Saturday, May 29, 2010

Where's me fockin' haggis, man ...

Well, that really was rather a good barbecue, even if I do say so myself (with all the modesty for which I'm so well-known). About fifty of us, counting kids, and at the end of the day, no losses that we could spot. Exceptionally, people started turning up more or less at the hour we'd specified - damn all those punctual Anglo-Saxons! - when I'd just got the barbecue going, so we were more or less condemned to drink and nibble on goat cheese and tomato bruschetta for an hour or so before settling down to some rather serious eating.

As usual around here it was a fairly heterogeneous lot: the usual mix of French-only and bi-lingual folks. A surprising number of the kids were chatting away in English, so we must be doing something right. Although a couple of the bystanding adults were a teensy bit surprised, to judge by the way wine was spurting from their nostrils.

Monumental heaps of salads, steaming mounds of merguez, chicken parts and pork chops ... if anyone actually went hungry it was only because they really wanted to. And I'm absolutely certain that no-one died of thirst. Especially after Stéphane authorised the littlies (and not so littlies) to have a water fight.

Whatever, it was a beautiful day, and a good time was, as they say, had by all. Those that were actually awake, that is - there was an awful lot of Olympic-class napping going on. Enough, in fact, that you could be forgiven for thinking that we were spectators at a cricket match. Which, come to think of it, is not such a bad idea: maybe next year we'll organise the 2011 Traditional End-of-Year Barbecue and Cricket Match. Played, evidently, to PNCC Rules, which  - from memory - mainly involve the circumstances in which a player may be obliged to get up off his or her chilly bin.

The less resilient guests started to drift away about 20:00, but we didn't manage to get rid of the last torpid stragglers until after midnight. And to my eternal surprise, we were left with only four chipolatas and half a smoked chicken on our hands, which is much better than it could have been. (I'm not counting the salads, of which there were gallons. Don't know why, either people make far too much salad or there's something about  a barbecue that turns otherwise normal persons into carnivores who sneer at greenery. Or perhaps the phenomenon of miraculous multiplication is especially active around tabbouleh and rice salad. Haven't yet worked that one out.)

I'm ashamed to confess that I got rather lamentably cut - something to do with the way people kept filling up my glass, given that I myself didn't really have the time to occupy myself with such minor details, what with scooping bucketsfull of chipolatas and things onto the grill and then trying to turn them so as to brown but not burn without removing all the hair on my body ... not an easy job, especially when generously lubricated. And in any case, I was not the only one - not that I'm going to point the finger of shame or anything.

And I managed to pick up Malyon from Geneva on Tuesday. Not that it's any great problem getting there, and as she'd actually taken the trouble to send me a mail the day before to remind me that it needed doing there was no actual organisational problem either. Of course she'd come with only hand baggage so as there was no way they could make her wait for hours around the baggage carousel they decided to delay disembarkment by half an hour or so. Bloody typical.

Then, of course, we found out that an articulated lorry had jack-knifed on the voie rapide at Chambery so that was down to one lane, and after getting off that so as to arrive home at a reasonable hour we discovered that everyone else had had the same bright idea. Quel bummer, Bruce. Still, at least we made it - eventually - in time for her to hook up with friends and organise the train down to Grenoble to spend quality time with them. You know you've done your parenting properly when the first thing your children do on their (rare) visits is to go somewhere else. (Actually, the very first things they do are eat and sleep, not necessarily in that order. Then they bugger off.)

The eating part is understandable. Mal has explained that none of her Scots friends seem to actually like food. It's a bit like petrol really, you put it in the car because if not the car will not in fact be much bloody use, but you don't bother putting truffle shavings with it or try to make it look appetising. So, she said, she has a hard time trying to explain a) that food is a glorious, sometimes many-splendoured thing which is to be enjoyed for itself, and b) why we tend to invite people over for a meal rather than out to go clubbing. OK, I can understand that the idea of the barbecue is totally alien to the Scottish zeitgeist (I mean, who wants to stand around in a light drizzle burning chunks of meat over smoking peat), but that's hardly a reason to basically dismiss civilisation out of hand. Whatever, when she comes over she sort of dives into the smelly cheeses and will do tricks for a decent curry.

(Just as a matter of interest, did you realise that I actually had to go and edit the HTML to do the underlined text up there? Something to do with it's being rarely used, 'cos easily mistaken for a hyperlink or some such lame excuse. Does that interest you? Doubtless not. And another thing - sometimes, for its own inscrutable reasons, the text edit box will double my line breaks. And I can't stop it. And placing photos can be a bit of  a hit or miss affair too. Perhaps I should learn HTML.)

Where was I? Oh yes, getting rid of Mal. We also get rid of Jerry on Sunday: he starts his month-long stage in the kitchens of a hotel-restaurant in Aix-Les-Bains. As it's cooking, he'll be much pleased. They had a big meeting at the lycée today to talk about this, and about the choice of specialité (choice of cuisine or service) for the next two years - typically enough, what needed to be said could have been said in ten minutes, which is probably why the meeting dragged on for an hour.

I suppose it's something to do with the economic climate, but more and more people seem to be spending their holidays at home these days. Or if not exactly "at home", then driving around annoying right-minded people in their own country. I know this because just about every day I take the D1006 (which used to be the N6, until the state decided it didn't want to pay for the maintenance any more and handed it over to the département to look after) from Saint-Pierre to Montmelian where, like any other normal person, I take the autoroute. Whatever, there's a car or two ahead of me, we're all doing a comfortable 95 kph and then, about a km ahead, there's a side road off to the right. There is no-one on the side road, and even if there were, they have a "Give Way" sign. (Which does work, even in France.) So, the people ahead, cunningly waiting until I cannot overtake, slow down. To about 70. Why? I can only assume that they are looking at the side road, that it is interesting. Which I suppose it might be, to keen (and slightly retarded) students of tarmac. But for gods sake, it's not as though some coke-fuelled maniac in a Maserati is going to burst out of it at 160 and prang into your frikkin' Twingo. So why do they go out of their way to annoy me?

As a parting shot, may I direct your attention to this article? The first paragraph says it all, really -

"In a development whose importance it would be difficult to exaggerate, scientists have produced research answering one of the great questions facing humanity in the 21st century: what happens if you get snails hopped up on crystal meth and poke them with sticks?"

Thank you for your time.

1 comment:

  1. Well, the BBQ season is well & truly over down in NZ. Howling winds, pouring rain & - in southern parts - snow & hail. Whoopee. So last night I thought of you & made cassoulet for dinner. Which was yum & we had it with pan-fried parmesan scones; hardly traditional but also delightfully yum. No leftovers, anyway :-)