Friday, August 9, 2013

The Bells, The Bells ...

It's an odd thing, but for my entire adult life I have been using a marble slab to roll out my pastry and croissant dough, and never once have I felt the urge or, indeed, the need to stick a plastic bag of ice cubes on it half an hour before use, as recommended in all the best cookbooks. Well, down here I have had to change my habits. As the temperature inside the house is something like an even 27° my marble slab has settled down to that, all the way through, and that is just too damn warm: the smears of butter in the dough become puddles, which is not good.

So should ever you notice that I have ice packs all over the kitchen bench, you will know the reason why. And it is not because of the night before.

Tuesday night I shall have to cook a decent meal for six, and apparently live up to some sort of high standard, the reason being that Saturday night we went round for that barbecue at Pirate Philippe's and kind of felt obliged to invite them over in return. I have to admit that the wine consumption was way down compared to the apéro earlier on, not such a bad thing I guess, but he did bring out an excellent Spanish brandy as a digestif at the end of the meal.

Then the next night Sophie is dropping in on her way back from la maison rose at Nogaro, bearing - I hope - gifts of myrrh and frankincense foie gras. Which means another classy dinner to worry about. (Update: as it happens, and knowing Sophie, I wound up just doing burgers - with home-made buns, mind you. And pickled beetroot, and all the other trimmings. And a vast salad, to satisfy the dark side of the rabbit in her. With lemon and goat's cheese soufflés for dessert, surprisingly tangy and delicious. Well, I found them to be so anyway, and as there were four of us, I'd made six, and by the end of the evening there were none left, I would hazard a guess that everyone else felt the same.)

Anyway, these problems are still in the distant future, being as what it's but Monday. Now crueller souls than I say that in France they love to complicate your life: this is not true, they just want to make sure that it's as shitty as possible. Don't really care if it's complicated, it should just be soul-destroyingly miserable.

Case in point, we have moved and, not only that, we have (Shock! Horror!) changed départements. In a normal country this would, I guess, be no big deal but we are in France and so we have one (1) month from date of arrival here in the Aude to go get a new carte grise for the car, failing which we are in infraction and liable for a swingeing fine.

So this morning we woke with the bells (have no choice, really, unless we use ear-plugs: that late-model trebuchet de table I saw advertised recently is looking more and more attractive, as is the 75mm howitzer at the army-surplus place) and headed off to the préfecture at Carcassonne, to get our papers in order. I guess it is summer, so by dint of studiously ignoring the GPS Of Doom we navigated the one-way system successfully enough and even found a park not too far from where we wanted to be, and on top of it the queue for modification de carte grise was not long at all.

Not content with that, we thought, being as we were there and all, that it might as well be an idea to change the address on our cartes de résident: not such a good idea really, as the one and only guichet dealing with such matters was, apparently, occupied by someone really, really, conscientious, so the wait between n° 503 (when we came in) and n° 507 (our turn), seemed kind of interminable. (As Woody Allen once remarked, in one of his rare humorous moments, "Eternity is very long. Especially towards the end.")

And when we finally did get in, the guy said "Ah. Changement d'adresse, changement de département: va falloir prendre rendez-vous ..." So I thought bugger, in one week I'm off for ten days, hope they can fit that in ... "eh bien, j'ai une possibilité le 3 octobre". I suppose I really needn't have worried. Still, he was really laid-back about it, and fetchingly dressed in shorts and sandals: don't see that much in Savoie.

Also, we is getting another dog. We got one ten days back from the SPA, but the morning after he arrived he jumped the balcony, landed on the tiles above the garage, and then jumped down onto the street 2m below and eagerly ran off: about a week after that he wound up back at the bénévole who'd been looking after him since he turned up at the pound, so we thought that there was no fighting that and she'd decided that she really wanted to keep him anyway, so we did what was best for him and let him go ... sadly, but we neither of us wanted to go through that again.

But then she rang, to say that there was a berger des Pyrenées at the pound at Narbonne, waiting for adoption ... and Margo went off to take a look, and turned up back at the house four hours later with Shaun.

He seems to have taken to us, and to have adopted us anyway, with special love for me. Their best guess is that he's around 18 months old, but he's still kind of puppyish. Probably just as well, we might be able to train him properly. And it is a Good Thing I need new jandals anyway, as one of mine has become his uncuddly toy. But he is very loving, and hardly jumps on people at all, although he did pay particular - and suspicious - attention to Sophie's dress, probably tugging it to see if it would come off.

Now if ever you have occasion, as we did on Wednesday, to head off through the little départmentales that link the teeny villages around here, like the D72 that will - eventually - get you from Puichéric onto the D11 and thence to La Redorte and Azille, you may notice that in all these townships there are clusters of loudspeakers mounted around the place.

Moux is no exception, and I must admit to wondering at first whether or not they were some relic from the Cold War, destined to broadcast coded messages ("Les carottes sont cuites! Je répète, les carottes sont cuites!") to warn the peasant population of the imminent nuclear holocaust destined to cleanse them from the face of the earth, with only those in the underground bunkers (sadly constructed of nothing more impressive than corrugated iron and baling wire) deep beneath the mairie surviving the initial onslaught of the godless Communists, and the swift but regrettably equally lethal riposte of the godawful Free World™.

The point must remain moot, for quite frankly I have no idea, nor any great wish to find out, but they are certainly not unused these days. There you, are, sitting out on the terrace toying with a glass of vitamins, and suddenly there's this Orwellian moment when a loud buzzing wakes the cicadas as the old valve amplifiers get 230V stuck into them somewhere they weren't expecting it, followed by a brassy fanfare that sounds like someone farting into a tuba and then, The Announcement. "Mouxois, Mouxoises! Le club du 3ème age vous informe qu'un grand tournoi lotto aura lieu ce soir, à 19h, à la déchetterie. N'oubliez pas vos assiettes et vos couverts!"

At these times I half-expect to see giant white balls bouncing majestically through the streets of the village, implacably pursuing a fleeing man in a blazer, but I guess I've just watched a few too many episodes of The Prisoner in my misspent youth.

Just saying, but I sent a mail off to those of you whose e-mails I have with our new address and phone numbers. Some of those got bounced back (thinking especially of you, Julianne, amongst others) so all of you who didn't get that and who are interested should just send me a mail (the old address still seems to be valid) and I'll get back to you. That is all.

Also, I note that the 8th was International Female Orgasm Day. I hope you celebrated it fittingly.

1 comment:

  1. in France they love to complicate your life: this is not true, they just want to make sure that it's as shitty as possible.
    For this, you need a new PM. And boy, do we have a deal for you: