off to a funeral - Jacques' wife Anne-Marie died on Christmas Day after five years of degenerative nerve disease and then cancer. Nothing like a good funeral to get all the family together and bitching about one another but personally I always get extremely depressed and have absolutely no idea of what sort of consoling thing one should say on such occasions, and to top it off it's been snowing on and off all day, the church was unheated, and the vicar evidently had thermal underwear on and was in no particular hurry.

I've always wondered how they organise the seating arrangements, actually. Obviously the bereaved family sit up at the top, but do all the rest get shunted onto one side or another depending on whether they're "defunct" or "survivor"? Whatever.

Quite odd really as there were all these grown-up people there - Jacques' children - that we first met twelve years ago and have seen grow up. Saw Claire grow from a gawky, awkward, spotty 8-year old to a rather pretty and reasonably self-assured woman of 20. Vincent is no longer a pimply adolescent but a much head-hunted waiter at 5-star hotels in Geneva. Went to Catherine's wedding, come to that, and would've gone to Xavier's last year (except that it was in Spain, and we didn't have the time). Tim R. Mortiss is definitely catching up with me.

Today being Thursday we all hopped in the big car and headed off to Lyon. First stop M&S to pick up emergency supplies of chocolate-chip biscuits and gingernuts, and to get some cheese to take along for tomorrow night. Got Stilton, red Leicester and three varieties of Cheddar - should be enough to frighten the Frogs. Then we did our usual "escape Lyon by going round and round and round until you get to escape velocity" trick and actually got onto the right road, so went into Ikea to get ideas for doing up the kitchen. Came out with quite a few - one of them being that it's going to take a lot of time and money to get it transformed into something reasonable but then we were expecting that.

Had a slight delay getting to Lyon, of course - we started off later than hoped as we all of us wanted to sleep in, and then going through the tunnel at Chambery the car ahead of us - about 200m ahead, luckily - did a fairly spectacular pinball act bouncing off the right wall, left wall, then the right wall again. Must have hit a patch of ice on the road, I suppose. No-one as hurt though, and we just had to hang around until the firemen came and took the driver off our hands before going on.

The mice have definitely got to go. They may not actually be living IN the toaster, but they're certainly living off the crumbs in it. Tess is about as much use as a limp rag - you say "Tess! Kill!" and she looks around a bit in an  interested manner before sidling up to her food bowl to see what's on the menu. Apparently not self-service mouse.

Those of you who've seen the footage of houses blown over and whatever can rest easy, we haven't so much as a slate out of place on the roof (not more than usual, anyway). By the time the storms got down here they'd more or less blown over and so we had a couple of extremely windy nights (I was worried about the old apple tree in the garden, but it seems to have weathered it) but nothing like the damage further north. And the electricity only cut off twice, for about a minute each time, and each time I'd just backed up what I was working on. Stroke of luck there.

On the other hand, it has snowed again. Woke up yesterday morning at some ungodly hour to the sound of the snowplough rumbling its way up the street, so thought rude words until I got back to sleep. Only 10 cm or so down this low anyway, and with all the rain we've had the earth is quite warm (relatively speaking) and so the roads are clear.

Now Jan 1st, and the world has not - apparently - stopped turning, and the electricity didn't even shut off for a second. We headed off to Renaud & Sophie's after a fairly frenetic hour getting rid of mice - nabbed one in the toaster, and another under the grill of the bread-board. Tess got the first one, but only by a miracle - it actually ran under her bum before she knew what was happening, and I don't know whether she suffocated it or what, but she wanted to come inside five minutes later but as she had mouse-tail dribbling out one side of her mouth we declined to let her in.

Anyway, we had quite a restrained New Year's Eve. In theory there were to have been four couples and we were taking dessert, but there was a minor cock-up on the communication front so there were just six of us and we brought the cheese (hence the fore-mentioned trip to Lyon and we got rid of:
  • three bottles of champagne for the aperitif
  • two halves of Sauternes with the foie gras and truffles
  • one bottle of white with the smoked salmon
  • two bottles of Burgundy with the venison
  • a quarter of port with the cheese
  • two more bottles of (good) champagne with dessert
Quite proud of ourselves for not over-indulging.

At about 3am R & S and Bruno & Patty decided to go off night-clubbing but we were rather knackered and headed off to bed, where we stayed until 10:30. Renaud and Sophie surfaced about midday (with eyes, as the French say, 'en trou de pine', which, for those of you who don't have a Frog slang dictionary close to hand, is a vulgar but accurate way of saying 'small, bloodshot and watery'), so we had a leisurely breakfast before heading homewards to let Tess in. After which we have not, I regret to say, done a great deal. How was it with you? I gather that the fireworks in Auckland were worth watching - at least from what was shown on TV here.
Good luck against Dennis Conner, by the way.

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