Now would be as good a time as any for number 37 in our continuing series of Handy Hints for Concerned Parents: "How to tell when your daughter escapes from the jungle". It's a simple, three step process, which goes as follows:
- Start a blog
- Feverishly scan the stats at least twice a day
- Notice with a start that your solitary hit for the week comes from Ecuador
So the Gang of Bs was, technically, one short of a quorum when we met at le Modesto, where they'd laid out little foie gras canapés for our pleasure (hint: do not ask for canapés in a French restaurant - you're likely to be disapprovingly redirected to a furniture store, for a canapé is in fact a sofa) and the sun actually came out. Fortunately the rules are pretty comprehensive and cover such eventualities: in case of emergencies such as that we may start drinking anyway, which we promptly did.
And I invented a new game, which is throwing little bits of bread (some of those canapés were on pain aux noix, of which I personally cannot see the point) at little old ladies passing by, and then putting the blame on the unsupervised children at the next table. Ah, the simple pleasures of a misspent life.
That had not in fact been in my plans for the day, but what the hell, I thought, how difficult could that be? And one can't let a drinking companion down in their hour of need, or where is society headed? (Short answers please, on the back of a postcard and including full bank account details, to this address.) I really should have known better.
Getting three sheets of 2.5m x 1m, surprisingly heavy board on top of the car and more or less attached to the roof rack was tedious, but doable: the real fun comes when you have to get them up two flights of twisty, turny and above all steep stairs, along an 80cm wide balcony and through a small door. Note to self: contract cholera the next time a so-called friend asks for a bit of help with a minor shifting job.
She's looking around at changing her phone company - it doesn't really matter, they're all crap, but hey, maybe you can save ten euros a month if you shop around, and that can't be bad - and to this end contacted the lot of them to see what they had to offer. I must admit it can get complicated when you try to tot up all the little bits and pieces, what with phone calls to mobile numbers, international calls, do you get TV with the bundle, and more ...
Whatever, SFR seem to have a particularly dedicated team at their call centre in Bangalore or wherever, for while I was there she got a call from them - the sixth, she later told me, in the past month - trying to get her to sign up with them immediately. Now you or I would probably have told them to bugger off about thirty seconds into their spiel, but she played the poor guy like an expert phisherman.
She put on her stubborn, suspicious bird-brain persona, starting off by pretending that she didn't actually know what the gear she had installed was and getting him to explain all that, then she had him go through the details of her current contract with Orange, then put him on hold so she could go get a pencil and paper to note down the juicy details of their proposal - she put him on the speaker so that I could share the fun, and I could hear his voice rising as he got more and more excited. Or angry, hard to tell.
By the end of it I think he was close to apoplexy, but so exhausted he could only acquiesce weakly when she told him to call back in a month to see if she'd made up her mind. A true chef d'oeuvre, I could only listen in admiration.
She had kept the guy talking to her for about 45 minutes, ten of which were spent trying to get a phone number out of him so that she could ring him back personally if she felt that she needed more details, and studiously ignoring his protests that he didn't actually have a direct incoming line. How cruel is that?
But right now I have to go off and do one of my all-time favourite things: declare the TVA (GST, to you) for last month so we get it paid back. Extremely tedious, and mind-numbingly boring.
And just to annoy me even more, just got a text from Sophie to say that down south the sun has turned the sky a limpid turquoise, lighting up the brilliant greens of the épicéas ... that's her speaking, not me. Up here it is gray and overcast and cool, and likely to stay that way for another couple of days yet. Typical bloody summer.
*It still sounds better than braised calves lips with stewed ox-heart stuffed with mashed potato, though.