Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Life At Rainbow's End ...

So to my mind, if SC can do BÖC lyrics I'm allowed to go for Ultravox. Who generally make more sense, to be quite honest: in my experience, anyway.

Last Sunday turned out to be a bit dirtier than I'd planned: came downstairs all happy and definitely clean, after a nice long and above all hot shower to find Margo in the kitchen making Meaningful Looks at the stove, which meant that it was time to gird my metaphorical loins for the traditional ramonage de printemps. As she said, one of the neighbours came past and made remarks about the quantities of black smoke coming out of the chimney, perhaps we'd all be burnt to death in our beds and we wouldn't want that, now would we?

Having being married for some time I've learnt to recognise a rhetorical question when one comes up and bites me on the ankle, so I went off and got out the gloves and the Poky Stick for frightening things in the chimney itself, took down the pipes and carted them outside for a bit of treatment before getting down to some hot sooty action with the Stick itself.

As it turns out there was in fact quite a lot of crap up there but with vigorous poking I'm pretty sure that I got all of it out: a shame really that it had completely slipped my mind that perhaps it would have been a Good Idea to clear away the clean dishes before bringing down a minature Krakatoa upon them, like the wrath of a life-long smoker emptying his lungs.

So as she said afterwards, had Jeremy done anything so silly I'd have yelled at him enough to have stripped the hair from his head, which is completely true: so I sort of grinned sheepishly, hung my head, and decided that silence was probably my best option at that time. Still, the chimney is now well and truly clean, the neighbours are happy that we're not belching soot into the pristine Alpine air, and best of all it won't need doing again for another nine months.

I try to keep up with the news from time to time, on sites like xkcd, for instance, where I found out that Orion isn't running in the direction we've always thought, and that the thing hanging out from below his belt is not, in fact, a sword. Doubtless a mistranslation from the Greek, but whatever, I would have difficulty now taking the children out to look at the night sky.

Turns out I was right, Bryan had not worked out how to set up voice-mail on his technological wonderphone. Every time he tried to get to it the thing would insist that he "personalise" it and while you can in fact skip that by punching in some random sequence of numbers after the third time it got all sullen, and wouldn't even do that. So finally he found a young woman, born in the arse-end of the last century and so conversant with such matters, who set it all up for him.

According to him the procedure involved bonking the phone rather hard on the table, but I suspect that's just wishful thinking on his part; whatever, it works, so we can once more arrange dissolute Saturday apèros. Which, for once, involved Beckham, back from Avignon with a little gift of calissons d'Aix for Bryan (nothing for me, why is that? I am hurt) and some more sordid details of Bristol. It was actually rather funny.

(By the way, couldn't wait for a barbecue, that's still some considerable time off, so I drank the Aussie Roadkill chardonnay anyway. Not surprisingly for a 2004 white it was kind of maderized, so it looked for all the world as though I were drinking a glass of prime urine or, gods forbid, apple juice - but it was still fruity and alarmingly enjoyable. On her last legs, but not yet ready to be put down.)

So after our little reunion I went off and made quiche and salad for lunch with Stacey, and finding myself with left-over feuilletage rapide (yeah, that's bastard puff) discovered that you can, if that happens to float yer boat, roll the trimmings out into a sort of square, spread that with a bit of honey and sprinkle it with gros sel and lavender flowers (should you happen to have some lying around, if not rosemary would be good) before baking it for ten minutes. Tested and recommended.

Whatever, it made a nice start to the middle of an unintentionally lazy afternoon in the golden sunlight of early Spring, as her demented cats harassed my jacket (they seem to go for the armpits in particular, which is a bit embarrassing) and I tried to explain how to rip her CD collection into MP3 format.

We saw Jeremy off on the first leg of his trip to Blackpool on Monday: we now have five weeks of solitary bliss, undisturbed by mumblings from The Heap in his bedroom. I suspect we're unlikely to hear from him until he gets back, unless of course he finds himself in dire need of money. And he'll have to organise his own return from St-Exupéry to here, for we shall be in Grenoble for the last night of the twentieth Upstage production: "The 39 Steps" this year. And the next day we may well be back there, for the big party.

And today, it has been drawn to my attention, is the date of the annual braderie des enfants here in St Pierre. Sadly, this is just an occasion when the children of the village set up stalls on the pavements and, with the help of their long-suffering parents, importune passers-by, trying to get them to buy legless Action Man figurines, and dog-chewed Barbie and Ken in compromising situations. It is not, contrary to what one might think, a sort of boot sale where parents sell off their redundant or surplus-to-requirements children to those who seek the service of nimble little fingers, which would be much more fun.

And would also, as these sort of things tend to all be held at the same time in different villages, provide a good opportunity for arbitrage: buying nice polite, well-spoken if somewhat poorly-nourished children from Betton-Bettonet and selling them at a premium here, where such qualities tend to be rare. I admit that the profits might not be enormous, but it's all a matter of scale, innit? And what better way to introduce children to the basics of economics?

Zaire seems to be a nation obsessed by threadworms, if the traffic source stats are anything to go by: seven so far this week. I suppose that's understandable. Mind you, the UK is not far behind, why would that be?

    recursive sauce bottle
    spiders overtake countryside
    fashion elderly people
    bretons en cuisine
and from Noo Zild, quite simply ...

And amongst this busy day I found the time to head off to see the quack (nothing new wrong with me, just topping up on the meds and getting a recommendation for a shrink) and rediscovered the French system of queueing. He doesn't do appointments (I think he feels that they're something that happens to other people) and of a Saturday morning opens the doors at 10am before bolting them again at mid-day. Anyone who can get in between those hours he will see, and gives each at least ten minutes.

I turned up early with a couple of books, and there were only seven people before me, which still left me plenty of time to finish off "Making Money" and start (again) on "The Truth". But back to this queueing business. It starts outside the door, as everyone turns up early to get a good seat, and even then people note the arrival order down to the nearest millisecond.

Then the steaming mass of humanity crashes through the suddenly opened door, there's a brief moment of carnage as the sweet little old ladies fight over the chairs and then things settle down to a semblance of normality, as the snotty-nosed kids hit one another with plastic toys to the embarrassed displeasure of their mothers (who don't actually mind the hitting, it's the noise).

And then Laverré opens the door to his office, and whoever it was that has been silently acknowledged as being first in line gets up and goes in ... that leaves only six, so another ninety minutes to go ...

And the amazing thing, apart from no-one being seriously injured in the scrum at the beginning, is that there seems to be a general consensus on the order, and I've never seen anybody try to jump the queue. You'd think, these being actual French-persons we're talking about, that getting them to respect these small niceties would be about as easy as herding cats, but that turns out not to be the case.

(Mind you, I wouldn't put it past Laverré to have a bank of video monitors in his office and a few cameras outside the door and in the salle d'attente, because he seems to know whose turn it is too. And I'm pretty sure he would take a dim view of disorderly conduct in his waiting room.)

Anyway, it's another beautiful day, far too nice to spend all of it inside. Stéphane, who is somewhat more enthusiastic than us, has fired up his huge barbecue again: it's a tempting idea, I admit, and perhaps I really should go off and find some of those thick pork chops that I know are lurking somewhere in the freezer.

Or on second thoughts, that's a bit like work so perhaps I'll just go down to the garden and check up on the snowdrops.

1 comment:

  1. Research reveals that there have been posts at Riddled with Bauhaus lyrics, Wire, Eno and Hawkwind. I could have sworn we'd cited Ultravox at some point but buggered if I can remember when.