Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Less-than-Prodigal Sun ...

Well, that was kind of interesting. We made it up to Jacques' place - found him looking better than I've seen him for a while (suppose having your prostate removed would tend to put you off your form somewhat) - and enjoyed the first barbecue of the season. Nothing fancy, just potatoes baked in the embers and nicely grilled sausages (and andouillette, no thanks: even after cooking they still smell like a sheep's rectum if you ask me) and copious quantities of wine.

Then we headed off to this little salon du vin et du terroir just across the valley, and rather to my surprise the first stand we came across was manned personned by a blonde woman, selling saffron that she grew and harvested in her own domaine, and sporting a pronounced Australian accent.

So as one will under such circumstances we fell to talking: she's apparently been over here for about as long as us and in addition to the crocus plantation the domaine also harbours a gite and a couple of horses. An interesting person: shall have to head off there some time. Maybe around harvest time: must be quite impressive to see 220gm of saffron being picked. I can imagine the mighty combine harvesters out there in the fields under the blazing sun, and the traditional fête at the end with mountains of pork products washed down by sour red wine ...

Oh, and after four weeks of radio silence we finally managed to get in touch with our wayward son. We'd had a bit of news from Malyon, who said he could have been enjoying it more because he couldn't go to a bar and there were no girls, all of which was terribly interesting but didn't really help with our main preoccupation which was trying to find out exactly how he was planning on getting home.

And as it happens he's managed to organise getting back with the mother of one of the other lads that's over there, so we can go off to see the final night of the latest Upstage production without too many qualms and no guilt whatsoever.

As is traditional around the world, the Easter weekend will be rainy. We can tell this because the temperatures have plummeted by 8° or so, and it's persisting down. Come to that, according to Mal after three magnificant days of 20° in Glasgow (unheard of!) it actually snowed there yesterday. Call it hubris if you like, I should never have dragged out the T-shirts from their cobwebs, and should certainly not have let Jacques go near that barbecue.

I have the sneaking feeling that somewhere in China, CMOT Dibbler is employed writing T-shirt slogans. His unique blend of low cunning and even lower intelligence is the only thing I can think of that could possibly have produced "We Redial Collop Skinny EtehNic Resort" (in Gothic lettering, yet). And no, I have no idea what it means either.

(And whilst we're into the Pratchett space, we have recently encountered Not-So-Foul Middle-Aged Rhonda, and the local equivalent of the Duck Man. One day I'll get around to taking some photos.)

During my more reflective moments (the brain still functions: despite what they say alcohol does not kill neurons, it just preserves them) I occasionally wonder whether T9 and other predictive text systems haven't done more to promote misunderstanding between people than anything else.

A case in point: as is my wont, texted Sophie to say goodnight - finishing off with a cheery "hope you're going well" or something along those lines - and duly at around 2am the phone emits a discreet "ponk!" to let me know that there's incoming traffic.

I know, it's an ungodly hour, she's tired witless, but even so - T9 had magically changed "je vais un peu près" (as in, could be worse) into "je suis un peu prédateurs". Which is not really something I wish to know at that time of day. (Also, I  have decided that I do not want to have a look at her personal dictionary.)

Makes me wonder sometimes just how many of our occasional misunderstandings aren't simply due to technology, rather than any innate incompetence on my part..

Made it off to see the shrink on Friday; an unconventional chap. Partly because he tutoies everyone (with which I personally, not being French, have no problem) but mainly because his cursus, as he explained it, was rather odd: defrocked (or disbarred, or whatever the word is) and sent into a psychiatric institution, on the wrong side of the bars, for ten years before getting out and going back into business.

I suppose that would, as he said, give one another perspective on one's methodology. Luckily, he does not bear any apparent resemblance to Hannibal Lecter. But does, apparently, like cows - if the pictures, paintings, stuffed, ceramic and pewter ones adorning his office are anything to go by.

Ah, the casual, oblivious racism of the French: gotta love them for it. I'd just managed to slide myself and a glass of white into a seat at an unoccupied table outside Chez Liddy when who should turn up but Monica, an attractive Roumanian, friend of Bryan's, and occasional English-speaker, so we sat out in the sun and chatted. To improve her English.

And it was about then that the guy that had been industriously hammering away at the player piano out behind the Hotel de Ville (not, it must be said, to any great musical effect, although the occasional silences were most welcome) chose to send his kids around with a cup, just in case anyone wanted to say "thank you for stopping, here's something so you don't have to start again".

At which point one of the other patrons chose to utter a witticism, along the lines of "Hé! Vous avez les têtes des Roumains là", which was so hilariously funny that I was glad Monica didn't hear it, because I had no wish whatsoever to be present when she removed his genitalia with a teaspoon and without benefit of even a local anaesthetic. (Although to be honest, after a good kneeing he probably wouldn't be feeling a great deal down there anyway.)

Unfortunately Bryan was off painting all day - getting the new offices ready, nothing of any artistic merit - and Beckham could only offer the feeble excuse that she had the mother of all hangovers, so I wasn't too late home: just as well for there was, as always, quite a bit of loafing about to be done before heading down to Grenoble.

Been there, done that ... play was excellent, as always, and as we seem to have become part of the furniture we might even head back there tonight for the big party. And when we finally arrived back home it was to find Jeremy comfortably ensconsced as if he'd never been away.

Seems he had a good time, apart from the lack of alcohol and girls, and was impressed by the cooking and the team. Although he was kind of shocked by the British habit of using pork dripping for a short pastry, and was less than thrilled at how little they used in the way of eggs and cream. Becoming quite the discerning cook, he is.

And they even asked if he'd like to go back for a paying job over summer, so I suppose he must have made some sort of impression on them. And he's obviously been doing a bit of thinking as well in his spare time: he's decided he'd rather like to become an apprentice with the compagnons next year, rather than go back for another year of school.

Whatever, I'm off to enjoy what I can of this rather typical Easter Sunday: blustery and damp. Mind how you go now.


  1. I'll have you know that we have just spent a glorious (& long) Easter break at New Plymouth; balmy temperatures & never a drop of rain :-)

  2. Monica, an attractive Roumanian

    At least one of these words is redundant, or pleonastic, or whatever.

  3. Although he was kind of shocked by the British habit of using pork dripping for a short pastry

    Dripping: more than just a sandwich spread!
    Next: The wonderful world of Suet.

  4. Not all Monicas are Roumanians (think Lewinsky) nor vice versa, nor are they all attractive (think Lewinsky again). You owe me