Saturday, February 23, 2013

So What Do They Call A Condom ...

... in Prague? A cancelled Czech, of course. Sorry, that sad joke probably belongs to Riddled. They have form.

Right, things are definitely escalating around here, to the point where we have a casus belli if ever I saw one. We're not yet at global thermonuclear war, but things are heading that way ... you'd think the godless creatures could take a subtle hint to stay off our turf, and indeed it seemed to work for a little while - all quiet on the western front as it were - until I went down to the kitchen this morning and contemplated the breadboard over my second coffee of the morning.

One of those peaceful moments, when a man can be alone and at peace in the silent calm of the early morning, or so I reflected, being rather proud of being able to have noble feelings like that at such an ungodly hour.

At which point, as I watched a small mouse run twice widdershins around the breadboard and then disappear down the back of the unit, and another long thin tail wave cheerily at me from the back, I came to the conclusion that perhaps a few packets of souricide casually dropped about the pantry were a bit too subtle as hints go, and that Something Should Be Done.

Cohabitation is not an option, and I'll be damned if the last thing we see when we leave the house for points south is a family of mice on the doorstep waving farewell and copiously weeping crocodile tears into tiny hankies. And grinning behind my back.

Also, I have to worry about the effectiveness of the cat; or maybe I should be more concerned about which side her affections lie. Perhaps refusing to buy her that up-market cat food was a mistake.

Whatever, our murine would-be overlords should be quaking in their bootees, because someone is going to win this war and it is not going to be them. We've tried to be nice, but accommodation hasn't worked: perhaps I should go dust off the flame-thrower.

... Well, that's two down, godnose how many more of the little buggers to go. Found two nibbling the crumbs in the breadboard and promptly picked it up and emptied its contents onto the street - sadly, one parachuted out en route somewhere in the hall - and then, not ten minutes later, hearing rustlings from the paper bag where old baguettes go to dry out before turning into chapelure, sure enough ... another trip out to the street.

(A word to the wise: don't eat anything with breadcrumbs in it or on top of it around here for a while. The explanation that "they're wholemeal" sounds attractive, but would not be entirely true in this case. But in my defense, saying "Oh, those are just mouse turds, pick them out if you don't like them" would probably put people off.)

And we had a guest last night: a young Irish setter. One of Margo's ladies had to head off to Paris for a funeral on short notice, kennel didn't want to take him, so we wound up with him. Beautiful dog, but thick as pigshit - and I guess that being named "Angie" doesn't help the mess boiling in his pitiful brain - and randy as hell. I swear that as we tried to spend a calm evening slumped in front of the box, watching "Justified", he was performing frottage on anything that'd stay still long enough for him to get his rocks off.

Which includes chairs, the sofa, the odd leg, but not, oddly enough, the cat. She disappeared early on, doubtless sheltering with her little friends.

Also, he managed to go up the stairs to the first floor, but apparently hadn't worked out the reverse procedure so I wound up carrying him down. I should probably have been more careful when I picked him up: the base of my back is still giving me twinges. Cue a Health & Safety advisory on how to lift large dogs in a safe and non-threatening manner.

Anyway, a nice cosy night full of dread trying not to brick embedded Linux devices for the SNCF: updating the bootloader, then the kernel and rootfs. The first of these operations is guaranteed to make you resort to the JTAG programmer if it goes wrong, so it's always a stressful moment. Exceptionally, nothing went wrong, which means I can get some sleep.

So we seem to be having another cold snap: got in to Chambéry this morning and a few dry flakes were falling from a leaden sky and being whipped into a frenzy by a playfully vicious northerly breeze.

Begloved as I was, with a scarf around my neck and a greatcoat over my jacket, the cold still sneaked in somehow. So in common with man + dog I made my trip around as quick as possible, and having picked up some more bergamots I repaired rapidly to somewhere warm, aka the Beer Tree.

Why did I get more bergamots? Because they are pretty, and they were there, and also Emily the neighbour wandered off with one of the two pots I made last weekend. My fault, I offered, and also when I say "a pot" I really mean "half a pot" because she spent her visit with the pot in one hand and a teaspoon in the other.

Quite fond of marmalade, she is. It is also the season for les sanguines, blood oranges, which could also be nice, maybe with some rum, and simmered with a cinnamon stick and some badiane ... I will let you know.

It would appear, by the way, and much to my dismay, that what we get in France are not the true bergamot (citrus bergamio risso, a bitter orange) but instead citrus limetta risso, which is a sweet lemon. Whichever, I am not going to complain too much.

And apparently I have spent the last few weeks with my head under a rock or something because as we inhaled our vitamins and chatted of Beckham's doings Bryan managed to slip in the news about the Titan Tire spat, USA vs France, which has - it seems - pushed horse-burgers off the front pages. It was all news to me, so I lapped it up. And I have to admit that the exchange of poisonously civil letters was a lot of fun.

So once he'd filled me in on that, and we'd discussed all those things that start to get important when you've reached a certain age, such as how young blondes seem to be these days, we bade farewell to the yoof, muffled ourselves up again, and headed off: in my case, off to pick up Margo at Montmelian.

Under normal circumstances this would be a no-brainer, just avoid the autoroute as it's now the February school holidays and today just happens to be the first of the chassée-croisées where one lot are headed down from the mountains and another lot are headed up.

But I do regret the democratisation of GPS. It used to be, back in the day of actual paper maps that you had to unfold and somehow wherever you wanted to be was always on a crease and obscured by a bit of old sandwich anyway, the locals took the back roads and the foreign-type persons would submit to their lot and suffer the traffic jams on the autoroute.

But nowadays every Tom, Dick, and Harry (or more to the point, every Gerhardt, Lars and Hans) will look at the festering cloaca that is on the roads and say "Hey! Why don't we just do a U-turn on the slip-road and take the back roads? The GPS will show us how, and it'll be so much quicker." or something like that, only in Finnish, which means that when you say it it sounds as though you've slit your throat and then stuffed the gap with paper towels so it comes out all guttural and bubbling, also it's not so nice for anyone else in the room.

Of course his wife and kids have heard this before but there's no point arguing and anyway she has a copy of the latest Cosmopolitan (Special Sex Issue, Seven Secret Moves To Turn Him On), a bottle of akvavit and 3kg of crosswords to do and the brats all have TV screens in the headrests so that they can watch "The Lion King" in 3-D, which somehow still doesn't stop them calling out "Are we there yet?" every 15 minutes, so they could hardly care less if the trip takes an extra seven hours or so.

I, on the other hand, could, and sad to say I really do not appreciate having to share the road at the best of times and when it comes to taking one whole hour to do the 15km from St-Jeoire to Montmelian I have been known to curse from time to time. But I do pride myself that some of them were quite inventive, calling into question not only the ancestry of the Dutch but also their dubious sexual proclivities and excessive use of hair-dye.

Whatever, finally made it back home around 14:00 and have not felt the urge to move since. Probably wise. Mind how you go, won't you.


  1. I would say that the problem with the cat may be providing her with any cat-food at all. See what a little privation may do to her attitude.


    Wait. Which Riddled are we talking about?