Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pizza Sex Crimes ...

So like I said, today was Jeff's last day at l'Arbre à Bières (sorry, that's the last time I shall use that name as the Plenary Committee of the Drunken Expat Anglophone Dweeb Society has decided - sliced, or tranché, as the Frogs will say in their quaint idiom - that the correct pronunciation is in fact The Beer Tree) and so we all turned up: Beckham, back from Bulgaria or wherever, Bryan, looking a bit pallid after this epic translation, Stacey, Margo, and I.

And once we were all comfortably installed and Jeff had brought (and, incidentally, bought) us our drinks, talk turned, as it does on these occasions, to Lit. Crit. and it was open season when Margo announced that she quite enjoyed reading the Daily Fail on the web. We were each trying to outdo one another with ridiculous headlines that could - and probably have, at some time - turned up in those august pages: "Three-Foot Tall Aliens Seduced My Husband", "Octopus Sex Slave Reveals All", "Palace Shock: Prince William Has No Willy", stuff like that.

But I did think that my contribution - "Pizza Sex Crimes" - wasn't too bad, and I was kind of shocked when Beckham announced, just like that and out of the blue, that she was going to appropriate it for the title of her next book! She even noted it down and, I couldn't help but notice, starred it. I will definitely be scanning the best-seller lists with some attention, as I expect to get at least credit, and hopefully some money.

Although I suspect that I will be waiting for some time, as to the best of my knowledge her magnum opus on the deficiencies of the French as lovers (working title, "All Men Are Arseholes") is still very much a work in progress, as are her other projects including the collected short stories (one so far, and that unfinished) and the movie script (as yet untitled) about the daily tribulations of a beautiful, blonde, thirty(ish) American woman (played by Tom Cruise) in Chambéry in the 1930's. (I can actually see that doing quite well in French cinemas.)

And then one thing lead to another, as it will - with us, anyway - and after all that talking we were getting rather hungry, so we stayed for lunch. The plat du jour was la croute savoyarde, which I personally would have done differently: a thick slice of toasted pain au levain rather than a demi-baguette to start with, and rather than farting around with dribbling some white wine and cream on I'd have spread it with sour cream and then put a diot fumé grillé, split lengthways, on top with some of its white wine and onion sauce. But at least we can all agree on the necessity of topping the lot with a slice of reblochon and putting it under the grill for five minutes.

Anyway, Jeremy left us on Wednesday: he and Malyon headed off to Nîmes to get him set up. Seems that the auberge de jeunesse was, as they say, irreprochable - even if it was a 500m walk uphill from the bus stop, towing the homicidal baggage - and that the maison des compagnons was everything you could want. On top of it Nîmes is apparently a friendly city, lots of parks and hidden surprises. We are not going to worry about him - not that we were in any case, but having Mal's seal of approval is still kind of reassuring.

On the other hand we are, it seems, going to be obliged to get a bike to him one way or another. Given that he'll be working les horaires du boulanger when he does begin, and it would appear that at 3am, when he'd start, there are damn few buses running.

Now some time ago he rescued a stray bike from the paddock, where someone had thoughtfully dumped it, brought it up to the house and promptly stuck it in a cellar, where it has stayed ever since, waiting for him to get the time to fix it. Which, needless to say, he never had.

As it happens there's not much wrong with it, or so Renaud assured us: the steering is fine, the pedals appear to be attached, there's not too much play anywhere in the mechanicals, and basically there's just the spokes to be tightened, a brake cable to be replaced, ditto one tyre. So can't really complain.

Of course, there's still the problem of getting it to him. Surprisingly enough the SNCF does not do freight, unless it happens to be more than a tonne or less than 17 jubs, this latter being defined as the average weight of a Bulgarian airbag. (If you really, really want to know, go look at El Reg. The full guide to their definitive units is online, along with a handy converter. Not that I'm going to vouch for its absolute accuracy.)

(Come to that, just at the moment the SNCF does a pretty random job with passengers too, what with work on the lines; getting ready for snow, pigeon crap on the overhead lines and whatever else. Not that I'm complaining mind you, even if there are half-hour delays sometimes. Nation's finest. Possibly also the nation's healthiest, getting as they do to retire at 50 due to all the heavy lifting.)

So anyway, might have to pass on the idea of slipping a few euros into the country's coffers and see if there isn't a shipper that does regular trips between here and Nîmes, see if he can't take an old pushbike down some time soon. Maybe I should get in contact with my old friends from Stock It, they know people in the business. Might even get mate's rates, although I rather doubt that.

After all that, Jacques came round on Sunday for lunch: this being a French affair he turned up at 11 and left around 17:00, which is about par for the course. As luck would have it I had prepared the pastry for my planned dessert and was just about to roll it out when he waltzed in, bearing a large home-made pear tart: the pastry fairly rapidly disappeared into the freezer. For another occasion.

Luckily he hadn't bothered to bring a main course, so we were able to eat the simple roast chook with all its trimmings and drink the 2007 Pouilly Fuissé (which had been lurking in the fridge for some time) and the 1995 Rioja unencumbered by feelings of guilt. Not that I'm often worried by that, especially when it comes to food.

And that, I'm afraid, is about all really. The canicule seems to be well and truly over and even though it's not yet official you can tell it's autumn: not actually chilly in the mornings, and the days are still bright and sunny (except when we have really gross thunderstorms)

But you can tell that pretty soon there'll be snow up on the Belledonnes, and it will start to get chillier, and I will get pissed off. You know, I really can't wait to move down south, to warmer climes. So long as there's no bloody mistral, of course.

No comments:

Post a Comment