Saturday, September 4, 2010

End of the Golden Weather ...

Well, summer's coming to its end, and it's back to school for everyone, especially Jeremy. Words like "piss-up" and "brewery" come to mind when I think of the organisational skills of the lycée, given that we got the list of textbooks and cooking gear he was going to need for Monday on the Thursday. We also got his last term's report, which I'm saving to read for one of those moments when my blood pressure gets too low and needs a nudge skywards. A common theme, apparently (and one we've come to know too well) is along the lines of "Jeremy has plenty of ability, but unfortunately refuses to apply it".

Whatever, I did a very quick dive around the market so as to be sure of getting to Tech'Otel (which is where you get professional cooking gear and cutlery and plates and cake moulds and ice-cream churns and knives and ... well, everything, really: it's not actually a very good idea for me to go in there unaccompanied) well before they closed (yes, I did think to check their opening hours on their website) to find, to my great pleasure, that it was in fact closed. Not only closed, but shuttered.

They had not yet woken up to the fact that August ended four days ago, and were still on their summer holidays. Bollocks, as one says.

So after that sad disappointment I finally met up with Bryan at Le Refuge for what I like to think of as a well-deserved demi and a bit of a chat. The staff there are uniformly pleasant, but unfortunately about as speedy as a handicapped sloth, so as a general rule I avoid the place unless I'm actually trying not to drink, but Bryan is sentimentally attached to the place (probably tried to get most of the waitresses into bed, truth to tell) and for once we actually got served in under ten minutes. Which is pretty much a record. (Don't bother going up to the bar, hoping that you'll get served quicker - they spend all their time there rinsing and drying glasses, and occasionally pulling a beer for the odd customer outside that looks as though they're in the throes of actual death by dehydration.)

Anyway, it seems that Christchurch has been more or less flattened. That came as rather a surprise to me, thinking as I did that the South Island was so boring that no self-respecting earthquake would want to go near the place, but it seems I was mistaken.

But then, I suppose it came as a surprise to you too. Perhaps I really ought to look at the news more often. Get a life, or something. Bryan keeps telling me I need to look at this thing called Facebook, but I can't see the point.

On the other side of the place de l'Hôtel de Ville is the Hédiard shop. It's a chain of épiceries-fines; high-class grocers, if you prefer. Harrods, on a smaller scale, and without the pomp and circumstance. Started out in Paris about 160 years ago, and it's still one of the few places around these benighted parts where I've been able to find Angostura bitters. Not that I drink that many pink gins, but it's still nice to have around for those moments when I do. (Bit of a sin to stick it into Bombay Sapphire, mind you.) 

I suppose they leave their crates outside secure in the knowledge that anyone who tried to wander off with one would look a bit conspicuous.

Anyway, for some strange reason we got onto the subject of New Zealand literature. I think it started when Bryan mentioned that he'd just picked up on "True Blood", and said that he reckoned that the actress who plays Sookie was also in "The Piano". I must have looked a bit uncomprehending at that point, and wound up having to justify myself by pointing out that one can only enjoy a limited amount of work by self-pitying tuberculotic authors, and in any case I had to suffer the entire Maurice Gee canon at high school, which seems to me sufficient reason to dislike the whole damn lot.

Whatever, it's been a busy week. Had a couple of phone calls: one from some guy in Aix-en-Provence and another from England;  they both had old Gespac OS-9 systems that'd crashed and burnt and wanted some help. Preferably, my presence. Although I wouldn't have minded spending a day or so in Aix, and could probably have survived deepest Cheshire, I managed to persuade them that there wasn't really that much I could do apart from pointing them in the right direction, which was massive hardware failure. Funny thing about old systems that Just Work (Steve Jobs might have trademarked that, but I don't care): no-one seems to think about them until they - inevitably - fail. And where the hell do you find 68040 processors these days?

And of course, I had to drop Malyon off at Geneva on Tuesday to get back to her beloved. She was a bit pissed off: she's hoped for rather better on her 21st birthday than being knee-deep in a bog  looking for new species of lichen (or something) but that is, apparently, what she'll be doing. Bit of a bummer, let it be admitted. On the other hand, she was quite pleased with the 'A' she got for her last exam.

What we're watching: unfortunately "Burn Notice" wrapped up last week, and there seems to have been some sort of holiday or something in the states which prevented them from screening "Eureka", but at least "Bones" and a few others will be starting up again over the next month or so. Did manage to pick up the last two unaired episodes of "Better Off Ted" too, which was good.  At least there's still "Warehouse 13", which is pure unadulterated silliness - especially the episode where the two agents (one male, one female) swap bodies. And there's a rather fun British cop series called "Vexed" which I'd recommend, and we just watched the first two episodes of some new Aussie series, "Spirited", which might be worth following. Dentist leaves prat husband and moves into an apartment which just happens to be haunted by an English punk rocker. Not too bad really, and worth it just for the accents. On the other hand, I tried watching "Covert Affairs", but it gave my brain boils. I could not, in all honesty, advise watching that.

Tomorrow's Sunday, and although Margo has to get up early(ish) to head off to the Q'ara B'ara (think A&P show) at Montmelian I have other plans, which involve lying in late before heading off to get a decent baguette and maybe a pain au chocolat aux amandes for a nice leisurely breakfast out on the terrace. So I'd better start getting some practice for the lying-in part.

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