Sunday, June 23, 2013

In The Quiet Light ...

So it's the middle of a baking hot Friday afternoon, and you can tell that summer is coming because, like dogs panting in what little shade there is, even the telemarketers don't seem to have their hearts in it.

I mean, they ring, I am put on hold because, I am told, there is "un message important à votre attention" and then some poor Indian flunky takes the line and asks to speak to the directeur de telecommunications: I say it's me, for my sins, and that we have both a telephone - which, I admit, works only when it feels like it - and a backup in the form of a tin can with some string attached, they just sigh briefly and say je comprends and don't even protest feebly when I hang up and - for safety's sake - cut the string. Note to self: buy another ball of ficelle de cuisine.

It is also June 21 which is, by decree of Jack Lang all those years ago, la fête de la musique which means that all sort of unsavoury noises will be committed tonight and, exceptionally, it looks as though it may not rain. Which I suppose means that there will be rather fewer deaths by drowning of tuba players noted in the local rag of record (Le Dauphiné Libéré, if you really want to know: a definitive guide to what's going on in St-Jean le Trou-du-Cul and other microscopic holes of no importance whatsoever - usually nothing at all, truth to tell, apart from a stabbing at the local crochet club - and their write-ups of the breath-taking suspense at the shuffleboard tournaments at Aix are fascinating for those interested in the sport), which is kind of a shame because that was always good for a laugh.

Still, if you are going to be remembered for something, I guess I'd rather be remembered for having impeccably cut suits, Bohemian good looks, having it off on the side with Mitterand's wife and, as a sort of afterthought, inventing a summer's night holiday with free music for all. Especially if the alternative is being ridiculed unto the end of time like Jack Allgood (sorry, Jacques Toubon) who, as minister of Culture and evidently under the influence of too much Chirac and not enough brain cells, famously tried to excise the English bits from French.

Leading to such hilarious results as "coussin gonflable de sécurité" (airbag), "courrier éléctronique", later shortened to "courriel" (e-mail) and also "baladeur portatif" (Walkman) which kind of sounds to me as though you're walking around with a very small troubadour hanging off your belt.

When you think about it, the whole idea of free music is not bad. Some of it you wouldn't actually pay to listen to anyway, but it does keep the yoof on the streets where the gendarmerie can see them, and if they feel it necessary go ask a few questions about unsolved petty crimes which, I rather feel, will be classed as "Closed" Real Soon Now. Yes, there are Arab musicians too, and in any case many of them are young, and thus automatically guilty of something, for godssake. It's a win-win situation.

But who knows, maybe I'll head into Chambéry and stroll about a bit, see - or hear, more to the point - what young Rémi can get up to on the guitar on the heavy metal stage at Curial, then head off to the Vestiaire at Challes for some 70's music, with Renaud on drums.

Whatever, we got word yesterday that the droit de péremption of which I spoke will not, it seems, be exercised and so we are authorised to sell our green and pleasant land along with the house, which means that the buyers cannot pull out of it. Which is just as well, as we have received word that the CIC will lend us the miserable 70 000€ that we asked for, so that we can in fact pay very comfortably for the place in Moux. With heaps left over, even after Bob (sorry, James, just slipped out) has done those things that need doing.

Which means that things are shifting up a couple of gears, we are getting ready to chuck Jeremy out, get power and water cut off, insurance and phone transferred, godnose what else, I have a list but I'm sure I'll have missed something, and tomorrow is going to be a journée déchetterie taking old computers, useless hardware, cardboard boxes of stuff and whatever else we can find down to the tip. That will be fun.

Also means that last night we girded our loins and took the long-arm sewing machine back to la baronne, at Belleville. This involves a van with a cargo capacity of at least 4.30 m length (the one Margo managed to get was shy of that by a bit, so the trip there was with the rear doors held as tightly closed as possible with bungees and straps), a lot of sweat, and some lost skin.

The things are not particularly complicated, they're just enormous great X-Y plotting tables, but they seem to have been made by a farrier back in the late 1800s and their individual components each weigh somewhere up of half a ton. And of course, it resided on the first floor and we didn't really want to break any more walls, so there was quite a bit of back and forth shuffling in a humourous manner with occasional swearing until we could actually get these 4.3m hunks of metal out the window and onto the street. Good thing Jeremy was there to give us a hand with the heavy lifting.

Now Belleville is north of Lyon, and although we left somewhat later than planned we were doing pretty well until we got onto the rocade est to whip around the pestilential place only to discover that the autoroute was closed and that we were being directed onto a déviation towards Villefranche.

Which was more or less where we wanted to go, or at least in the general direction, so we followed it ... and after an hour or so, more or less, we got gently shuffled back on to the autoroute, about 15 minutes up the road from where we got off, and went on our merry way - still, we got to see the river. Which is actually quite pretty, especially with the sun setting low over it, and the streaks of clouds limned in gold and apricot hanging in the sky. Bitch when it's in your eyes as you drive, mind you.

Whatever, about an hour later than planned - if you can use that word for what could better be described as a pious hope - we made it to Belleville and, not having the Deathwish GPS with us we found Pascale's place without too many problems and started unloading.

Had I had the forethought to do so I suppose I could have nicked borrowed the Riddled time machine, set it for four hours earlier and then played it back in reverse: that would have effectively reduced the effort involved to zero as the inverted time fluxes cancelled one another out, leaving only a huge sewing machine that was suddenly somewhere else, a few inexplicable skinned knuckles and a two-hour gap in the fabric of space-time to be explained away should any short-arsed officious bugger from the auditing office turn up with his clip-board asking questions.

And I think I could probably just have bogged up the hole with a bit of quick-drying cement and covered it with some grubby sacking, then stuck a "Wet Paint" sign on it and no-one would have been the wiser.

Unfortunately, seems the thing was in use that day (that was their excuse anyway, when you think about it, given the nature of the beast nothing would have stopped me borrowing it at some indeterminate point in the future - or the past - and doing the job then), also they go on and on patronisingly about temporal paradoxes bring too complicated for the uninitiated and are incredibly stingy and tight-fisted about lending stuff out, even to the extent of expecting people to ask first. So we did it the hard way.

As it turns out, in some sort of offence against the natural order of things we did not have the expected torrential downpour Friday night. So it was almost with pleasure that I picked Jerry up from the hotel as he fulminated about the couple of English people who'd decided to have a meal at the very last minute and then dallied over it asking silly questions about what to do with the little black balls in garlic butter, and what this that or the other sauce was called and why so he had to stand about after getting it ready and answer, and took him in to Chambéry where he gravitated immediately to the death metal and occupied himself with some serious head-banging.

Not really my thing, so I ambled off and found a group that was doing some pretty good covers of Nirvana, pelted a few percussionists and fled the folk dances before somehow winding up at the Beer Tree where I found myself with a glass of Laphroaig in one paw, and a bit of relative peace and quiet in which to occupy myself with it.

I can think of worse ways to finish a week.

1 comment:

  1. I am becoming less tolerant of people ringing up from some boiler-room in Bangalore, asking to speak to whoever is in charge of the household because they have no idea whose time they are stealing. My family informs me that it is impolite and ungracious to invite the cold-callers to DIAF, so I usually settle for leaving the telephone off the hook and wandering away.